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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » May 28, 2013
Interview
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Smartening Up
May 28, 2013   
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Polish fashion guru Krzysztof Łoszewski, whose new book, Smart Casual: Style for Men, has just been published, talks to Peter Konończuk.

In Poland, warm weather usually means men parading around in short trousers, sandals and graying socks. And sometimes carrying a little men’s handbag, Eastern European-style. Can we blame Polish women for complaining that their men dress badly and are plain unsexy?
Unsexy? No, they’ve got their own individual style and that’s what counts. I’m just kidding. But I do think their girlfriends like them dressed like that and their girlfriends accept it. It’s all a matter of what circles you move in. Girls who don’t like guys in shorts, sandals and socks, with handbags under their arms, will just ignore them and look for other men.

What about Polish women? Do they dress as well as they think they do?
They do their best to look nice and fashionable. Whether most of them succeed is a different story.

So what’s wrong with Polish girls? Most of those I talk to are convinced they’re better dressed and generally better looking than women in other countries, Britain for example.
It’s not for Polish women to say they’re prettier than whoever. On the other hand, my friends from Belgium, Sweden and France—men, of course—would be more than happy to move to Poland because Polish women are so good-looking!
There was a time when a Pole in London or Paris stuck out like a sore thumb. His dress instantly identified him as a foreigner. Do Poles still differ in terms of dress from men in Western Europe?
Those who stick out now are men from Turkey, India and Zaire. It’s true that the Poles who headed out of the country in the early 1990s to find a job abroad looked poor. But I think that today the differences are fading away.

So Polish men have finally caught up with the West in fashion terms?
Men from each country in Western Europe have different, individual approaches to fashion. Paris is different to Milan or Brussels. Young men in Warsaw are interested in fashion as well and they’re not doing that badly at it.

Who’s the best dressed man in Polish politics? Who’s the trendiest public figure?
In my dress code classes, I tell people that politicians should not be interested in fashion. They should know the rules of etiquette and should know what to wear in various situations at work. That’s the most important thing, more important than the latest trends.

Almost all Polish politicians wear trousers that are too long and jackets with sleeves that are too long. And their shirts and ties are too colorful.

How do you rate Janusz Palikot—surely a little too outré for a party leader?
Janusz Palikot likes to be a provocateur. His pink jackets, colorful shirts and ties— his nonchalant way with clothes you could say—are just another argument in the political debate. None of that has anything to do with his own style.

What about Transport Minister Sławomir Nowak? Sharp suits and not a hair out of place. Polish politicians don’t come much slicker.
His suits are well cut. He’s slim and they look good on him. He picks ties that match his shirts and the color of his suits.

What do you think of the shiny gray suit—beloved by Party functionaries in communist times and still favored by a certain class of Polish official?
The shiny gray suit only looks good on stage, I’m afraid. It doesn’t look good in the office. Instead of looking trustworthy, people who wear one look silly and, let’s not shy away from the word, provincial.

Picture a provincial farmer who steps off the train at Warsaw’s central rail station and bumps into a group of young, snappy dressers from the warszawka, the capital’s on-the-make in-crowd. He might well think he’s landed on an alien planet. Is Poland a country of huge contrasts in fashion terms?
A sensitive fashion designer can draw inspiration from clothes worn by farmers. Their style is sometimes more interesting than the “uniforms” of the so-called snappy dressers whose dress code is determined by peer pressure. The farmer has just taken a trip to Warsaw and when you’re traveling, you want to be comfortable.

What really matters are not the latest trends, but the individual style of every single one of us.

Krzysztof Łoszewski, from Warsaw, is a former designer for Belgian fashion chain Olivier Strelli. He now works as a style consultant and runs classes in dress etiquette for lawyers, senior bankers and future diplomats. His style guide Dress code. Tajemnice męskiej elegancji (Dress Code: The Secrets of Elegant Men) proved a bestseller in Poland. His latest book Smart casual. Męski styl (Smart Casual: Style for Men) was published in Polish by Bosz last month, priced zl.49.90.
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