Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pretty vs. Practical

When one has the opportunity to live in another culture, it is to be expected that it won't take long to notice all the subtle and the not so subtle differences. It certainly didn't take me five years to figure out that Germans, in general, are very practical. (if you are not included in this generally blanketed statement, please take no offense, as none was intended) This does not mean that Germans do not enjoy beautiful things, quite the contrary. Usually if something is only "pretty" without also being "practical", then it's a sure fire way for a German to overlook it. I do not find such a cultural characteristic to be a negative one, but just a different one.

For example: On some visit to the States a while back, I had to explain to my husband why most American's have a "two-shower-curtain-in-one" system. In case you're not familiar, often this is with one fabric outside curtain (aka "pretty"), and one plastic inside curtain (aka "practical")... the best of both worlds, if you will. It actually developed into qu
ite a lengthy conversation of explaining why two are better than one. My husband just could not understand the concept that while the fabric shower curtain in itself holds no practical uses, the plain plastic single curtain just is not desired because it is not attractive.

I find that for many Americans, decisions to purchase things can often be based on, "I bought it because it was pretty... no other reason." But I guess as they say, "when in Rome, do as the Romans do" thinking has influenced a few of my sewing projects these days. Just a little preview for now... more to come later (with additional stories... see, I told you I just couldn't stay away from these fabrics.)

So... it leaves me with just one question for you... when it comes to "pretty vs. practical" which one do you go for?


  1. So funny, I have seen shower curtain tutorials here and there and wondered how can they use a fabric shower curtains in USA. Now I know :)

  2. I had one of these shower curtains years ago! As we just bought a new kitchen this exact question came up, of course. And I found out that I always try hard to combine both sides as best as I can - much to the salesman’s amusement. This makes decisions not very easy but I like the result so much more than when I just look for one of the sides! Some things I buy are just "nice" though! Have a nice, sunny day!

  3. Great analysis! I never thought about this but it makes absolutely sense to me.
    I used to be on the practical side (typical german I guess) but then started reading blogs (usually american) and making things myself and now I try to combine both. If it is just pretty I will never use it and I just don't have any space for it (which I guess is also a German thing, typically Americans tend to have much more space) but I also don't want to look at ugly things!

  4. I go for practical...I'm turning German, lol! =P

  5. wow - you are right! germans have a very practical thinking. i just kind of knew it but couldn't really put it in words what's typical german. you did it!
    and without any surprise: for my own sewing project i always think about the practical part of the selfmade objects. only sewing to get pretty things? to have hundreds of little purses and bags? no way. ;)
    no use - no sewing. well, expect for cushions... :))


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