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What are the clothes that define the USA?
March 11, 2010 4:01 PM   Subscribe

What would be considered "traditional" clothing for the United States?

I attended an International function at my college where several international students wore traditional clothing from their countries - Sari (Indian), Hanbok (South Korea), Danshiki (North Africa), etc... Which led a young lady to ask me about the traditional clothing of the United States.

All I could think to say was, "jeans and a t-shirt." Maybe cowboy boots and hats - and baseball caps. I dunno. There's Native American clothing, which doesn't encompass *all* of the United States. But those cannot be the only items of clothing that are quintessentially American.

I just can't think of anything, so I bring it to you, what would you consider clothing that says United States like a sari says India?
posted by patheral to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (62 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Either jeans/t-shirt or a suit. I suppose you could bust out knickers and a powdered wig, but...
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:03 PM on March 11, 2010


My vote is for jeans.
posted by reductiondesign at 4:06 PM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


How old of a wearer, and what gender, do you have in mind?
posted by box at 4:07 PM on March 11, 2010


I think the quintessential American item of clothing is the pair of jeans -- don't forget during the cold war they traded hands in the Warsaw Pact area almost as a symbol of democracy.

The men's suit as we know it is a British invention, so that doesn't work.

The issue here really though is that America (and any other nation that started off as a colony) is really too young to have "traditional" clothing in the way that other countries will. And as a colony, it will likely be a mash of various other things.
posted by modernnomad at 4:07 PM on March 11, 2010


As modernnomad points out, due to the nation's youth, we really don't have one. Closest: Blue jeans, t-shirt, and a baseball cap.
posted by Tomorrowful at 4:08 PM on March 11, 2010


A friend of mine who lives in France and has never been to the US was very interested in getting clothes with American university logos on them because, she said, they're "very American." So maybe a sweatshirt and cap that have your college's logo on it (although that might seem like you're just not trying).

Also, shorts. That's one of the main ways you can spot Americans in foreign countries.
posted by Jaltcoh at 4:09 PM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Square dance apparel gives you a sense of what (a particular community of) people who are into (a particular kind of) American folklore think of as traditional getup.
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:09 PM on March 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


You're likely to get a bunch of snarky answers on the order of "HURF DURF SHORTS AND BAD SOCKS AND A T-SHIRT FOR SOMETHING STUPID AMIRITE?"

One of the problems you're going to run into is that these traditional garments are something between "the things we used to wear before we mostly started wearing standard western clothes" and "the things we wear when we're not wearing standard western clothes, so we feel more like us."

And for countries where most people just wear standard western clothes all the time, there isn't going to be much of an other.

I'm going to side with "there isn't a traditional clothing of the US in the sense you mean." It's part of being a mostly dominant assimilating culture instead of a globally smaller partly-assimilated one.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:09 PM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, sneakers.
posted by box at 4:09 PM on March 11, 2010


Hats with belts on them? (non american here!)
posted by smoke at 4:10 PM on March 11, 2010


Jeans, jeans, jeans--whether regular old jeans or a pair of overalls or, god forbid, a jean extravaganza.
posted by sallybrown at 4:10 PM on March 11, 2010


The issue here really though is that America (and any other nation that started off as a colony) is really too young to have "traditional" clothing in the way that other countries will.
I don't think it's youth. A lot of European countries' "traditional folk costumes" are mid-19th century, I think. It's more that America's particular brand of nationalism has never been the kind of nationalism that demands a "folk culture" and hence a "folk costume."
posted by craichead at 4:19 PM on March 11, 2010


Hats with belts on them?

Also, belts with hats on them.
posted by box at 4:26 PM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wikipedia has some suggestions.
posted by missmagenta at 4:28 PM on March 11, 2010


I think it is the youth, but it's also the fact that American culture is a mixture of cultures from diverse origins. Even if the US existed at the time when European "folk costumes" were still worn, it still didn't exist nearly long enough to develop its own national costumes distinct from those of the countries that Americans came from. (That process may take at hundreds of years, and due to globalization etc. it may never even happen again.)
posted by k. at 4:31 PM on March 11, 2010


I'm thinking frontier, Davy Crockett type stuff (assuming you specifically want "white American" and not "Native American", which is pretty traditional American, though).
posted by mendel at 4:32 PM on March 11, 2010


I just can't think of anything, so I bring it to you, what would you consider clothing that says United States like a sari says India?

