Czechs and style: some thoughts

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– I wish I’d never agreed to this.

– What do you mean?

– Saying I’d write a post about Czechs and their sense of style and posting that silly picture of myself wearing stripy pink socks with sandals.

– What’s the problem?  Let’s face it, with all the style crimes being committed here in Czechland on a daily basis you should have no shortage of material. Double denim – in shades that don’t match. Dodgy dyed or permed hair – or worse still, dyed and permed. Ponchos.

– Hey, I like ponchos.  I was actually thinking of knitting one.

 -No!  You can’t do fashion irony here.  That’s why vintage or retro will never really take off – because Czech grannies actually dress like grannies, not in Reebok tracksuits.  In a country where net curtains and kitsch china ornaments still proliferate, people just wouldn’t understand that you’re wearing your 1950’s floral print dress in a postmodern way.

– So what am I going to talk about?  I thought I might go out on the streets of Prague and take some photos of fashion criminals as evidence but I was afraid I might get smacked in the face.

-My main impression is that everyone looks a bit, well, scruffy, compared to back in England.

-I know!  I’ve noticed the same thing – and I always feel guilty when the thought crosses my mind, like I’m little Ms Spoilt and Western looking down on her poor Eastern European cousins.

-But they do look scruffier, don’t they?

-Yes, it’s undeniable.  Unless they’re off to the theatre for the evening and then unlike back home, jeans definitely won’t do.

-Or if they do look a bit smarter they’re wearing a ton of designer labels in a really showy way.

-They’re the Russians. Best not to mention them.

-Perhaps the best way of characterizing Czech style would be “sporty”. 

-You mean like this woman here?

-I thought you said you weren’t going to take any pictures?

-I didn’t. This woman has been singled out for praise by the style gurus at Prag Moon magazine.

-Oh God, are you serious?

-I know.  Their only real criticism is that she should wear a plain T-shirt instead of a stripey one.

-I think that’s the least of her worries.  What a mullet!  In certain parts of East London that hairstyle would be the height of hip.

-Perhaps we should stop this now.  I’m afraid I’ll be tracked down and stoned to death by thousands of stale housky.

-But I haven’t said anything about all those secondhand clothes shops where they sell the tired looking castoffs of spoilt and western English folk and where the things on display in the window never look ironed! Nor have I speculated on the reasons for the Czech indifference to fashion: namely the lack of choice and the fact that clothes are more expensive than in England despite the fact salaries are lower. I also didn’t get a chance to tell everyone about the time that I was complaining about the price of clothes here and Czechman’s sister suggested that I “try the Vietnamese”.  Not a shop, or a brand, you understand but a race.

-I think you should also confess that despite being a self-appointed style guru, as you write this you’re wearing a pair of graying tracksuit bottoms and an oversized T-shirt you won in a pub quiz.


-Go on, put in a photo of yourself, it’s only fair.

-No. I might scare people.



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75 Responses to Czechs and style: some thoughts

  1. amazing monologue. so true.

    • Tina

      Yes, so true. I have read few comments and I could not stop laughing. Perhaps the same way when I first visited England 15 years ago. I know Czechs do not have sense for fashion sometimes, well yes, you would say most of the time…but anyway. What I have seen in England now and then is hardly what I would call style…but the beauty is in the eye…what ever. I understand, we also could not stop gossiping when we entered a club and we saw the half naked hippos on high heels…pardon me, curvy young ladies…Why don´t the Brits use the true terminology and say fat? Yes, the socks in sandals are the Czech thing, I hate it…it is ridiculous…However, the last time I saw someone wearing socks in open shoes was at the university last semester. Our British tutor had stripy socks in sandals…”Oh, perhaps it is the style in England now” we tought…And the Czech cooking? Absolutelly agreed. What can be better than crisps sandwich, Mars bar and ginger beer…I love my country and I am sure you love yours…the truth is…when you start criticising…start at home…please…

  2. LOL, as usual and as usual, I need to apologize for my poor english, I’d comment more if I’d be able to communicate my thoughs in a decent english.
    Anyway…young generation is getting more similar to western youngsters.
    This is a sign that globalisation, in bad and good sides, rules nowdays, even in czechland.

    Old generation, of course, is not touched in any change.
    Somehow I respect czech ‘easygoing style’ but, to be honest, I still have to laugh when I see (young) jobmate (not schoolmate :D) with slipper in the office.

    • girlinczechland

      Ah, the great slippers (or should I say socks and sandals) in the office debate. I think my objection is the smell: I don’t want to be choked to death by the whiff of someone’s cheesy feet and I’m sure I’m not alone in this…

      And no need to apologise for your English Pedro, it seems just fine to me 🙂


      • Laurita

        Ah but apparently, according to one of my Czech colleagues, wearing leather shoes all day indoors is what makes your feet smelly. So those who wear slippers are really the ones with ‘healthy’ non-odorous feet 🙂

  3. blabous

    very true 🙂

    tons of visual evidence:
    (not my page)

    I wonder where does this come from, people in Poland dress much better so it is not a general post communist thing.

    • girlinczechland

      Hello there,
      Thanks so much for posting the link to the Czech fashion police blog: brilliant! I loved the pictures and will go back and fight my way through the text with my Czech – English dictionary once I have a chance, I’m sure it will make very entertaining reading!


  4. Sarka

    Takže na poslední fotce nejste Vy? 🙂

    It is so strange to write in Czech and use “Vy”. English is in this case much more comfortable and one don’t have to think about if it is or isn’t appropriate, too formal, too informal… 🙂

    • girlinczechland

      Ahoj Sarko,

      Mužes mi tykat, klidně 🙂

      Je to pravda že nemáme ten rozdíl v angličine ale myslím že to muže být užitečný. Občas chcete asi se distancovat s kým (treba s kolegem v praci) a tak v čestině muzete takle…

      (I hope you see what I’m trying to say!)

      Mej se,


      • Sarka

        Hm, to je zajímavý názor, že naše tykání/vykání může být i užitečné. Já to beru hlavně jako vyjádření úcty. Když tykám, působím úctivě a to se mi líbí 🙂

        Někdy to ale zní příliš formálně a člověk si připadá odtažitě.

        Vyjádřila ses dobře 🙂

  5. Marty

    It’s so easy to criticise everything about Czechs..right?

