Fashion from a European perspective


Carminho Coelho, Staff Writer

Throughout my 8 months here in America I have experienced multiple cultural shocks as an exchange student from Portugal. One of the biggest is fashion habits.

In the U.S., it is socially acceptable to go to school in pajamas and sweatpants. 

If I left my house in sweatpants, my Portuguese parents would tell me to change into something more appropriate like jeans or a skirt.

Another example would be the shoes. In the U.S., people have more options to choose from, between Nikes, Converse, Crocs and various sandals. Open-toed shoes are only acceptable in Europe when going to the beach or the pool. Where I come from, everyone loves Converse, specifically All Star. You can see people wearing them everywhere, and if you are visiting, that is a safe-choice.

An important factor is the dress code. In Portugal, it is a law that all public schools can not mandate a dress code. Their argument is that people that are not economically flexible should not be spending their money on clothes the school requires, hence more important priorities like food, school supplies, transportation, etc.

Even though I am from a small country in Western Europe, these standards apply for almost the entire continent. Of course, each country has its own culture and costumes, but our styling habits are similar. I have talked to other exchange students from all over the world, and we all agree that, compared to the U.S., fashion expectations in Europe are heavily present.

Majority of people in Europe follow these norms, to go to the supermarket, the mall or even to your friends’ house. Very rarely will you see someone at another’s house in anything super casual. This may be to show respect to the parents in the house.

One explanation for the drastic difference in fashion trends or everyday fashion could be because America has stores like Walmart and Target. These stores consist of more casual fitting clothes, while in Europe you either go to the mall or a street mall, a row of stores and small businesses built together along the side of a main road. There is no such thing as a big parking lot with stores around it, making people walk around more due to the fact that we can only get our drivers license when we turn 18.

  The fashion trends in America has been the biggest culture shock as an exchange student.