Although you have pointed out the problems with it, under this criteria, I'm going to say Cowboy.

If you went for "jeans and t-shirt", that doesn't actually say United States - it says Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, France etc. etc. just as much, doesn't it, given that it's a fashion that's only 50 years old and sprung up everywhere over a short time period?

I'm Australian, and if someone asked this question about Australia, I would be inclined to think Akubra hats and Driz-a-bone coates. That is incredibly, awfully cliched, but it is unique to Australia, and it does say Australia to people.

If I saw someone in jeans and a t-shirt, I wouldn't think United States. If I saw someone in cowboy clothing, I would think United States.
posted by Jimbob at 4:33 PM on March 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


If you went for "jeans and t-shirt", that doesn't actually say United States - it says Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, France etc. etc. just as much, doesn't it, given that it's a fashion that's only 50 years old and sprung up everywhere over a short time period?

Except it did not spring up everywhere. It absolutely originated in the US. US Soldiers in WWII were issued undershirts (aka T-shirts) and began to wear them as outerwear when they returned home. They wore them to cut the grass in places like Levitown, 60+ years ago. Then they went mainstream. Jeans were for hoodlums or bikers (see The Wild Ones, again returning WWII vets). Then they went mainstream.
posted by fixedgear at 4:42 PM on March 11, 2010


Pilgrims

Pioneers

Amish

club kids

Flower Children

posted by brookeb at 4:43 PM on March 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Even if the US existed at the time when European "folk costumes" were still worn,
I don't think that European folk costumes were ever just randomly worn. They were invented, or at least codified, in the mid-19th century as part of a romantic nationalist project.

I'd be curious to know whether there are any new nations that have "national costumes." My hunch is that there are, although I can't think of any off hand. I think that Hawaiian "Aloha wear" would qualify as a regional costume, and Hawaii isn't any less multicultural than the mainland.
posted by craichead at 4:44 PM on March 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hmm. Speaking of bikers--are there subcultural costumes that are particularly American?
posted by box at 4:44 PM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


According to the "It's A Small World" attraction at Disney World, cowboy gear (complete with lassos).

But then again, the same ride thinks traditional French dress is to be a can-can girl from the Moulin Rouge, so take it with a grain of salt.
posted by ocherdraco at 4:44 PM on March 11, 2010


Except it did not spring up everywhere. It absolutely originated in the US.

But does it say US, or does it just make people think you were lazy and turned up to a costume party without a costume? Is a certain style of clothing a "national dress" because it was invented somewhere, or because it is unique and distinct?
posted by Jimbob at 4:49 PM on March 11, 2010


Seriously: Jorts + sports team logo'd shirt.

Not so: Big Dogs apparel.
posted by turbodog at 4:49 PM on March 11, 2010


Blue jeans were designed in the 1850's, if I remember correctly, for the gold miners. They are definitely an American clothing, as is the cowboy hat and the baseball cap. I think that boots came from Europe but we changed them to fit us - hence the cowboy boots.

I didn't know that about the t-shirt...

I guess jeans and a t-shirt would be the unique American clothing items I'm looking for then.
posted by patheral at 4:49 PM on March 11, 2010


Erm, sorry. Mefi's server just coughed up a furball.
posted by Jimbob at 4:50 PM on March 11, 2010


The clothing that on my first visit to the States in '76 struck me as really different in comparison to European countries was all the large-checkered stuff for the grown ups: ill-fitting Bermuda shorts in green and blue squares, or a whole gentleman's suit checkered in reddish tints, that kind of thing. [light-blue-tinted gray hair on elderly ladies, too - no clothing perhaps but still].
At the time, white sneakers were also distinctive for US clothing. We (Germans) all came in one or another kind of sloppy brown leather shoes with soft soles (which fused very effectively with dropped and tread-on grilled marshmallows). But that has changed, just as the thing with baseball caps, and the once-distinctive excess use of chewing gum [no clothing either...].

Jeans and t-shirts, on the other hand, were common goods even in Europe since who knows when. I'm addicted since the mid-seventies, and I am certainly not alone.
posted by Namlit at 4:52 PM on March 11, 2010


Traditional in the sense that if you wore it, you would fit right in, in the midwest would be.

