Evidently I’ve lived in Europe way too long because this morning, without any reservation what-so-ever, I put on the exact same outfit I wore to work yesterday.
Granted, I was up at corporate HQ in Stockhom all day Monday, so no one here at the divisional office actually saw me in these clothes. (And even if they had, they wouldn’t think a thing about it…or possibly even notice.) But I know and the fact that I’m okay with it is a sure sign that I’m slowly but surely becoming “acculturated.”
Now I am FAR from a fashion plate (ask anyone who knows me), but when I was working in the U.S., I wouldn’t have been caught dead in the same ensemble within TWO WEEKS’ time, and I had colleagues who could easily go a whole month without wearing the same combination of clothes.
This personal rule had nothing to do with whether or not the clothes were clean…in the winter-time I can usually wear the same pair of slacks or a sweater several times before they need to be washed. I think most people can and do, actually…even Americans. But when you wear something two days in a row it pretty much leaves no doubt that it hasn’t been washed since you had it on last, and in my observations at least, most Swedes don’t seem to be too bothered by that and have no qualms about showing up for work in same outfit on consecutive days.
When I first moved here I was appalled by this practice and even asked my Swedish teachers (who were often guilty of it) why it was so common. I can’t recall the exact explanations they gave…something historic to do with hauling water from a well, or the fact that lots of city-dwelling Swedes live in large apartment buildings where they are limited as to how often they can book the communal laundry rooms. At the time, I wasn’t buying it. I even tried my best to break Dr. Darling of the habit with mixed results.
Later I learned to be a little envious of this attitude. And today…I appear to be just one short step away from embracing it myself. And once that happens, can “going over to the other side” of the American vs. European Personal Hygiene Disparity* be very far behind? ACK!
*More on my theory about the American vs. European Personal Hygiene Disparity can be found here.