Latvians are the best-dressed people in the world. Ask any Latvian.
And if ‘best-dressed’ means donning as much fur, gold lamé, leopard print and jewellery as humanly possible then they might be right. It’s the only country in the world where you can feel under-dressed in your local supermarket, where it’s not unusual to see women in what would commonly be considered cocktail dresses teetering around the aisles at 11am on a Tuesday morning.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m certainly not claiming that the Irish are the most fashion forward people in the world. I can imagine the first Latvians’ shock upon moving to Ireland and making their shopping début in what is supposedly a ‘rich’ country. Dressed in their finery so as not to stand out as a foreigner, they must have been a little surprised to find themselves surrounded by middle-aged harridans in their pyjamas and slippers.
This Latvian tendency to overdress can make shopping for ‘normal’ clothes here tricky. For instance, not long after I moved here, I wanted to buy a plain black hoodie for slobbing about my flat. After rifling through enough glitter, sparkles and sequins to make Dolly Parton wince, I finally found one. I pulled it out and tried it on. It fit. Then, on impulse, I decided to pull up the hood. It had ears. Ears. Maybe you can think of a reason why any grown woman in her right mind would want to wear a hoodie with ears on it. I couldn’t.
Unfortunately for me, I also failed to think of a reason why my Latvian friend shouldn’t do my make-up. We’d agreed to meet at my place to start the evening with a bottle of wine before hitting the town. As far as I was concerned, I was good to go. After much tut-tutting and comments about how Irish girls didn’t know how to put on eye make-up, I finally agreed to let her ‘fix’ it. She proceeded to attack eye number one with all the brushes, sponges and colours I had in my possession.
Meanwhile, I flailed around trying to reach my glass in a vain attempt to slug away the indignity of it all. With one eye weeping in protest and half-closed under the weight of eye shadow, I staggered off to the bathroom to check the results. I cheerfully declared myself very happy with that eye but told her that that was enough – the fact that I looked like a tearful, lop-sided drag queen would be an interesting ice-breaker in the pub. But there was no stopping her at this stage. She pinned me to the sofa by my neck and set upon the other eye. By the time she’d finished, I had tears streaming down my cheeks and really didn’t want to go out any more.
Lesson learned. I now meet her in the safety of a bar, where she can tut all she likes but can’t inflict any real damage. Except, of course, to my ego – but luckily, that’s far less sensitive than my eyes.