Sunday, 2 August 2015

Finnish Countryside Fashion

A few weeks ago, my friend Kirsi wrote on Facebook that she was relieved that her 3 year old daughter had finally grown out of her Crocs, as she thought the footwear was an "awful fashion-faux-pas".

I had to point out to her that she might be very mistaken about Crocs not being fashionable, as I had just returned from the Finnish countryside, and there, virtually everybody was wearing them!

The thing about people in the countryside, especially those of a certain age, is that they take a pragmatic approach to fashion. What they wear is driven by their lifestyle, not by the arbitrary view of some urban fashionista.

From what I have seen in supermarkets and other public places, mature people in the Finnish countryside seem to follow two major trends.

The first is the fashion for sportswear. If the number of middle-aged people wearing shiny (usually blue) nylon tracksuits is anything to go by, sport and fitness (before and after shopping) are very important in the countryside. Possibly.

The other major fashion trend I have noticed in the Finnish countryside is the hunter/fisherman look. This involves wearing cool camouflage gear, and in particular two very important accessories (yes, countryside folk do accessorise!): a camouflage cap, and a camouflage waistcoat, with many pockets.

The importance of those last two items was underlined for me a few years ago when I saw a portly middle aged Finn at a petrol/gas station just outside Porvoo on a warm summer's day. He was filling up his car while wearing a camouflage waistcoat, a camouflage cap, subtly combined with Crocs (see Kirsi?), and tight black Speedos  and nothing else. So even on a hot day, the waistcoat and cap remained de rigeur.

I have to admit that, as the man stood there, holding the fuel nozzle approximately at Speedo-height with his large belly protruding from his waistcoat, he looked quite stunning. Not quite in a London catwalk kind of way, admittedly.

I suspect Kirsi, as the well-travelled cosmopolitan she is, might dismiss Finnish countryside trendiness out of hand. Yet, during my recent stay in Satakunta, I was hugely impressed with how up-to-date with fashion the shops were.

Only a few weeks earlier, I had read for the first time in the British press how ripped, muscular bodies were out of fashion, and "dad-bods" were now in (something that I was rather pleased about, to be honest).  Lo and behold, as I stood in the entrance of a countryside Tokmanni, I spotted an advert featuring a young, good looking male model, with an up-to-date body. Übercool!


And that, Kirsi, is why Crocs are not a fashion faux-pas amongst the real cognoscenti!


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