  6. Aidan

    That was brilliant… now I just imagine mulleted grannies throwing stale housky your way

  7. #13

    The Vietnamese, of course, is not a race but a nationality. And there’s nothing wrong about pointing out that on the Vietnamese markets there are much lower prices (and quality).

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Mmister,
      You are right, I stand corrected: the Vietnamese are a nationality, not a race. I wasn’t trying to suggest Czechman’s sister was being racist, it just sounded odd to me to suggest that a race/nationality would be the answer to my sartorial problems rather than a shop. It reminds me of when Czechs say ‘Kava neni piti’ – ‘Coffee isn’t a drink’. Of course it *is* – in the sense that it’s a liquid – but at the same time it isn’t, as it doesn’t rehydrate you.
      Anyway, enough rambling. Thanks for posting a link to my blog from yours: I hope you’re still finding (some) of what I write funny 🙂


      • Mareš

        By the way, did you know milk isn’t technically a drink either? It’s food, even though you drink it.

        When they say “try Vietnamese,” they mean “try Vietnamese vendors.” That’s how Czech language works. We often use the nationality as a descriptor – e.g. “s klidem Angličana”, with Englishman’s composure, meaning “calm and detached”, because we perceive Englishmen as stoic and somewhat aloof. And since we don’t really encounter any Vietnamese people except for marketplace vendors, they are THE marketplace vendors for us. When you say “zajdi k Vietnamcům,” everyone will understand you mean “go to the Vietnamese marketplace,” or possibly “go to the nearby Vietnamese-owned convenience store” (depending on the context).

      • girlinczechland

        Thanks for the explanation Mares: it’s not that I didn’t understand what Czechman’s sister said, I just thought it sounded odd. Ah, the joys of these linguistic quirks…

  8. amatus

    Interesting article…
    But I have one note. I am 24 years old and I was born only four years before fall of comunism. Almost all of my life I spent in democracy and capitalism. And believe me, I am really tired to be still labelled as easterner. I have never distinctioned between Britain or France as part of West and Czech republic as part of East. For my point of view, Czech republic is the same part of western civilization as Germany or Austria. After all, Prague is west of Vienna. And as for your mention of Czechs as poor cousins of Brits. Yes, Czech republic is definitely not as wealthy as coutries that never experienced comunism (except the Portugal), but most of us have relatively comfortable flats, cars, computers, etc… We are virtually uncomporable to really poor countries in Africa, Latin America or real Eastern Europe (like Ukraine or Moldova). I hope you don´t consider my comment as offensive. I only want to express, that I have never considered british, frech or german culture or lifestyle as alien to czech culture. It was maybe true during Cold War, but this history is more than twenty years over.

  9. miken

    @Amatus, as a Westerner i can tell you that East is not about wealth or geography but about mentality and while Prague is moving fast towards the West in virtue of it being an international city, it and especially the rest of the country still has a long way to go.

    Also, while i understand that sometimes critics like these might be stereotypical and generalized they also hold some truth and every country i know is subject of some form of prejudice: just think about what you Czechs think of the Spanish, or the Brits, or the Russians, or people of color.

    Also the sense of fashion doesn’t have much to do with communism: just look at the Russians (although their fashion excesses are also debatable)

    Funnily enough the “I hate socks and sandals” Facebook group has 500k members!

  10. Martin Soušek

    I’m glad you are not taking photos in our homes. My comfortable staré maturitní triko s dírami a okousaným límcem a tepláky vs. suit of average british gentleman. What a comparison nightmare.

  11. Yay, at last the style post! Interesting insights…I especially like the comment on retro/kitsch style – that’s it’s impossible to wear ironic granny-chic here. Funnily enough, I picked up a fab vintage pencil skirt in a second hand shop here that goes down a treat in London – and Warsaw – but gets me strange looks on the tram here. Prague is where I really started getting into vintage shopping, as I found the “high street” options so untenable, but it does seem that (for the most part) the foreigners are the only ones rocking it. It also seems that when it comes to shopping, the CR lacks a “middle market” – with the exception of Mango or Zara, everything feels either cheap/synthetic or uber-pricey (napr. any shop on Parizska). I find myself missing Whistles, Cos, All Saints, etc., where you can get substantially better quality without paying a ton more (esp. in sales) than you do at Topshop. In this dismal state of affairs, I think it’s understandable that the Czechs prefer to spend their money on sports wear (as that article from Respekt says). Whenever I go shopping here, I find myself trying to predict which international high street shops would make a killing. After this weekend’s misadventures in Palladium, I think Uniqlo might stand a fair chance…

  12. Sarka

    As for Czechs and style, sometimes it’s so difficult to find nice clothes, not overpriced and fitting. It seems like women of every other country where clothes are probably originally designed have different measures than me. I am not fat, overweight, I’m not a dwarf, I don’t have a hum or so 🙂 but T-shirts are usually too wide in shoulders, too long, trousers and jeans have waist too low that they hardly cover what they, at least according to my opinion, should cover and are too tight around calfs. Shopping is sometimes frustrating. Then I usually decide to look what’s in shops not on the main streets, shops which are not a part of any international chain and I finally find something in which I feel like a normal person who shouldn’t find her figure too ‘inappropriate’. (and the best selection of hats and mittens (and they are usually also of better quality) is ‘by Vietnamese’ 😉 )

    Here in the CR we don’t have large seletion of shops with clothes, and as a heritage from the communist era we don’t hesitate to pay quite a lot for clothes which in the West could be much cheaper. We are a bit stupid 🙂

    Czech women tend to think less about what they wear… when I compare them with what I saw in other countries, especially in states more in the East… Really, one have to wonder how those women in Belarus or Russia do it that they look so kempt, with stylish make-up and hair when they definitely have lower salaries (with a same level of prices as in the CR) and a same amount of time…

    Maybe we do better things in our free time, like hiking, picking mushrooms, baking sponge cakes, sunbathing on Croatia beaches and if we are grandmas spoiling our grandchildren 🙂

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Sarka,
      Interesting observations here. I quite agree that there are more important things in life than being obsessed with fashion and one’s appearence. It’s liberating in a way that here you needn’t worry too much about what to wear: I would hate to be living in a label-obsessed place as I don’t really believe that ‘stylish’ necessarily equals ‘expensive’ (most of what you see paraded on the catwalks is of course completely unwearable for normal women). It’s interesting also that you feel as a Czech there’s a lack of choice though so it’s not just we spoilt, Western types who struggle to find reasonably priced nice things to wear. And for the record I’ve picked up some very nice things in secondhand clothes shops, you just have to hunt around quite a bit…

  13. jjj

    Incredibly arrogant post. Words like shallow and snobish spring to mind, but it’s better to stay polite. Still – a nation of chavs promoted to the paragon of stylishness???

