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  Fashion in Culture
by Casey Jay
12.10.2008
 

Fashion is an important part of life in American society. The clothes we wear almost always say something about who we are. But how does American style present itself to other parts of the world? What do our daily choices say about us to visitors? Several foreign-exchange students attending San Jose State University revealed their likes, dislikes, and first impressions of Bay Area fashion. “As soon as I came here I noticed the laid back environment,” said Arianna Agresti from Milan, Italy. “I would never go out in a sweat suit back home, but I do here because people don’t care,” she added.

 
   
“A lot of people in Ireland wouldn’t be as laid back as me,”
 
The description of California style as “laid back” is consistent among students from many countries like Australia, Ireland, and China. Most of them said they enjoy the casual attire, although they wouldn’t dress the same in their home countries as they do here. “A lot of people in Ireland wouldn’t be as laid back as me,” said Kevin Mitchell of Waterford, Ireland. He said people usually dress up for college back home, but that San Jose’s casual style suits him just fine.  
“I try to look more casual and wear what everybody else is wearing”
 
 
“But here, it’s winter, ok go shopping”

Sherry Sun from Beijing, China said the first thing she did when she came to America one year ago was stop wearing high heels. “My favorite trend here is sandals,” Sun said, “we don’t wear a lot of them in China.” Michela Capozza from Milan, Italy, also tones down her daily wardrobe. “I try to look more casual and wear what everybody else is wearing,” she said. Agresti agreed, adding that she sometimes received comments from her peers about her dressy outfits. “People will say ‘oh my gosh, what are you wearing?’ But it’s just normal for us,” she said. The girls explained that at home in Milan there is no written code for how one should dress each day, but that they put a lot of thought into their outfits before leaving the house. “Even jeans and a t-shirt have to be the right jeans and the right t-shirt,” Capozza said. Agresti added that if students in Milan were to wear what students wore in San Jose, they would definitely get comments from their professors.

 

Gupta said that another big difference is the variety of styles available throughout the year. “In India you don’t have seasonal wear,” she said. “But here, it’s winter, ok go shopping.” And just what stores are students from around the world drawn too? Urban Outfitters, Forever 21, and Abercrombie & Fitch were some of the favorites. Many students also said they like taking trips to San Francisco for shopping where the feel a bit more at home among the artsy culture. Lani Parrocha from Sydney, Australia said she loves shopping, but said there’s one thing she definitely won’t buy while in the United States. “Nobody where’s Uggs back home,” she said of the pricy, fur-lined boots that have become a winter staple for many here in America. Parrocha said if she did want a pair, she would buy them in Australia where they’re cheaper, and even then she would only wear them around the house.

 

 

 
“A lot of the time girls here are running around half-naked”
The two also said that although they have adjusted to the casual style, they still find certain aspects of American fashion shocking. “A lot of the time girls here are running around half-naked,” Agresti said. Natasha Gupta from Mumbai, India said that American clothes, or lack of them in some cases, can certainly be a culture shock. “India is very conservative,” she explained, “it’s a big contrast when you come here and see midriff and ass. People are much more comfortable in their own skin.”