Update: So in my tired state yesterday I completely forgot to mention purses! Much like every woman in British Columbia seems to own a Coach purse, every woman here owns a Longchamp purse. Big, small, neutral or colourful these were on the arm of nearly EVERY woman I passed. Only a very particular version of the Longchamp bag though, which is the canvas (?) style with chocolatey brown leather straps. While the bags are fairly cute and functional they aren't an item I felt particularly drawn to. In fact, Longchamp makes a lot of other much nicer purses, so I can't quite grasp this style's popularity. But to each their own.
So at long last I can give you what I know you've been waiting for: the down-low on European style. I will say that I haven't been here too long though (obviously) so all I can offer at the moment are my immediate impressions and observances.
Since today is Saturday I decided I'd use the extra time to get some shopping done in the downtown tourist area. Ordinarily this wouldn't be an all-day trip but because I'm a huge coward I didn't feel up to using the transit system just yet.... so I walked (it's about 4km each way). On the way there this just meant a pretty long trip, but after several hours of wandering through stores I managed to forget my way home and got completely lost. My favourite part was when a crazy looking lady wearing a multi-coloured poncho and accompanied by a dog started lurking in my peripheral vision. At this point I was carrying several shopping bags and frowning into my copy of Lonely Planet's Guide to Germany so I looked very much like a vulnerable tourist. So, since I was already lost anyway, I just started walking in circles until she wandered off somewhere else. While it's perfectly possible that I'm just paranoid and she was just a harmless pedestrian I figured I'd rather not find out the hard way. Anyway, thank god Hamburg is so flat, because I was able to spot a familiar skyscraper and from there figure out how to get back to my apartment.
But that's really not the point. The point is that I finally got a taste of the main shopping district and had a good look at what everyone was wearing and selling. The first thing I've noticed about German style is every woman seems to own a military-style jacket. Not the trench or Imperial styles, but rather the World War II style army green kind. I would say about 65-75% of the women I passed today were wearing some interpretation of this trend. So, of course, I bought one. The other ubiquitous item I noticed were Oxford flats. Much like military jackets these were everywhere, and while I didn't get any today (my feet were swollen so there was really no point) I have every intention of getting some later.
Another popular item here are trousers. In particular a specific kind of trousers, which I believe are sometimes referred to as "Jodhpurs". These are slightly baggier at the top and taper down at the ankle. While it's a style that no doubt would look awful on me, both men and women alike are sporting this look here in Hamburg. So far that's what I've primarily noticed, though one woman at work has a really interesting way of pairing neons with dramatic black and white patterns: more on that later.
During my adventures I also picked up an ivory lace dress, which is a trend the world round this season. Also some black jeans, because work is actually unbelievably casual and they're a useful item to have anyway.
And so this brings me to the last of my purchases: books! I really needed some entertainment at home besides German TV and the internet, so I went and found the most ridiculous romance novels I could find (set in Europe of course). I figure maybe if I spend enough time reading about fictitious dates then maybe I'll manage to get myself a real one. Though with this whole culture difference right now that feels rather improbable. Who knew?