Cafes jammed full during working hours, the ability to nurse one coffee for over an hour, lots of people puffing on cigarettes and the seemingly high number of girls dressed to the nines for a simple stroll to the shops.
Those are just some of the observations tourists point out when when visiting Croatia. Now with a relatively high unemployment rate the first three can be understood.
But what is it with girls obsession to look as if they are on the catwalk modelling the latest Versace piece and not just popping down to the shop to get a loaf of bread and a packet of Marlboro lights?
In a number of other cities around the world, girls popping out to the shops with a jumper over their PJs, or a hat to disguise ‘morning hair’, is not given a second look. In Croatia leaving the house in clothes you wear around the house is generally a big faux pas.
“From a Croatian point of view, one can never be over-dressed. For some, being over-dressed would probably mean walking in high-heels when attending an everyday lecture at the university, but not here. On the other hand, going to the shops usually excludes the clothes we use to walk around our house. Because, you see, it is normal that every type of clothes and shoes has its own purpose. Or so I am told”, local Iva Ralica explains.
Iva says that girls in Croatia love to dress nicely. Leaving the house and entering ‘society’ is an opportunity.
An opportunity to be seen, photographed and spotted. Looking your best all the time is key and the ‘outside’ world is one big stage.
“Girls from Croatia follow trends or have a taste for real fashion maybe even more than those from some other countries. It is now ingrained into the culture really and It comes naturally”, Iva says, adding that of course not everyone follows this rule and there are an increasing number who are not bothered at all.
“There aren’t necessarily any actually social rules for the type of clothes girls should wear when popping out to the shops or grabbing a cup of coffee. Certain rules apply for going to Church, institutions and restaurants”.
Croatia has been blessed with very beautiful women, and maybe that also plays a part in girls trying to look their best when they go out.
Nothing typifies this more than the Špica (shpitza) social phenomenon which goes on every Saturday morning and early afternoon in most cities in Croatia as street around the centre turn into a fashion runway.
“Maybe we just like to play dress up. And dress up nicely. Some overdo it, let´s be honest, but in the end, we all dress up according to our “style”, the way of life or the weather forecast”, Iva concludes.
(photo credits: Fotovijesti)