A synthetic fleece of any sort.
A college-logoed, overly-large grey sweatshirt
Bluejeans that are a bit too large
Low-topped white running shoe, with white tube socks.
posted by 517 at 4:53 PM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm thinking frontier, Davy Crockett type stuff (assuming you specifically want "white American" and not "Native American", which is pretty traditional American, though).

Actually, I'm looking for something that encompasses all of the U.S. citizens - if that's possible. I think most of us do wear jeans and t-shirts, though the quality probably varies greatly.

Native Americans make up a small percentage of the population, so I'd look pretty ridiculous in their clothing if I were to attend a function and dress in "traditional" clothing.
posted by patheral at 4:57 PM on March 11, 2010


Speaking of bikers

Yeah, something like this would be pretty great.
posted by sallybrown at 5:01 PM on March 11, 2010


Perhaps something to think about is that many traditional garments have something to do with traditional work and life. Someone mentioned that the closest Australia has to a traditional costume is the akubra hat and the driz-a-bone jacket, and that it is incredibly cliched. Thing is though... if you spend much time in rural Australia (eg. NSW or Victoria) you'll see a huge number of farmers wearing just that. Combine those two garments with RM Williams type garb and I think you have a pretty fair approximation of the clothes that are worn on farms and in country towns by a significant proportion of the population. This might not represent urban dress norms, but that is where fashion comes into play and so the idea of workwear is diluted somewhat.

SO, if we apply this logic to the USA what do we get? I'd suggest that the USA has its own particular brand of workwear that makes it unique. Think denim (not jeans per se, but denim workwear), the undershirt (predecessor to the tshirt), plaid shirts or workwear shirts (Dickies brand etc) and - to an extent - hoodies. I guess when I think of American traditional garb, I'm thinking of a hybrid of people who work the land (farmers etc), who build things (ie. tradesmen) and people who work in the service of the community (firefighters etc). All these jobs have a certain practicality to their daily clothes, as described above.

As a relevant sideline, I think traditional costumes are often perceived as saying something about the aesthetics and values of a society. The USA has traditionally been the "land of opportunity" where you go to make something of yourself through hard work. So it seems fitting that workwear be the national costume of the United States.
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 5:01 PM on March 11, 2010 [10 favorites]


Plaid shirts would fit in here, methinks.
posted by andrewcilento at 5:02 PM on March 11, 2010


clothes that are worn on farms and in country towns by a significant proportion of the population.

Denim bib overalls, sturdy work boots, barn jacket, buffalo plaid wool shirt, newsboy hat for men. (Makes me wish I was a kid in the country again.) Covers well over 125 years. For women, it's a little tougher.

I totally agree with Alice Russel-Wallace.
posted by jgirl at 5:15 PM on March 11, 2010


A different idea would be to 'appropriate' parts of several different cultures' costumes, in order to highlight the whole 'melting pot' thing.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 5:22 PM on March 11, 2010


Nthing "Jeans and a T-shirt" To rebut the "cowboy hat crowd", I'd like to point out that more Americans play World of Warcraft than make a living from farming.
posted by Oktober at 5:25 PM on March 11, 2010


Also, matched pants and shirts in a sort of brownish heavy cotton material ( which would collect perspiration that would evaporate and cool the wearer) , always worn with a straw hat (for the air circulation) and lace-up boots. My grandfather wore those working in the oil fields, but probably used the same working as a farmer 100 years ago. I know at least one farmer who wears that outfit today. I haven't seen any enduring women's garb outside the amish costume.
posted by path at 5:31 PM on March 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think most of us do wear jeans and t-shirts, though the quality probably varies greatly.

Yeah, but I could just as easily say that about Australia, or a million other locations. "National" dress, like national flags, etc. are symbols. They represent, but are not representative, nor meant to be.
posted by smoke at 5:38 PM on March 11, 2010


I think if I were to dress up as an American for an International Day, I would try to wear something like this (from head to toe):
Hijab or keffiyeh
Danshiki
Obi
Levi jeans
Wooden shoes

Because that's what we are, really -- a big mix of everything, all jumbled together.
posted by Houstonian at 5:40 PM on March 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


. . . ill-fitting Bermuda shorts in green and blue squares, or a whole gentleman's suit checkered in reddish tints, that kind of thing. [light-blue-tinted gray hair on elderly ladies, too - no clothing perhaps but still].