    You also seem to be pretty confused about a lot of things and not really able to see them in their proper context.

    For example, you implying that Czechs “have no style” because they are “poor East Europeans” misses the point entirely. The point is that the real East European, meaning Russians and Ukrainians, are generally way better dressed than, say, British or Americans.

    It’s not much about money or clothes in Britain being cheaper, it’s about priorities. And just like ordinary Americans, ordinary Czechs don’t simply care. Whereas Russians and Ukrainians (and French and Italian) do care enormously, up to a point where an average Ukrainian girl spends up to half of her meagre monthly income on branded clothes.

    The point is that when you go BOTH west and east from here, people tend to dress better. So it has little to do with “communism” or “East Europe” or money or “development” but rather with social values – which are extremely easygoing and egalitarian here.

    If you were better travelled and better read, your blogs would be more insightful.

    • girlinczechland

      Hi there,
      I’m sorry that you see this post as being somehow arrogant: I would be interested to know if others feel the same as I don’t really see the tone as being all that different from in other posts I’ve written.

      May I politely suggest that you may have slightly misread this? For example, when I wrote ‘my poor little Eastern European cousins’ I didn’t mean ‘poor’ as in ‘having no money’ but ‘poor’ as in ‘unfortunate’: the tone here is very much ironic. By writing the piece as a dialogue I’ve tried to express my ambivalence about passing judgement on Czech style (or alleged lack of).

      Puzzlingly you accuse me of a lack of insight yet you don’t dispute my main point – Czechs don’t care as much about their appearance as people in other countries. I don’t necessarily see that as a negative thing: I think Sarka put it very nicely when she suggested below that perhaps Czechs have better things to do with their time than worry about fashion. I also think it’s frankly hilarious that Brits would be held up as ‘paragons’ of style, which is why I included the page from Ona Dnes at the beginning of the post.

      I’d be interested to know what other readers, especially you Czechs, think.


      • Paul

        jjj accusing Girl of being arrogant ? Oh the irony!

        Anyway, please do not get discouraged by posts like these. Your blog is amazing, I spent some 6-7 hours reading all of it in a past few days..Please continue writing!

      • girlinczechland

        Hello Paul,
        Thanks a lot for your kind words. Every now and again, this blogger goes through an existential crisis – ‘What’s the point of writing all this so-called ‘funny’ stuff about the Czechs? Isn’t the blogosphere crowded enough?’ – so nice feedback like this encourages me to go on – for better or worse!

      • Sarka

        I didn’t feel offended by your post. It was rather a ‘lite’ article. Is it true that we Czechs spend quite a lot of money on sports gear in comparison with, for example, Brits? 🙂 I have read about it somewhere before …you can confirm it 🙂

        Have a nice blogging

      • girlinczechland

        Hello Sarka,
        Yes, I do feel that Czechs spend a pretty shocking amount on sports gear – Czechman was trying to convince me to cough up 1500 – 2000 crowns on waterproof trousers for hiking which I thought was an eye-watering amount. I suppose when doing outdoor activities it’s important to have the right equipment though – and god knows Ms Spoilt and Western would soon complain if she weren’t dry. 😉

  14. The Czech Girl in Norway

    Most Czech people are afraid of being different / of what others might think or say about them.
    People who differ are often being gossiped, and that is why some think i is not worthy trying.

    Others do not really know how to dress – they buy what they like in the store, but don´t seem to care about their appeareance in the clothes. The most important things to consider when shopping as seen by Czech:
    1, price – the cheaper the better. Czechs rather buy ten different things and wear them for a while rather than buy one and proper and have it for years. Why spend money on one thing, when you can get plenty for the same price?

    2, comfort! As long as it is comfortable, the looks are not that important.

    We do not really have real examples to follow. People do not know how to get inspiration from magazines. Real women who try to differ are hard to find.

    And yes, finally, some people just do not give a damn. Those who say “I have better things in life to do than think about what I look like” make me laugh. Many people all over the world have plenty of interests, give all the time to their family, but would be ashamed to walk out of the door and go to theatre in rubbish clothes.

    It is just so much easier to search for one thousand different excuses /do not have money, time, the right body proportions, opportunites to shop..whatever) than try a little harder.

    I really like your blog.

    Please excuse my imperfect English!

  15. Martina

    I really like your blog, it makes me both laught and thing about us Czechs, which is always benefical.
    I used to be the same as 60% of the population here, I wore mainly sport clothes and didn´t give a damm about the style. Then I moved to Dublin and suddenly most clothes I was wearing was somehow weird. Nobody ever said anything but I could feel I didn´t fit. So I changed my wardrobe completely and haven´t go back to the sport style since.
    I think it is all about what we want to spent our money for.
    I have some friends who love outdoor activities, which is fine, but I realized they spend vast amount of money on walking gear, clothes and accessories, which is the biggest difference between them and me now. I definitely don´t look so trendy while walking or cycling with them but when we go out I have some nice stuff to pick from.
    Keep bloging

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Martina,
      Thanks a lot for the postive feedback – like I said to Paul above, it’s comments like this that keep me blogging!

  16. Kuba U.

    Actually the solution to our fashion problem is not the Vietnamese, but rather flying to London to shop for clothes. Which (“small market” and “high marketing costs” excuses aside) is one of the most ridiculous facts about living here; the retailers do a very good job exploiting us 😉

    Ticket is just a thousand crowns with a lowcost airline, and the difference is more than made up in savings. Otherwise there is only one other choice – buying last year’s collection for twice the price in some brand boutique at the local mall. Or, indeed, going for the “sporty Vietnamese” style. Sadly, due to the language barrier, most “ordinary” (not meant in a bad way) people don’t have any other chance… In any case, on my occasional trips to the UK / US I usually leave with one suitcase and come back with two (stuffed).

