Clothing in Bulgaria is a funny thing. Something really rather special. For women, there are two main styles of dressing: village style (Crocs, sweats or skirt, jumper, maybe a headscarf) or Russian Footballer’s Wife. The former is simple and makes perfect sense. I certainly won’t be wearing my nicest togs to milk the goat or dig potatoes. It is the latter, the Russian Footballer’s Wife effect that fascinates me.
Mostly found in the big cities, it is the style favoured by any Bulgarian woman worth her shopska. The rules are simple – make it big, make it flashy, make it shiny and, where possible, make it pointy. A typical look would be big hair, ample makeup, clothes which are super-slim fitting, shiny (or with shiny bits on), preferably a few chains or studs, and pointy, very high heels. These are not cheap clothes, nor do they signify a cheap woman. Quite the contrary. We find clothes are expensive here.
On an unseasonably cold day I have to make an emergency clothing purchase – gloves (simple enough) and a fleecy warm top. To be fair, I purchase these from a market stall, not a fine boutique. But I am unimpressed by the choice. There is nothing plain. There is nothing simply. Frankly, to my boring English eyes, there is nothing remotely stylish. Still, when in Rome I think. Or Yablanitsa as is the case. I settle on a bright yellow zip-up top. Fleece lined and with a fur lined hood. Excellent. Yes, the inside is excellent. The outside, however, has been…embellished.
The hood says ‘BORDER’ in big, black, stitched-on capital letters. The left breast has a black and gold PVC motif stitched on with the words ‘Perfect replet wold’ around it. This is utter nonsense. But the pattern is something else, something very special indeed. It is plastered all over with pictures of various modes of transport. It has cars, bikes, skateboards, even prams and, curiously, shopping trolleys (see picture). I feel very ‘street’ in it. Much to Rob’s horror, I consider purchasing a pair of white PVC sneakers from a neighbouring stall but refrain at the last minute.
|I actually wore this out in public.|
The cost of this yellow beast? 20 Lev, which is about £10. £10 too much I say. But it is warm and it becomes something of a mascot for our trip. Naturally I will never wear it back home. It will always be a ‘Bulgaria’ top. Nonetheless, I have developed a strange affection for it. Perhaps more items will follow? Rob hopes not.
For now the plan is a twice-yearly pilgrimage to Primark!