When traveling I always love to observe how people dress in a different way in each capital city. This is completely open to debate, it’s actually more a question I’ve been asking myself rather than a statement… but it does feel that there are clear differences between the way people dress in each city, differences that do not only convey diverging fashion trends but also fundamentally different approaches to what it means to get dressed and what people want to convey with their clothing style, and this even among western world capital cities.
For instance, when you’re in the subway in Paris, people often look like an all grey, black & navy crowd. I do think that French women look elegant, but I sometimes regret the lack of a personal and/or funky touch in the way they dress. To me, it looks like Parisian people dress more to hide their physical defect and blend in a social class / an arrondissement (social classes and thus style is especially segregated by arrondissement in the French capital) rather than expressing their personal tastes. Some Parisian may dress in a more original way than others, but most of them will express they personal tastes in a subtle way, and still show that they know exactly which type of clothes suit them well.
On the contrary, I admire the way a lot of Londonian girls do not care if clothes suit their body shape or if they meet the standards of “good taste”, as long as they like the clothes in themselves, for what they represent (a memory from a long gone trip, a charity shop treasury, etc.) and what they say about their personal tastes (a band t-shirt, regressive overalls, fun messages, etc.). I can see this fundamental difference come out when I hear Parisian saying that a lot of English girls do not know how to dress, or English claiming that Parisian people look like they’re all dressed the same.
Another example of western city with slightly differing habits is New York, where you can see that a lot of people dress to fit in the environment they want to be part of, instead of the social class they already pertain to. Each person has its own goals and its own corresponding style rule models, but also brings his personal touch in they day-to-day outfits. Above all, New Yorkers seem to have this ability to go “all-in” the style they want to achieve like no other citizens of the world. To me, the driven and dream reaching personality of the city does translate into a different approach to clothing as well.
When looking at the Sartorialist pictures of Florence as another example, I feel like you can see how the historical inheritance of this city has impacted inhabitants’ style too. It looks like respect for the legacy of centuries of fashion history perspires in a lot of people’s style.
I would not start talking about capital cities from the other side of the world as I feel I do not comprehend fully what dressing up means to Indian people, South African, Russian, Chinese, etc… but I can suspect that they all have different ways of approaching fashion as well. This is one reason why I believe that choosing clothes and dressing up as never been a superficial matter, as it does say a lot about a culture deep roots as well as the personality of each city.
N.B. : all the pictures are from The Sartorialist (what better source to illustrate capital cities’ style), so may not be completely representative of how all inhabitants dress in each place, I hope they still help making my point.