    P.S. Is that “British look” picture really a British look, or are you making fun of it? 🙂

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Kuba,
      Discussions of the higher prices of clothes in the *same* chains (HM, Marks and Spencer) is one of the favourite topics of discussion by the Czech Wives’ Club (i.e my fellow English lady friends who have moved here with their Czech sweethearts). I agree that it is exploitative – in fact I would go as far as to say it borders on the immoral.
      I wish that flights back to London were still as low cost as you suggest – who do you fly with?!? – but I still save up my pennies and/or crowns, take my empty suitcase and then fill it up back home. I also enjoy taking advantage of real ‘anglicky secondhand’ – those spoilt and western types take some lovely things to the charity shop so there are bargains to be had…
      P.S I’m not really sure what’s so British about the ‘Britisky look’. I’m not saying someone English wouldn’t wear those clothes but equally I can’t see anything nationality specific about them – can anyone help me work out their significance?!?

      • Kuba U.

        Owww, I was terrified that the prices have gone up, but luckily not so much 🙂 If you plan ahead and order few months in advance, you can still pay something like 1200 – 1500,- CZK for a return flight (I just checked January). Last minute, spur-of-the-moment travel of course gets more expensive. I usually use easyJet, but I believe Wizzair also flies from Prague to London Luton.

        It isn’t just those two chains, for example sports shoes (as long as it’s sporty and comfy 😉 are also twice or three times the price. I haven’t bought an item of clothing here for years… And I only buy food at Marks and Spencer, since Tesco for some obscure reason stopped selling curry sauce.

  17. Zita

    Hi Girl!

    I’m back reading your blog after my ”summer break”…
    I’d like to comment some posts here.
    1. As Amatus mentioned, he doesn’t feel like ”Eastern European”.
    I didn’t know I’m from East before I moved to West. I always thought that CR is in the Middle Europe…
    Someone wrote here, that the difference is in the way of thinking caused by 40 years of communism. I disagree. I think, that 40 years of communism is just an excuse, that we both (from east and from west) like to use. Read a book from 1930th, from 19. century or something what Komensky wrote and you will be surprised, how little we have changed… The way how the Czechs are is not post-communist damage, it is the way how they always used to be. Problem is, that this way of thinking is not accepted and we still live in a stress, that if we want to be better people, we have to start thinking like Germans, Brits or Danes.
    How absurd is this! Does anyone want from Spanish to think like Germans? Or from Italians to think like Danes? Nope…
    I think that the reason why there is something similar in the way of thinking in Eastern Europe is mostly similar language (slavic) and history (not only last 60 years)…;-)

    2. And the clothes:-) Most of the Czechs say, that CR is a garbage bin of Europe… Clothes is ugly and expensive and if you see something really nice, you usually can´t afford it, or you have to spend a lot of time running around second-hand shops or sew it yourself. Not many people want to spend that time or money on it, so they go to a regular shop and buy something, what is not controversial and what they can wear for next five years… After a couple of month they start to hate that piece of clothes, but they wear it anyway, because it´s still ok, but deffinitely not stylish or cool:-)
    I talked to one girl from Macedonia once and she had really a lot of nice clothes and a great frustration that she can´t spend the money on what she really would like to do – travelling.
    My poit is, that it is a question of priorities…

    And actually it´s hard to imagine a nice thing if you have never seen one… 🙂

    • Amatus

      Zita, I would agree, that Czech republic is considered as garbage bin of Europe in regard to style of clothes. Yes, clothes here is overpriced and not stylish. Sad but true. But I totally disagree with saying that we are not part of western civilization. You said that it´s absurd to want for Spaniards to be same as Germans. In this respect I agrese. Nobody says that Spain must be same as Germany. And surely, it´s absurd to say that Czech republic should be same as Britain or France. But what remains unchanged is the fact that each of these countries, including Czech republic, is part of western civilization. If you disagree, can you explain any other similarity with eastern slavic, or generally eastern ortodox nations, except similar language and fourty years (yes fourty, not sixty years as you said) under communism? I don´t know which literary work from 1930th did you read or see. Plukovník Švec? This piece describes immediate experience of czechlovak legionaries with russian reality as clash of two different worlds. As regards book or any other artwork from 19. century, some czech authors like Svatopluk Čech, were amazingly naive. Platonic attachment to eastern slavic nations, especially Russians, had no real basis, and comeback of this infatuation after second world war resulted in fourty years of communism. Direful price, that we paid for our naivity. And what piece of Komenský did you exactly mean? As far as I know, Komenský´s thinking had no common with attachment to eastern orthodoxy or russian despotism. After all, have you ever compared czech gothic, renaissance or baroque architecture with russian or byzantine counterparts? Quite different, don´t you? As for linguistic similarity, I don´t agree with you that this is reasonable ground to be thrown on the same pile with non-western nations. Do you believe that French have more common with Romanians or Moldovans than Brits and Germans? It´s absurd, don´t you? After all, we neither use the same alphabeth as Russians or Ukrainians. Can you tell about one important aspect of last thousand years of czech history which was not in sharp contrast to eastern european reality? Christianity? Well, our ancestors recieved roman catholicism, not eastern orthodoxy (Even Cyrill and Methodius accepted authority of roman catholic pope). Or foreign policy of medieval Czech state? You should know, that Bohemian kingdom was part of Holly Roman Empire. As for czech religious thinking, Hussite movement, according to Palacký most famous period of our history, can be explained only in the context of western reformatory movement. Jan Hus was successor of John Wicliff and predecessor of Martin Luther. What about economic aspect? Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia were traditionally the most advanced parts of Habsburg monarchy. Do you know, which european ethnical group had the highest literacy level in nineteenth century? Of course, Czechs. By the way, try to compare interwar Czechoslovakia with any eastern european state in the same time. Our country possessed not only advanced industry, but also vital democracy. Nothing like USSR, Yugoslavia, Romania or Bulgaria. I dare say that the only aspect we have in common with eastern european nations is nothing more than 40 years of communism. Now this inglorious interlude is over. We are part of WESTERN political and economical structures, NATO and EU. For the record, I don´t polemize with anybody who talk about lack of sense of style in the Czech republic. I basically agrese with this view (And everybody who is not blind should agree:(. But it has nothing to do with our cultural classification.