The former two became strongly discouraged very shortly afterwards, and remain but a shameful memory. The white-to-blue helmet hair of elderly ladies is a fixture still; in fact, "blue-hairs" has become a slang term for old ladies, at least where I'm from. I think it's a hangover from the bubble 'dos of the '50s and '60s, when these ladies were young.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:58 PM on March 11, 2010


I guess it depends on how far back you want traditional to go, and how you modify it:

traditional formal? traditional casual? traditional business? traditional work?

Frankly, when I think "traditional American" (meaning the USA), I think of a bone stock IBM style business suit. For most of our history, that is the uniform worn during all traditional types of events. And whatever the female equivalent of that is.

Everything else is a style of a various time, or a selection of a sub-culture.
posted by gjc at 6:45 PM on March 11, 2010


Surprised nobody has mentioned hip-hop gear: low-slung pants, hoodie, bling. Worldwide now, but surely American in origin.
posted by zadcat at 7:05 PM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


If I saw someone in cowboy clothing, I would think United States.

So's you know, plenty of Mexicans dress that way too. Which only makes sense, as cowboy culture grew out of the mixing of American and Mexican societies.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:16 PM on March 11, 2010


Anecdote: in the early 90s my family had an exchange student from France come stay with us. The first things she wanted to buy were cowboy boots and a cowboy hat. As of last year, she was still wearing them!
posted by hapax_legomenon at 7:16 PM on March 11, 2010


I don't think that European folk costumes were ever just randomly worn. They were invented, or at least codified, in the mid-19th century as part of a romantic nationalist project.

Europe is not a nation and in the mid-19th century wasn't even the "Community" that it is now. Please would you clarify what you are referring to?
posted by y6t5r4e3w2q1 at 7:30 PM on March 11, 2010


A British friend once dressed up as an American for Halloween. He wore a plaid shirt and a trucker's cap -- he looked very unlike himself, and very American.
posted by jb at 8:11 PM on March 11, 2010


Europe is not a nation and in the mid-19th century wasn't even the "Community" that it is now.
Large intellectual trends often aren't limited by national boundaries. The Enlightenment occurred in many different places that weren't all in the same country or community. Similarly, in the 19th century a lot of different people in a lot of different places got the idea that there were distinct "peoples" who shared blood, culture and language and that each "people" ought to have their own nation. Because these distinct national cultures didn't really exist, nationalists had to create them by doing things like standardizing languages and creating "traditional folk customs." National costumes were one of the things that were created in this process.
posted by craichead at 8:13 PM on March 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


I go with those who say Western wear.

I don't think that European folk costumes were ever just randomly worn. They were invented, or at least codified, in the mid-19th century as part of a romantic nationalist project.


This is generally true; in the 19th century, the development of nation-states meant that many Western cultures self-consciously created national narratives, including a national dress, that fudged together and blended earlier realities of more complex regions made up of parishes, tribal groupings, language groupings, local subcultures, etc. To a large degree, though, national costumes were based on the vernacular clothings of some of the more idealized regions, not made up of whole cloth, as it were - but they were reinterpreted in fanciful ways that really weren't what we'd call accurate or authentic peasant wear. Do read the Wikipedia entry linked above, which talks about "romantic nationalism."

With that history in mind, it's perfectly appropriate to consider Western wear America's default national dress. At the same time that other nations were developing costume styles that could travel to the international expo events and express something of the culture and lifeways of their people, Americans were engaged in all the industrial growth and expansion were entailed in fulfilling manifest destiny - subduing the West, building railroads and canals, homesteading, digging mines, working in factories. The most romantic - or at least romanticized - of the professions of that age was the range rider or cowboy. 'Cowboy' in 1850-1930ish became what 'sailor' had been in America in 1800-1820. It's also a pretty distinctive style of dress, not easily confused with any other culture or place on earth. It's influenced by Spanish and Native American ornamentation, but made of all-American fabrics like utilitarian denim and colorful calicos and wools from New England mills. That style of dress completely captures a unique element of the American imagination and a slice of late nineteenth century history. Lest you worry that it's too Anglo or somehow excludes ideas of American diversity- 25% of cowboys were black, a lot were Latino and Native, a lot Irish, German, Norwegian, Swedish, and Czech. So even this outfit was a way of homogeneizing and Americanizing a diverse population, creating an entirely new and share-able American costume.
posted by Miko at 8:13 PM on March 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Jeans, check shirt, boots, big belt buckle, stetson.
posted by pompomtom at 8:36 PM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


For women, if we're talking about traditional "historical" costume here, I'd submit that the sun bonnet (esp. in gingham) is a) unique to America and b) distinctly evokes America.

