Just wait and see, and then I did not

A funny little thing as I grow older, is that my concept of time feels somewhat warped. Either things are going really slow or really fast, there seems to be no inbetween anymore. I either feel like I am 11 or 88. Becoming 30 is weird.

Of course when you are not 30, right up until you are 29 or so, it feels very far away. And most people around me liked to sum up all the things I for sure would do, change or become before or once I hit that milestone. It is now becoming 50, but that is way too far ahead for now. So I thought it would be a good moment to take stock and see if these predictions were actually true or not.

  1. Having a lot of stuff: not true

    Up ’till I moved to China 5 years ago, I loved having stuff. Almost half of it was with my parents, because I did not feel like moving it around all the time, and the other half I mostly used. I also tended to buy quite some physical things still, mainly books. Which are great to read, but also pretty heavy to carry. Then I moved 4 times in the last 5 years, and my view changed. I started to question this whole idea of wanting or needing to have stuff, and managed to cut down on a lot of it. Being back in the Netherlands, having almost everything in 1 spot now and knowing what I have is very satisfying. I thought things would just pile up as I got older, but it turned out to be a choice, not a natural course of life.

  2. Not fitting in my clothes anymore: (mostly) not true

    I used to consume a lot of food, and I still do, especially compared to most Dutch people. When I was younger, I combined this with a fast metabolism, half-hearted attempts at sports and generally convincing myself I was okay with not being very thin. Fast forward to 2019 and I started doing aerial silks fanatically. Not only is it the first sport in years that I actually enjoy, but it is also a pretty good way to ensure I am not going to grow out of my clothes anytime soon. Only perhaps in shoulder width, but my belly is flatter than it was 5 years ago. Also, now owning multiple pairs of yoga pants will also help me fitting in my clothes for the next 10 years.

  3. Getting children: not true

    I have never really liked children and it is largely mutual. I try to look menacing to any kid that comes within 1.5 meters reach. When I was still young, around 12 or something, my mom once joked that there could be babies falling from the skies. I told her mortified that I would never go out again if that happened. Many people told me I would change my mind once I got older. I have not yet and I do not think it will happen. Especially now I have the age where more people around me get babies and I see more of them. Babies are not cute, they cannot do anything themselves and they cannot communicate anything clearly. I would much rather have a cat in that case. Which I coincidentally do.

  4. Stop crying: not true

    How I wish this one would be true. I do not bruise easily, but I cry really easily. I think for the longest time I held out hopes that I would grow out of it and when I was younger I had the perception that adults never or only rarely cried. Perhaps it would only happen around the times that my hormones were whack and I could blame my period. Alas, it did not work and it is probably the reason I drink 6 liters of tea every day. I need to keep myself hydrated so I am ready whenever I need to be.

  5. Reading the paper daily: true

    With one of my best friends I have the running jokes that everything I know or hear about I get from the newspaper. It is true about 90% of the time. I used to be very ignorant about the news and everything happening in the world, probably like more teenagers, but it all changed in my second year of university. I took some journalism courses and learned to understand the importance of knowing what is happening around you. Further than your parents’ backyard. I now think time spent reading the news is time well-spent. I will become one of those elderly people who will complain about all the bad things happening and how it was better in my days. I am earnestly practicing for it.

Winkel je weg

De zomer is net begonnen, dus natuurlijk is de zomermode alweer in de uitverkoop! Hoewel ik ondertussen genoeg horrorverhalen over kleren en de kledingindustrie heb gelezen en gezien, is een ‘sale’ bordje toch vrij onweerstaanbaar. Bovendien breekt me het zweet gelijk uit als ik zie wat voor truien en broeken in de winkels hangen met 35 graden buiten.

Maar kleding is allang niet meer iets dat men fysiek doet. Een tijdje geleden liep ik met een vriendin een winkelcentrum in. Bij het juwelierszaakje werd eerst druk onderhandeld over alle prijzen, die helaas toch erg vast bleken te staan. Terwijl allerlei sieraden gerangschikt werden naar geschiktheid, nam mijn vriendin ook stiekem wat foto’s van de producten. Meekijkend over haar schouder zag ik dat gelijk een vergelijking werd gemaakt met andere oorbellen die online verkrijgbaar waren en er ongeveer hetzelfde uitzagen. Niet genoeg echter, dus er werd alsnog in persoon een slag geslagen.