      • Zita

        Dear Amatus,

        first of all, I would like to say, that I´m Czech and I´m pretty familiar with Czech history and culture.
        Second of all;-) I have a feeling, that you haven´t read my comment. I don´t think that this is the right place for long discussions about Czech history, so I will try to explain briefly what I ment.
        1.As I have written I had never felt like an Eastern European before I moved to West (North actually I live in Scandinavia now). Geographically is the Czech Rep. In the Middle Europe and that is the place I feel I´m comming from. But in former Western Europe people still divide Europe East-West and if they say East, they mean former communist countries. That´s also what I ment when I was writing about Eastern Europe (there are also Poland, Slovakia, Hungary etc.) I hope that you won´t deny, that our history is attached to them as well as to Austria or Germany.
        2.In my opinion ALL countries in Europe are the part of Western civilization now. (Except Russia, Russians need a special category;-))
        3.I´ve never said, that Eastern countries are inferior. I have a feeling that you think that they are.
        4.It´s impossible to deny that Czechs have something (I don´t really know what it is) in common with other former eastern european countries. But I personally don´t think, that that common thing is caused by communism (yes, I wrote 40 as you can see, by 60 I ment the LAST 60 yers aproximatly 2010 minus 60;-)). I think that one of the reasons could be the language. Way of thinking is influenced by language. Open any basic book about psychology and you will find it there. The other history I ment for example being a part of Austrian Empire. I think that each examples which supports the theory of being „more western“ than „eastern“ has another example which can prove you´re wrong. But don´t worry, I´m not going to prove you anything;-)
        5.And the last not least. The point of my previous comment was, that Czechs are good as they are, that national character is not damaged by those poor 40 years. And that we should stop using excuses and stop comparing us to Germans, or English or whoever and be happy as we are. As a Czech girl in Western Europe I don´t think that any nation should blindly follow someone elses example (what I think we are doing now).
        There is not a long way for the Czech Republic to West, there is the long way to be a good country in the Middle;-)

      • girlinczechland

        Phew, very detailed debate you two are having here… but interesting…

        So in a nutshell, I can call you a scruffy Central European and you won’t be offended but not an Eastern one? 😉


  18. Ada

    Hi, I must agree with everything you wrote… we definitely look a bit scruffy, like nobody cares what he/she is wearing. In fact, the main problem is not the prices or poor choice of clothes in the shops (after all, the shops do not force us to wear what they are selling, they are just offering what the customers want!), but that people really don’t care. I know that from my blog and the comments. It’s a sort of attitude: I don’t give a damn about fashion, I don’t have time for such nonsense, fashion is for snobs, all that matters is comfort, blah blah blah. Those people may consider themselves higher beings, risen above such shallowness, I call it disrespect – for both self and the others.
    The trouble is, the people who have liberated themselves from the shallow matter of fashion, have done it so thoroughly they are now unable to put together at least a decent outfit. And so ČR is a country of blue jeans, outdoor jackets, sneakers and tons of cheap t-shirts which can survive no more that two rides in the washing machine.

  19. Lucie

    I am Czech and I agree absolutely.Most of(or many, at least) Czechs have no style.Not because they are poor, or because clothes is more expensive hyere, just because …they have no style.Simple. (On the other hand, seeing overweight English girls (and NOT necessarily from East London:) in their miniskirts, boots , all the same ironed hair going partying ob Fridays night…very often not sexy at all, too….

  20. Amatus

    Dear Zita,
    Would you compare the way of thinking of Finns with fintking of some primitive siberian tribes? And what about French and Romanians? Israelis and Arabs? Are these nations in any way comparable? Definitely no, despite of belonging to the same linguistic family I dare say that most of czech (and of course polish, hungarian or slovenian) history was in sharp contrast with history of Russia or Balkan. I agree with you that this forum is not the right place for discussion about czech history. But for better understanding of our cultural classification, you should read some piece of respected WESTERN authors like Samuel Huntington. After all, even Masaryk emphasized belonging of our culture to West.

    • Zita


      I´m giving up! 🙂 You don´t read what I write and you are trying to convince me about something, what is absolutly not necessary…
      I wrote, that “I think that one of the reasons could be the language.” not that the ONLY reason IS language. Of course that there are other influences which form culture and the way of life.
      Look at those Czechs who lived for a long time abroad. Eventhough they speak the same language, their experience of life is very different from the rest of Czechs who live in their country.
      I think that my attitude is also formed by not watching movies like Eurotrip or Hostel and by living in “West” (from my point of view I see that countries in eastern europe are a little bit different, but not worse;-))

      P.S.: Masaryk was thinking in different categories (East-West) than we think now and I´m sure, that he would agree, that we have very much in common with other slavic speaking nations;-)
      P.S.S.: “Saints Cyril and Methodius were two Byzantine Greek brothers born in Thessaloniki in the 9th century.” (wikipedia) In their lifetime orthodox church recognized pope in Rome as their authority, but they were not catholics;-)

      • amatus

        I would like to say LAST two notions.
        At first. You said, that Masaryk would agree, that we have very much in common with other slavic speaking nations. I disagree. If you read his piece Rusko a Evropa, you would never say such nonsense.
        And secondly. If you cited Wikipedia in your last comment, you should focus on definiton of Eastern Europe in this online encyclopedia: “One definition describes Eastern Europe as a cultural (and econo-cultural) entity: the region lying between Central Europe and Western Asia, with main characteristics consisting in Byzantine, Orthodox and limited Ottoman influences.Western advocates of this view include the OECD, the World Bank, and US VP Joe Biden” (Huntington, Kissinger and many other authors). This definition is based on thousand years of history and I totaly agree with this view. On the grounds of this view, I would never agree that we are part of Eastern Europe.
        “Another definition, considered OUTDATED by an increasing number of authors, WAS CREATED DURING THE COLD WAR and used more or less synonymously with the term Eastern Bloc”. As you can see, many respected sources (not only wikipedia, look at CIA World fact book for example) don´t consider Czech republic (and Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia and baltic states) as part of Eastern Europe.
        Now I would like to end our discussion. It is going nowhere.
        Have a nice day.

  21. girlinczechland

    Hello again Amateus,
    I haven’t followed every detail of your discussion with Zita but I am puzzled about one thing. Why does it matter to you so much if other people think of Czechs as being Easterners (and culturally more connected to other post-Soviet bloc countries which is what the term implies) rather than Westerners?