In general, if I think of American "traditional" clothing my mind immediately jumps to the type of costumes you would see in a Bicentennial parade, or a Founder's Day celebration.

So, you can wear jeans and look like a '49-er if you're a guy; the natural extension of that is the clothing of the American Prairie for women.
posted by anastasiav at 8:36 PM on March 11, 2010


Blue jeans were designed in the 1850's, if I remember correctly, for the gold miners.

The garment Levi Strauss had been producing for years was denim bib overalls, but they found great success with the new abbreviated and riveted waist-high overalls which we now know as jeans. (history)

Surprised nobody has mentioned hip-hop gear ... worldwide now, but surely American in origin.

Unmentioned because the antithesis of "traditional" is faddy fashion like 'hip hop gear'. Traditional's what the old, respectable folks are wearing -- and have been wearing, for hundreds of years. Since the US is so young, my vote's for the Aloha shirt, with shorts and flip-flops. For women, not so easy -- maybe a June Cleaver gingham shirt-waist.

And high heels, wingtips, penny loafers or for the kids, Converse Chuck Taylors.
posted by Rash at 12:20 AM on March 12, 2010


As an outsider looking in, I expected the cowboy getup to be the obvious choice - that's the caricature around where I grew up, and immediately recognizable as American. I'm really baffled why it seems to be getting so little traction here.

Is it because it was only used in particular states the rest of you guys have trouble identifying with? (In which case I'd like to point out that many other traditional garbs now perceived to be emblematic of a particular country are originally regional, e.g. Russian women's sarafans, in reality only worn in the North.)
posted by sively at 1:08 AM on March 12, 2010


Stereotypical "American" dress to Europeans (or at least Germans) is a Hawaiian shirt and cowboy hat. Presumably together, which I've never actually seen.
posted by dagnyscott at 5:55 AM on March 12, 2010


Is it because it was only used in particular states the rest of you guys have trouble identifying with?

This might be part of it, but I think it's more of a rural/urban divide, with the prevalent voice of American MeFites being an urban or suburban one.

Most states, even today, have rural areas in which people work with livestock, and most have rural fairs of some kind, and since I go to a ton of those kinds of events I've noticed that even in non-Western regions, rural dress is pretty much "cowboy" dress - because it is just designed very well for working in muddy, rough environments with lots of things that can poke and scratch you or step on you.

The high boots with high heels keep your feet from getting soaked, let you grip stirrups, and prevent snake bites reaching your skin. The jeans can take a ton of wear, protect the skin well, and fit comfortably. The belt holds up the jeans and gives you a nice place to carry an embellishment like a metalwork buckle or a prize buckle. The shirt is of durable fabric - it can be plain and utilitarian but in history, and also in more dressy occasions, it's really colorful so you can express some flair, sometimes even having an eye-catching fringe or applique work or embroidery - all if you're in competition, the appearance of the rider matters. The neckerchief or bandanna gives you a handy rag to mop dust and sweat out of your eyes, or to dampen in water and wipe down or wring out over your neck, or to pull up over your nose and mouth if it gets really dusty or you're working around smoke. The broad-brimmed hat stays put really well with the tight inner band, and keeps sun as well as rain or snow out of the eyes.

It's certainly not always full regalia like the stereotyped cowboy wears, and in today's world there's enough homogenization that you also see lots of logo t-shirts, hoodies, biker wear, and generic big-box-store and mall clothing everywhere. But I'm always struck when I'm sitting in New Jersey, or Michigan, or NH, at an agricultural fair and seeing how cowboy people look as compared to how people in cities dress for recreation and work. It's everywhere.
posted by Miko at 6:03 AM on March 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Is it because it was only used in particular states the rest of you guys have trouble identifying with?

