What is German Style?

A new book defines German style...it's not an oxymoron!

Whenever I tell someone I write about fashion, their eyes light up. It’s a dream career for a lot of young women and though some people are skeptical, over the years we’ve seen that some of the smartest writing about fashion is done by women who are interested in both style and the world. That we can care about clothes and human rights and politics and that, really, all of those things are intertwined.


When I tell people, though, that I live in Germany, their eyes grow questioning. Germany? Style? Do the two go hand in hand? Is there such a thing as style in Germany?

After a while, that last joke got to be a bit tiring. After all, it’s not like we’re all running around in dirndl with twin Heidi braids over here.

Clearly I’m not the only one confronted with that question on the regular. Nina Zywietz and SIlke Wichert, two designers and stylists who’ve spent a lot of time abroad finally found answers to the question of what German style is and compiled both essays and photographs in their gorgeously ironic book: The Germans: Stil und Ikonen einer Nation.

Although it’s only available in German at the moment, the pictures are worth a thousand words and I put a few of my thoughts into English in a review over at Deutsche Welle. Basically, the message is: Germany has style, it’s just not exactly what we think of as high fashion. And the best part? When they interview foreign correspondents living in Germany on what they think of as fashion. Journalists from The Guardian, New York Times and Women’s Wear Daily have their own contributions. Did you know men in powerful positions love self-tanning creams and the bronzed look? And scarves are a must?

While the section on open-faced sandwiches and German shepherds feels out of place in a book about style, the writers make a case for including them over, say, lederhosen. And of course, there’s a section devoted to our favorite supermodels and fashion designers. Because German fashion would never be the same once Karl and Claudia entered the scene. Have a look at my review and see some of the unusual pictures adorning the book over at Deutsche Welle. And let us know: when you think of German fashion, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

It may sound cliche to say socks and sandals but did you ever consider the impact of Kraftwerk? Or the influence on style that 80s rock bands like The Scorpions would continue to have thirty years after the wall came down? Embarrassing but true: the mullet is still on fleek over here... Personally I prefer more modern designers like Kaviar Gauche and Ayzit Bostan but this book is more a reflection of how we got to where we are when it comes to German style. And for that, it's a great resource!

- Courtney Tenz