    • Amatus

      Hello girlinczechland.
      First of all: Your blog is excellent and I agree with keynote of your article. We have lack of style sense. It´s uncomfortable truth.
      To your question why does it matter to me if other people think of Czechs as being Easterners. Have you ever seen Eurotrip, Hostel or other stupid movie? I think, it´s reasonable ground to be pissed off if someone labels me as Easterner. But main reason is my conviction that forty years of unhappy interlude can´t erase thousand years of previous history.

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  23. Šárka

    as I read the other comments here about if we are Eastern or Western country. Well, we are Czech country and it is a nice and a very little country in the middle of Europe with kind people.
    Just what upsets me is when someone says: Czech, it is actually Russia, so you are a russian girl, and I reply, no, I am not the russian girl but I am the czech girl. Or when somebody from south says, you are Czech so it is actually Germany so you are the same like Germans, the coldness, don´t you?
    For me this is just strange and I am sure that for many of Czechs too, in the respect of identity, the same like French people like being French etc.

    The clothing, I agree with Sarka above that I am missing more diversity in the confection but it seems to me that this is more the problem of all the clothing industry, no? You get just one size M, L, regardless that everybody is different.

    Just the different, this is what is missing. Everybody the same, the same t-shirt, the same jacket. If you want, or I want at least, to wear something what I really like, I note that people care of it. So what I am missing is more fantasy, or better said imagination…

    But I don´t understand what is meant exactly with the missing the style?

  24. jjj

    GIC wrote:

    “Why does it matter to you so much if other people think of Czechs as being Easterners…”

    Are you serious about this question? You can’t be. If you are, well…

    Your own style of writing is the answer. Anytime you use “Western” (and you do use it FREQUENTLY to desctribe yourself) you mean something superior and whenever you use “Eastern” you mean someting inferior. You don’t need to be ashamed of it – it is a pattern of thought existing in Europe since the 18th century enlightenment. “East” has symbolized barbarism and backwardness while “West” has symbolized civilisation and progress.

    You (as most people, including most Czechs such as Amatus) accepts and perpetuates this stereotype. That’s why the Czechs have for twenty years now tried to convince the rest of the world they are not “Eastern” but “Western.” “Eastern” is understood (consciously or subconsciously) as a derogatory label all around Europe. And don’t pretend you haven’t been aware of that.

    Btw, there is something ultimately cheesy about your constant jovial referencing to yourself as a “Westerner” in contrast to Czech “Easterners.” You really do sound like a Captain Smith from Lewisham looking down on the “dirty Indians” in cca 1925. Think about it.

    • girlinczechland

      Hello again JJJ,

      As I mentioned in this post (, it was Czechman who first used the phrase ‘spoilt and Western’. I’d never thought of myself as ‘Western’ as opposed to ‘Eastern’ before that. And guess what? Surprise, surprise, he’s Czech.

      So, you don’t like my writing style. You think it’s ‘cheesy’. That’s fine. Judging from the numerous other more positive comments I’ve received – many of them from Czechs – you’re in the minority. The solution seems simple – if you don’t like the style in which the blog is written, I suggest you go and find another one which is more to your taste.


  25. Poke

    Lovely post, thanks for sharing 🙂
    As for the (long) discussion whether Czechs are Easterners/Westerners (or, perhaps, the masters of the whole universe), I don´t get it. The young generation (here I flatter my 30+ ego 🙂 is simply European – no other labels attached.

  26. Eva

    To the pictures in Ona dnes: Maybe they call it British style because of the tartan shirt. I can’t think about any other explanation.

    • girlinczechland

      Aha! Yes, I guess that could well be it. Try telling a Scotsman wearing a kilt that he’s ‘British’ thoughand see what kind of a reaction you get 😉

  27. Eva Schön

    Most of Czechs are NOT stylish. I don’t necessarily mean it as a bad thing, it’s just matter of fact. It’s all very clear and understandable for me. Here is why.

    Born into communist Czechoslovakia, I did not know how does it feel to flick through the Vogue magazine. I did not have the options to go shopping to the mall or vintage stores. There was very limited choice of garments. No options to be unique or innovative. Everyone looked the same. Everyone was wearing very similar ensembles. This conformity and uniformity was the jailer of peoples‘ fashion freedom and the true enemy of growth. Only a few people dared to be different. (Luckily, my mother was one of them. Back then she made most of my clothes by sawing or painting on fabrics. Through her creations, I could feel like a princess dressed in beautiful dresses.)

    As time went on, fall of communism occurred. Suddenly people could travel into foreign countries and buy those colorful and eccentric clothes. They could discover endless options of clothes and styles, however, not many of them did. This uniformity was actually somehow convenient for them. During the communism era they behaved according to socially acceptable standards for too long and it really changed their thinking. And even afterward, their minds were still too conformed.

    Social scene has changed and now allows us to be individual and creative. We do have options now. From the vintage stores, flea markets to main street shops. We do not have spend fortune to be stylish. After all, style is not about brands but more about presence, attitude, creativity, playfulness and leaving our comfort zone, trying to push the envelope. Being innovative and inspire others. However not many people do so. It’s somehow coming from our history, fashion is still perceived here as something that we should not be bothered about and should invest our time and energy to more important things. People here still like the uniformity and stereotypes.

    So I don’t really judge them about having no style because I see where is it coming from. This country just needs a little time.)

    Sooo, to keep it short.. I absolutely love your blog and the style of your writing. It’s so to the point and I have no problem admiting that we really do have lack of style. I love your sarcasm and sense of humour. Please keep it up! Seriously, this is one of the best blogs I’m following!

    • girlinczechland

      Hi Eva,
      Thanks a lot for your interesting and thoughtful comment. I had a good look through your own blog which I really enjoyed: you’re living proof that there *are* Czechs out there with a sense of style. I’m adding a link to you in my sidebar 🙂


      • girlinczechland

        P.S Do you think you could suggest a few places where the style conscious Ms Girl in Czechland might go and update her wardrobe here in Prague?

  28. Eva Schön

    Oh, thank you, Gic. You’re too kind! Well, I’m originally from Slovakia and now being based in Prague. Generally speaking, in terms of fashion and style, slovaks and czechs are on the same level.

