Eye For the Guys: Observations from Berlin


Author: Noel Hemphill

I’m an avid people watcher. Probably to a creepy level. Whenever my sister and I hit up the shopping-palooza that is Mall of America (which you need to go to with a friend otherwise you might perish), we usually take a mid-day break in the food court to rest our feet and take in the scenery. Over Diet Cokes taller than Mary Antoinette’s hair, we quietly comment on outfits or overly-affectionate couples and try to pick out the tourists. Its an honored tradition of ours, and once our thirsts have been quenched, we continue to pillage the many shops around us. This past weekend in Germany, I learned that my little people watching habit is nothing compared to the staring problem of Berlin’s men. If a man stares at you, and you return the stare for longer than a second, this is taken as a cue that you are interested. Because of this, I certainly couldn’t take pictures of the fashion flubs I saw, but fear not – I’ve got plenty to gripe about.

Berliners are perpetrators of many fashion faux-pas, wearing looks that I have come to call “EuroTrash.” Since the city is made up of so many different foreigners, I do not want to blame Germans alone on their apparent lack of fashion sense, especially since I’ve seen similar crimes throughout my European travels. In fact, my knowledge of the EuroTrash look goes back to middle and high school as my school hosted many exchange students from across Europe.

The look is most frequently carried out by males. Women, with our plethora of fashion magazines, boutiques, blogs and television programs about style, seemed to have figured out how to ditch this heinous look. The guys, meanwhile, remain hopeless. Let me explain the elements of a true EuroTrash outfit. Starting on top, we find a too-tight, single color shirt, that will almost always have some brand emblazoned across the chest. Diesel, Ed Hardy by Christian Audigier, Abercrombie and Fitch and Hollister are all popular options but can also be substituted for the equally unfortunate male deep v-neck.

Moving on to the pants. If the male in question is wearing a white top, chances are he will also be wearing white cargo pants with more zips and pockets than could ever be necessary. If the top is any other color, then we have jeans to worry about. Taking a cue from the women, EuroTrash males will wear a brand name across their behind, the label hideously large and painstakingly stitched into the denim. If they do not have a brand name across their butts, then the male will wear jeans that are more embellished than any pair I’ve ever seen a girl wear. This means fading, discoloration, rips and stains ALL on the same pair of jeans. The jeans are then topped off with another label heavy belt, with an enormous buckle that indicates there must be some sort of compensation going on.

Accessories are next. Clashing color Nike tennis shoes are a popular choice, as are all white Puma tennis shoes. The shoes are kept in incredibly good condition, labels always in sight, though the male likely is lacking hygiene. Sunglasses are enormous, wrap around style, with black-out lenses and are worn at any hour in any weather. Rope bracelets, silver and gold chains, enormous stud earrings and gaudy, heavy rings will be used liberally by the EuroTrash male. Also used liberally will be hair gel, bleach and fake tanner.

If I had a Euro coin for every time I saw a EuroTrash outfit on just the Berlin subway system, I would be able to buy a Chanel bag within just a couple metro stops. I really hope this look never comes across the pond in such strength as I saw in Germany, for it is an assault to all of the senses, not just the eyes. Surely if the Berlin Wall can come down, we can eradicate this look.

Auf Wiedersehen, EuroTrash. I’ll take the morning jackets, corduroy pants and sueded boots of British men any day.

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