Last Sunday I was walking around the centre of Kyiv and watched the girls and women who were passing by. And I have to tell you a pretty banal, but not very expected from a fashion blogger thing. Our women are not only amazingly beautiful. They are also dressed in an amazing and very modern way. Much better than in many countries in Europe and the world.
I’m telling you this as someone who visited nine countries only throughout last year. And more than 25 countries throughout my life. Therefore, I have something to compare with and justify my conclusions.
We have long been accustomed to the fact that our women are constantly accused of bad taste, ridiculous outfits and heavy consequences of the Soviet regime, which affected the public understanding of aesthetics. The Ukrainian women are compared with the ones from Italy / France / the US / any other country and always not in our favour. Some say our women are not aware of fashion trends, some, on the contrary, claim that they are the victims of fashion that put on all the best at once. Some think our women are unkempt, with outdated hairstyles and homemade manicure, some, on the contrary, believe that they are overly well-groomed, so much that they look like artificial dolls, “and no one in Europe looks this way”.
This all is not true, at least because such crude generalizations are almost never true. And in such maxims, people generalize not only our women but also some mythical “Europeans” or “women from the civilized countries”. However, in reality, they do not exist. There is no general, average portrait of a “woman from a civilized country”, it is a spherical horse in a vacuum. Women are different. All dressed and groomed differently.
You can often hear that only post-Soviet women walk with pouty lips taking over half of their faces and acrylic nails with artistic painting. Allegedly, you can immediately recognize a compatriot abroad by artificial lips, painted eyebrows and the rest of the tuning. They say, in Europe, nobody looks this way. This is not true because all these beauty technologies were not invented in Ukraine. They are all developed elsewhere, which means they are in demand there. And both in the US, and in Europe, there is a certain category of women who do not consider themselves sufficiently well-groomed until they “improve” themselves to complete unrecognizability as well. And here in Ukraine, this is also only a certain category of women. They’re just very conspicuous.
Also, we can often hear that our women are supposedly daily in full combat readiness, take out the garbage on high heels and with red lipstick right from the early morning, because what if she meets the prince of her dreams near the trash can, and she will not be ready. And in Europe, they say, everyone stopped to wear high heels or lipstick a long time ago. But in fact, not every Ukrainian woman is on high heels from the early morning and with make-up every day. And in Europe, especially in the South, you can see a lot of high-heeled shoes and made-up faces in the streets. Somewhere in Barcelona, red lipstick is like coffee, it is everywhere and can easily be seen in the morning. In the end, the shops of decorative cosmetics are somehow still open all around the world – and the new brands keep appearing. On average, we have a bit more women with moderate daytime makeup on the streets than anywhere else in Northern Germany, but certainly no more than in Italy.
They also say that our women have little understanding of the appropriateness of the outfit on different occasions, that they do not know how to stick to the dress code. That they wear jeans to the opera or dress up for work as though for some party. And when there really is a party and you have to wear an evening dress – it usually is a stylish horror and Apocalypse. Here it should be noted that the erosion and the simplification of the dress code, the shift of boundaries and the mix of styles is a global trend. Around the world, people wear jeans everywhere – if not leggings or sweat pants. Opera and theatres, in general, cease to be a place people dress up for. Even in famous theatres like the Metropolitan Opera or the Grand Opera, most of the public is usually dressed quite ordinary.
And when it comes to the dresses for special events, selecting and wearing them is a separate art. Princesses and movie stars learn that, plus they have teams working for them. But ordinary women around the world do not often have to dress up for the ball, so they were able to do it on a professional level. So, don’t judge so strictly.
The truth is that matching the context, understanding the appropriateness of the outfit and taste are not matters of the country of origin. It is a matter of aesthetic education, taste and awareness. And our women are also often accused of this – the lack of aesthetic education and awareness. They say that French women inherited the art of dressing from each other, as well as the Italians. They have had fashion magazines for decades, they have had movies and television as guides to fashion trends, and who should have we learned from behind the iron curtain? And it’s all true, but… It is also true that the iron curtain fell more than 30 years ago. During this time, the new generation of women who did not live in isolation has managed to grow up and give birth to their own daughters.
This year, the new season of the television series Beverly Hills 90210 is released. This television show, which began in 1990 and lasted 10 years, was incredibly popular in the world. But for us, it is a landmark because it was the first long show that hit our screens almost simultaneously with the whole world. With minimal delay. We were watching how the American teenagers live, how they dress, what hairstyles they wear almost in real time. And it was incredibly exciting for my peers because we were almost the same age as the heroes of the series. Of course, it was a bit of a fictional world, like any show. But the style and fashion of that period was conveyed very accurately and, most importantly, on time! Most of us did not have such things then, we did not have money to buy them, but at least we understood already then what the world was wearing. And that was almost 30 years ago.
Today, in the age of social networks and high-speed Internet, this is no surprise. The same fashion ideas can be stolen by swiping the feed on the ocean shore in California, on the Seine in Paris or in a coffee shop in the centre of Kyiv. So, if you want, you can follow the fashion trends synchronously with the whole world. Moreover, the same or very similar things can be bought all over the world at the same time.
Gone are the days when a trendy outfit could only be brought from abroad or found somewhere in questionable shops with a random set of things. Gone are even the days when the Ukrainian stores of famous brands got things of the previous seasons. Today the stores of large international chains in Ukraine sell the same things as in other European countries. In addition, in recent years a number of our own brands that produce clothes and shoes of decent quality and in full compliance with global trends have grown.
I can only add that Ukraine belongs to those countries where women like to dress up and to be well-groomed. And do not say, that it all is manifestations of patriarchy and competition for men. Not all women and not always dress up for men, we should have long memorized it. Stylish clothes may have a lot of other purposes: success in career or business, psychological comfort, in the end – a form of creativity and self-expression. Italians and Spaniards also like to dress nicely, for some reason they are not criticized for it, rather the opposite.
To sum it up, our women have access to information, access to fashion and the desire to take advantage of all this. So, they look better and better every year.
Let’s stop comparing our women with others and blame them in all stylish sins. Let’s stop spreading the myths that our compatriots can be spotted from a kilometre distance abroad, it had stopped being so long ago. Leave this inferiority and the syndrome of the Soviet person, we are no worse than Europeans. Go outside: there are a lot of beautiful women in stylish clothes, with modern hairstyles and cute smiles. Stop comparing ordinary Ukrainian women with top models, world-famous fashion bloggers and movie stars on the red carpet. Compare them with the same ordinary women in any country of the world, and you will see that our women do not only look good by nature but can sometimes give master classes on style and successful shopping. And given the fact that our women on average have fewer material resources for this, stylish beauties on our streets deserve even more compliments.
Maya Tulchynska, fashion blogger