    Great spots for shopping? It depends on what Ms Girl in Czechland likes. There are endless possibilities how to support young and emerging designers so perhaps Parazit Fashion Store (located on Karlova 25) would be great place for this! They offer pieces from art/design students or small independent fashion designers. Unique and daring! Or if you prefer to shop online, would be also great for this.
    If you’re more into fabulous vintage finds, stop by Laly or Nanavogue. In terms of regular high street stores, my personal favorites would be H&M, Topshop or Zara. BTW, anyone knows why Americal Apparel hasn’t made it here yet?
    These are just a few places that pops into my mind at the moment, I might update this list soon or later.)

    Thanks again for finding a moment and looking at my blog. Looking forward for new posts from you!

  29. Russ

    Again, I have to say when this subject comes up: I notice far more often how OVERdressed people here are, well, the women at least. So many women here dress like they just walked off a fashion runway or are going to a costume party as a high-class prostitute. Neither of which are compliments in my book, in case that’s not clear. I think runway clothes look absurd ON the runway, much less walking down the sidewalk pushing their baby prams.

    Example, I went for a walk last night (Oct 30, when there were a number of Halloween parties in Prague) through the center, and I saw probably a hundred women (no exaggeration) where I couldn’t tell if they were dressed as hookers for halloween, or just “dressed up” to go out for the night. Thigh-high boots and a barely-ass-covering skirt, with a bit of fishnet stockings making up the difference. Make-up applied with a sand-blaster. Maybe that’s standard in any big city these days, I don’t know. But a some of them dress nearly the same when they go to work.

    Whatever. I generally couldn’t care less about fashion. But I hear foreigners talk about this a lot and don’t get it. I think people from the US generally look “frumpy”, but they’re comfortable, so who cares. I do think it’s sad when I see a woman whose life is so obviously dominated by the beauty myth (hours spent every day to put on make-up and style hair, whole salaries spent on the latest clothes). I see that a lot more here than anywhere else, and the weird thing is I think there’s a lot more natural beauty here, but a lot of women cover it up with face-paint.

    I didn’t talk about guys, true. That’s because I am a guy, so I almost never notice guys’ fashion. I think the metro-sexual or emo or whatever it is look (over-styled hair, super-tight jeans) is absurd, so I notice that sometimes and laugh…but whatever.

    I’m sure you could take a camera through New York or London and find plenty of fashion “crimes”. You certainly can in smaller towns throughout the US (there’s a site called peopleofwalmart or something like that where you can see plenty!). And trends like the furry winter boots worn in summer with mini-skirts is far more ridiculous to me than sandals with socks. But that’s just it, fashion is personal and subjective. I just wish more people (Czech–and Russian–women especially) would recognize their natural beauty and say “to hell” with make-up and expensive “in” clothes.

  30. Prosper0

    Hey Girl, I am a boy, born and raised in the Czechland, I love my country and miss it when abroad for a long time…BUT I have to say, nevertheless you are so ON POINT. I agree with you 120% – especially in the fashion area, you really hit a spot there…

    Go on, dont mind any grumpy whiners, we need this mirror. Be less diplomatic even, I mean I feel I know how a comparison would end if on one side is a czech “bufáč”:).

    thumbs up!

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  32. Yeah. In czech they sell a ordinary fashion brans as a luxury brands (M&S, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, etc ..).
    Most of city people lived 20years agon on the country side. So czechs are not fully metropolitian city borns, … yet.
    Czech fashion can be summed up in one sentence: “Dress, like you are always ready to go back to the nature, where you came from”

  33. Mat

    As an Englishman living in the Czech Republic I cannot believe what I have just read. Czech girls could show British women a number of things, some of which are class, elegance, self respect and how to look sexy without looking like a hooker. I have never seen so many beautiful and stylish women as I have in the CR, and ive lived all over the world.
    I took my girlfriend to the UK for New Years Eve, and she was shocked with how little self respect British girls have.
    You must have missed your typical British girl when writing your shallow arcticle – grossly overweight, wearing lycra to show off the tyres hanging over her belt, bright orange from wayyyy to much fake tan, cheap gold earings from Warren James, every 2nd word being f&*k, very little class or dignity, showing how sexy they are by vomiting in the gutter on any given street in the UK, going shopping in pyjamas…shall I go on?????? Im proud to be English but ashamed every time I see British women in this country showing us all how classless they are. Maybe walking down Oxford street you will see style, but they have had to work for it. Czech girls have natural style, are educated and have intelligence and lots to say….can this be said for your average English Girl….I dont think so!
    Im sorry, but your article came across as rude and disrespectful to a country that can show Britain that its not sexy to look like Vicky Pollard.

    • girlinczechland

      Hi Matt,
      I’m sorry you feel that way about British women. Many indeed, are guilty of slapping on too much fake tan and hitting the town in outfits which leave next to nothing to the imagination. That’s not how Vicki Pollard dresses if I recall correctly but then I suppose in ‘Little Britain’ we never see her on a night out. Perhaps she would wear a diamond studded tracksuit 😉
      Dressing up for a big night out and on a day to day basis are two different things though. And for whatever reasons, I still think it’s true that both Czech men and women pay less attention to fashion than the British. I don’t necessarily think it’s always a bad thing. As some have already suggested here, perhaps it’s because Czechs have more important things to focus their time and money on. Fair enough. If I have been guilty of crass generalisations, I’m afraid I think you are too – how would you like it if I implied that the stag parties who hit Prague, vomiting into the gutter and then trashing telephone boxes, represented *all* British men?
      Anyway, thanks for taking the time to share your viewpoint.

  34. Kik

    dunno. even tho’ i see the point you’re making here and agree to some extent, your article still seems to me to come across as a wee bit snobby, patronising, spoilt-for-choice, westerners view. sorry.

    having said that, i do like the majority of your articles so it’s nothing to do with the writing or the author 🙂

    anyway, to summarize. this pissed me off in a major way 🙁 the whole issue is much deeper one which couldn’t be easily discusssed in a an article like that and needs more insight and general awareness. i know you have you czechman and by now you’re probably well acquainted with the quirky czech way of doing things… still. it is a predictable, affordable hobby, hitting the high street on a thursday afternoon to get ready for a saturday night out and get an outfit together for what, like a few hours’ wage? back in the UK, that is. and not so much here. style mags navigate you safely so a major fashion blunder is very unlikely and a faux pas… well obeying trends blindly. which by the way is a treat commonly observed everywhere where things become affordable. it feels a bit like sophie’s choice but if i have to, i’d happily sacrifice consumerism to other values, anytime.

    anyway, like your blog most of the time and will be chaffed to have you back after your well deserved sabbatical.

    ooh and good point about retro & postmodernism. too true! glad that retro never suited my type 🙂

  35. Dana

    why are people apologising for their english? didn’t come across a post saying “omluvte mou cestinu”.. hm..