Nu heb ik zelf een vrij grote afkeer van online kleren kopen. Nadat ik een jaar of 5 geleden in een onbestemd moment iets van 5 kledingstukken bij H&M online bestelde en ze na aankomst allemaal niet bleken te passen, had ik gelijk mijn buik vol van online kleren kopen. Bovendien heb ik de goede gewoonte lang te twijfelen over kledingstukken, liefst meerdere malen per dag (of indien mogelijk per week) binnen te gaan en dan nogmaals 20 minuten diep na te denken alvorens het toch niet te kopen.

Hoewel in China alles online verkrijgbaar is, maakt dit de verleiding niet groter. Uiteraard zijn er ook plekken waar de grote merken hun kleding verkopen, maar het komt nog steeds inefficiënt op mij over om eerst iets te bestellen, dan het te passen en vervolgens mogelijk weer terug te sturen. Daar komt uiteraard bij dat voor de echte bodemprijzen, er een extra, onvermijdelijk verrassingselement bij komt kijken. Want hoe je truitje, rokje of jurkje er echt uitziet, weet je pas als het uit de verpakking komt.

Dus het hangt er uiteindelijk maar net vanaf waar jij winkelplezier aan beleeft. Koop je liever de kleding die je ziet en goed past in de winkel, of bestel je liever een verrassingspakket wat na een thuismodeshow waarschijnlijk grotendeels teruggaat? Of als je op zoek bent naar een bepaalde stijl, dan kun je hier wat inspiratie opdoen!

Good looks never go out of style

It is no surprise that both the Netherlands and China have very different opinions on what constitutes good clothing and nice style. You could almost say they are polar opposites, with the Chinese often adhering to more is more and the Dutch to less is more.

But that is of course not the complete picture. Let me paint a short overview of the female looks that can be seen in both countries on the streets:

Standard attire:

Denim Dutchies – The Dutch are not necessarily very pessimistic, but they do seem very blue. Denim, especially skinny jeans, are our informal national attire. It is amazing how there is a basic outfit that everyone wears, from teenager to women in their forties. Pick a random top (often in a subdued color), throw on a pair of skinny jeans and a pair of ankle boots and you are now dressed the same as 85 % of the Dutch female population.

Colorful Chinese – Not to be outdone, the Chinese often also have a basic outfit that everyone wears. It is basically called everything goes. Pair that t-shirt with bad English on a ripped pair of jeans, match it with lacquered shoes with pompons and a hat with ears. And it is funny that even though everyone is wearing very different combinations, it somehow looks similar because it is such an eccentric combination of clothes.

Relaxed attire:

Tricot tricks – Soft, stretchy and with every print imaginable. Tricot is something probably every Dutch woman has hanging in her house. Often with a funky print to give it that hip edge. Oftentimes tricot is very popular for wrap dresses, chique and comfy at the same time. Or so we like to believe.

Sleepwalking – Your pajamas. Or those house suits. Both are fine pieces of outerwear for your average Chinese. Whether you are going for grocery shopping, picking up your kids or going to the theater. Why would you trade in any of your comfort and not match your top and bottom?

Trendy attire:

Basically basic – Most Dutch are more interested in wearability and quality than following the latest trends. Sure, they might take a daring outing to fashionland once in a while and return with a tiger sweater or breathtakingly ugly sneakers. But hey, at least you can wear those and they are somewhat practical.

Impractically Instagram-ready – Korea and Japan dictate many of the fashion trends in China. This means that a lot is copied and a lot is combined differently than originally, since it is available so quickly. It also means that brands take much more risks when putting clothes in stores. I have seen sweaters accessorized with things that resemble cheerleader pompons. The Chinese understand that fashion and practicality are two different things.