I suspect part of it is that its considered a little ... inappropriate ... to put on cowboy gear if one is not actually a real cowboy or farmer. You see political types getting mocked for this on a fairly regular basis. "Cowboy hat and shiny shoes" etc.
posted by anastasiav at 7:44 AM on March 12, 2010


I'm a Westerner by birth, and cowboy gear is what I came here to suggest. In addition to the multiple cultural/regional influences that Miko noted, there is also a significant paniolo (cowboy) history in Hawai'i that owes as much to the vaquero tradition as do California and Texas cowboy cultures.

Also, because the OP's profile notes that she is female, there are small but significant cultural markers for women in ranching gear, depending on the situation. In particular, the cattle ranching women of my family prefer lacer boots (also called paddock or roping boots) in most work situations. Pointy-toed tooled boots, or shinier smooth leather lacers, are for fancy.

And it's Wranglers if you're going to do it right, not Levi's.
posted by catlet at 8:49 AM on March 12, 2010


How about sockhop clothes from the 50's? Like in the movie Grease? Greaser motorcycle jackets and jeans. Girls in poodle skirts. rock n Roll. AMERICA!
posted by WeekendJen at 9:32 AM on March 12, 2010


1920s Flapper?
posted by wcfields at 11:26 AM on March 12, 2010


Actually, now that Miko mentions it, what about biker gear? It's distinctively American, even if it isn't the first thing people think of when they think of the US — and it's in more widespread use than the full-on cowboy getup, and less associated with any one particular part of the country.
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:06 PM on March 12, 2010


Maybe I'm interpreting the word "traditional" differently from everyone else, but I'd go with a suit, maybe an older variety. In some of those other cultures you mention, there were historically formal and informal versions of the traditional outfit, but today it is primarily worn on formal occasions. That doesn't quite ring true for the cowboy getup, to me, besides which, the cowboy thing is fairly regional. Suits are mostly formal today, are less region-specific, and older versions exist that have more of the 19th-century vibe that just "feels right" for such an event.

I'm not sure why some people say a clothing style has to be invented in the country in question to be the "traditional outfit." I think a lot of American traditional culture comes from England. Like, say, our language?
posted by Xezlec at 9:37 PM on March 12, 2010


In some of those other cultures you mention, there were historically formal and informal versions of the traditional outfit, but today it is primarily worn on formal occasions.

Sure, but that's true for Western wear too. And as noted above, in European nations, what became the 'national costume' usually had roots in a specific region, much as cowboy dress has roots in the West and Southwest but has come to be seen as "American" by outsiders.

And I think that it's not exactly "formal occasions" that it gets worn (like state dinners, fundraising galas or affluent weddings), but nationalistic pride displays, ceremonies, and rituals - places were a sort of parochially influenced, stylized element of national or regional color is desired.
posted by Miko at 9:04 AM on March 13, 2010


Now that I think about it, I've been all over these United States, and there has been a consistency with the jeans, boots, and hats - either baseball caps or cowboy hats. North, South, East, or West I've never looked around and *not* seen someone in jeans, boots and cap. Button down shirt or t-shirt varies.

Jeans can be worn even in formal situations, as long as one wears the correct accessories (a nice blouse, good shoes (boots even), a nice jacket, good jewelery, whatever. I think that at heart, we're a casual nation and not too stuck on ourselves, which is why women rock the jeans too. I don't see that consistency in any other form of clothing.

As for traditional women's clothing, I just can't say that American women have claimed anything as their own. Nothing that I can think of has remained consistent throughout the history of the US for women's wear. Though if I look back far enough, I can see women wearing jeans in the fields - not *respectable* women, but what can you say? I think that if I showed up in an international dinner with nice jeans, a blouse, boots, and a cowboy hat (I have one, you know) then I'd definitely state that I'm American.

I think a lot of American traditional culture comes from England. Like, say, our language?

And once we broke free from England, we did a lot of things to make our English as different from British English while keeping it the same language... like changing the spelling (colour/color -- realise/realize -- check/cheque).

I think we can safely say that U.S. culture is as different from British culture as our language is. The similarities are many, but the differences are definitely noticeable.
posted by patheral at 11:28 AM on March 13, 2010


I just can't say that American women have claimed anything as their own.

I agree with you that jeans at a state dinner would be inappropriate for women, but really for men, too. Female Americans were the first women to wear jeans and make them fashionable, starting in the 20s. So I think they count for women too!
posted by Miko at 6:20 AM on March 17, 2010


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