    • girlinczechland

      Good point Dana! I keep toying with the idea of including a mini Czech summary of each post I write but I remain too lazy to put in the effort…

  36. Isabel

    I just found your blog and I love it! I came upon your post of Czech style and couldn’t help but raise my coffee mug in agreement. I laughed so loud I almost spit out my coffee:) You clarified a few things for me about Czech style.

    See my sister in law by marriage is Czech and lives with my brother-in-law in the Czech Republic. When I met her my first thought was, “What in God’s name is she wearing?!” Her clothes looked like they came from the 80’s bargain bin and nothing matched! My friends met her as well (it was at my pre-wedding activities) and commented on her lack of style. This was particularly puzzling to me because she and my brother-in-law make good money and buy novelties like the IPhone, IPAD, etc But her clothes were just awful!

    I never told her anything, but even my husband (who is much nicer than I am;) commented on her “weird” style. We are starting to notice it more now because of the photos she posts of my niece in baby clothes that sadly, look like hers. I didn’t know that baby clothes could be ugly too.

    In any case, I will be reading your blog more frequently in order to get a better understanding of Czech culture. I will admit that many of the things she does and thinks seem strange so maybe you can help clarify. I don’t see her often because we live in the states, but when I do, its often awkward because we have nothing in common, not to mention the fact that she’s a bit of a know it all (I am in no way saying this is true of Czech people) I will be spending some holiday family time with her so I would like to get some tips on this as I would rather find something to talk about than spend the time trying to avoid her.

    Thanks again and can’t wait to read more!

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Isabel,

      Thanks a lot for sharing your story with me. Part of me still feels terrible for critizing the Czech sense of style (or, erm, lack of it) because I don’t want it to seem like an affluent foreigner poking fun at the poor natives. The thing is, as you point out, it isn’t simply about money – because your sister-in-law could afford to dress a bit better if she wanted to – but something else. Comfort? Laziness? Just not giving a damn?

      There’s an interesting interview here with Jakub Lohninsky ( who owns a menswear shop in Prague and writes a style blog. The whole piece is worth looking at but I think what he says here is particularly relevant:

      “It’s not about salary. Lots of people write on my blog claiming ‘I don’t’ have money’. It’s bull. If you want you can go to secondhand here in Prague, there are great secondhands with men’s jackets and you can buy a Burberry coat for 1000 CZK.”

      I’d be curious to know what others think about the great Czech style debate – it’s a topic I might well return to soon, especially since the dreaded headbands will soon be coming out again…


  37. Czecharev

    Hi girlinczechland,

    I read the above blog with great interest (and amusement) because I was really surprised by what you wrote. I have lived in the UK for over 9 years now and the style crimes I have seen here have sometimes rendered me speechless. It’s true that (in general) the British care more about their clothes than Czechs do, i. e. they wear clothes that are more fashionable or trendier. The problem is that they usually wear them with a complete and utter disregard for their body shape. For obvious reasons, it’s British women who are usually guilty of this particular crime (men don’t normally wear clothes that reveal a lot of skin). And class plays a huge role here – it’s usually working class and lower middle class women who are often dressed as if they didn’t own a mirror (the clothes look really nice – but on somebody else). Middle class women don’t generally show too much flesh and look a lot more natural – no hair gel or gel nails, no fashion excesses, no trainers except for sport etc. But their au naturel look is sometimes a bit too natural – lots of grey hair, good quality and stylish clothes that are covered in stains or cats’ hair etc. I work at a university, and virtually all female lecturers look like this. In the past ,Czech women always seemed to be somewhere in between the two extremes to me. Sometimes trendy, sometimes not, sometimes stylish, sometimes not but the clothes were usually clean and with no holes. Also they were usually more appropriate for their body shape. Nowadays though, I see a lot more muffin tops in Czech lands than ever before. Globalisation???

    And now men – British men I must say were a very pleasant surprise to me. They definitely know what a deodorant is and how to use it and they know what to wear (mostly – again, class plays a huge role here). And, unlike Czech men, they would never sport a mullet or sandals with socks (actually, they don’t seem to wear sandals full stop). A short anecdote here – once I walked in the centre of Oxford and saw a busker in sandals and socks and thought – wow, that’s a surprise – some British men have no taste just like (some) Czech men! About 10 minutes later the same guy walked into the cafe I was sitting in and oops – he was speaking Czech! Unlike Czech women, Czech men are starting to dress better than they used to 15 years ago (my brother does anyway!).

    To sum up, I don’t think either of us should accuse the other of a lack of style as we all sometimes commit fashion crimes. Also, we should be aware that what’s normal in one country is not normal in another. In fact, there is no normal. And that is true for clothes as well as values and beliefs. “Normal” is restricted by borders.

    Best wishes from Oxford


    • girlinczechland

      Hi Vera,

      Of course I agree that both nations are guilty of their own style crimes but if I just strugged my shoulders every time I noticed something here I thought was strange or funny and said to myself ‘Oh well, each to their own, it’s just cultural differences’ then there would be no blog! I do try to see both sides of whatever issue I decide to tackle and always try to poke fun in as respectful and lighthearted way as I can manage (my mixed feelings about the enterprise were expressed through the dialogue format here).

      Anyway, hopefully I manage to get the balance right most of the time. Socks with sandals though – now that’s just wrong 😉


      • Czecharev

        Just saw my British colleague (a lecturer) in sandals and socks! And a bum bag… I love the American expression for it – a fanny pack 🙂

      • girlinczechland

        Oh nooooo! Send him back to England for re-education immediately!


      • Czecharev

        He is in England! In Oxford out of all places 🙂 Can’t really get much posher than Oxford…

  38. katherina

    I dont want czechs to be more stylish xD. I like them the way they are. I live surrounded by czech people, and not old ones. No no… normal young people in a czech kolej. And wooooww, they dont know how to wear clothes.. hahahahah.
    But I say it not necessarily like a bad thing. Please… in my country in South America you can see much more worse things. Its just funny, that´s it. And if they didn´t dress like that, what would we be talking about?

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