Sunday, July 26, 2009

On the Chilean runway - part two

Good morning, boys and girls. It's time for part two of On the Chilean Runway.

As has been previously established, the streets of Santiago are fertile soil for inventive fashion statements. This weekend alone, I've noticed two particular styles that hold their own against even the most glaringly neon of fanny packs:

1. Gring@s in shorts. I work in an area frequented by fellow gring@s. With a new semester poised to begin in August, gaggles of eager exchange students (ah, those were the days) have caused the area's foreign population to swell even further.

Fresh exchange students are easy to distinguish from tourists because 1) they travel in groups the size of the freshman hordes that show up outside senior parties the first week of college, 2) they engage in animated getting-to-know-you-in-an-awkward-new-setting conversation ("Do you guys say 'pop' or 'soda' in Connecticut?"), and 3) they drink in their surroundings deliberately, visibly filing away each new piece of information for future use.

I've spotted dozens of newbie exchange students this past week. And a few of them have been wearing shorts.

Dude. You guys. It's cold. Below-freezing-at-night cold. Top-story-on-the-evening-news cold. Wear-leggings-and-two-pairs-of-socks-under-your-pants cold. I know you're suffering in those shorts. I know you did enough climate research before you came here to know you would be. I know there's at least one pair of jeans in the half-unpacked duffel in your room at your host family's house. What I don't know is why you're not wearing them.

2. A chilena in pajamas. Last night, I went to a gas station to buy liquor (yes, it has come to that). The place was populated by a handful of other people with the same idea -- and with a chilena dressed in tennis shoes and a pair of bright orange polarfleece pajamas.

I would think nothing of this if someone did it in the States. But, while I would hardly say they dress formally, Santiaguinos tend to be more reticent about letting the world see them in their grungiest. When I walk to the bakery in my sweatpants in the morning, I can't help but feel underdressed. And if, on top of that, if I'm not wearing earrings -- well, I might as well be naked.

So, like the Egyptian pyamids and my short-clad compatriots, the chilena in the orange pajamas is a mystery.


Abby said...

WOW. A chilena in pajamas in public. Now THAT is a sight to see!! I'm considering going to the grocery store right now in my sweats...but I think I'll put some earrings on just to not stick out too much ;)

lydia said...

sounds like one awesome chilena.
i am the only person i've ever seen wearing pjs in public here.

no shame, no regrets.

Margaret said...

hmmm I wonder about those shorts guys... I used to work in an exchange program and there was always at least ONE who showed up expecting the tropics because hey! It's Latin America... and it's hot there, right?

Sara said...

This post cracked me up. I love the herds of foreign exchange students. the other day (no more like the other month) I heard a big group of them screaming at each other in Spanish. Not obvious. Not at all.