Living in France I very quickly noticed the distinct fashion differences from the US. Lots of black (in Paris), scarves everywhere, tight pants and shirts, layers, small and colorful shoes, no baseball hats, and of course the two that I swore off before we arrived: manpris and the man purse.
In case you're not familiar with the term, manpris refer to short pants for men. Not the super-long and baggy shorts made popular by late-90s basketball teams. Think tighter, a little longer, worn at the waistline, and shin/ankle exposing. Think of capris, the pants popularly worn by women starting around the turn of the century, but for men. Do you have that image? Does it make you think "MAN"? Yeah, me neither. Here's some photos for you:
When it started getting warm in France I saw these everywhere. I actually noticed them a little more in European tourist spots because I think they're a favorite of northern Europeans (like Danes, Swedes, etc), but they are also immensely popular with the French fellas. At first I laughed every time. Then I started to realize how hot I was in my khakis and jeans. A little bit of a draft around the ankles sure would feel nice...
Then there's the manpurse. These little bags are literally worn and used by every single man in France. Even my American friends in Paris have them. Get on the metro and look around, everyone has a purse. Is it because their pants are too tight to fit a wallet? Is it that they need somewhere to stash their ipod, keys, wallet, phone, checkbook, paintbrushes, passport, money, and cologne? I really don't know. But everyone has one. At first I carried a backpack when I had too much stuff for my pockets, then I realized I looked like a tourist and my back was sweating. So I trimmed down what I carried, but when you're living on public transit and don't have a car everywhere you go to throw stuff in, that's tough. Now I'm at a crossroads, I just don't know where my values lie.
Here's a video to show what I'm talking about:
(*note, I am not endorsing the product, simply using a commercial that illustrates the American perspective on the Man Purse)
About 6 months ago I thought to myself, "there may come a day where I bend, break, and actually wear the manpris, but I will never carry a purse!" Now, I'm almost ready to consider the purse, while I'm off the manpris thought thanks to my realization that my American shorts aren't all that out of style here either. Tomorrow I may go the other way.
What do you think? On which (American) Man Fashion Faux-Pas should I consider taking the plunge first?
There's no way I'm ready for that.