Monday, April 20, 2009

An Wardrobe Guide to Nationality

The city has come to life again after its long grey winter. Tourists are back (not that they ever went away) and bare skin is being, well, bared.

Sitting in the park yesterday and sipping my white wine, I devised an interesting game (for me - The Man soon tired): What nationality? Using only what the person was wearing as a guide, we would try to determine from where the individual hailed. The only drawback was that: a. Said person had to be speaking as they walked by so we could hear their accent/language; and b. We had to know enough of that language to identify it or the accent.

Here are my observations (yes, yes, it's a stereotype, I know):

Americans: Very easily identifiable, mostly because of their shoes. White sneakers, on both men and women. I have yet to see a British person wear white sneakers (or trainers, as they're called here). Also fanny packs (known as bum bags here - 'fanny' here means, er, the frontal part).

Canadians: Who knows? I can't actually tell the difference between a Canadian and an American accent. But mostly like Americans, I guess (treasonous, I know).

Italians: Sunglasses, sunglasses, sunglasses. Big ones. Jeans and short trendy jackets.

Spanish: Lots of clothes. The temperatures in London are equivalent to their winter.

French: Scarves. Tied in the way that only French people can tie them.

Polish: Red hair. I will never understand why a 60-year-old woman (for example) would want carroty red hair. It's a mystery to me.

Arab: Well, the head-scarves were a bit of a giveaway, although that doesn't necessarily make them Arabs.

Thus we exhausted our linguistic knowledge.


Karen van Wyk said...

I'm terrible with accents so I would be clueless.

The Springbok rugby jersey usually gives me away, although even that is not a guarantee. I once accosted a guy in Bradford wearing one and asked where he was from. He was from Leeds and had never been out of the UK. Oops! :D

Marsha said...

Oh! I forgot South Africans, Karen! Actually, they're harder to tell.

Aussies - shorts and flip-flops ('thongs' in their venacular).

Kiwis - same as Aussies? Sorry, Kiwis. If you guys wear something distinguisable, let me know!

catie said...

How do you distinguish the natives? :)

Nancy J. Parra said...

Funny! what do Brits wear?

Marsha said...

Excellent question, Nancy and Catie! Hm, to generalize the British wardrobe - sensible shoes (but not trainers); beige trouses and corduroy jackets. Picture the 'country gentleman' look but a bit scruffier. For men, anyway. Women are generally non-descript.

gurkhadan said...

Wow - can't belive you admit to not being able to distinguish between Cannuck and US accents!!!

As for British dress sense - corduroy jackets?? You spend to much time amongst teachers (presumably over 50).

Dan Atkinson (former colleague).