Our travels introduced us to many beautiful landscapes, intriguing cultures, questionable food and, well, really odd clothing. Here are the top five bizarre wearables we observed:
Iceland's climate is harsh - cold, windy and wet - so one must protect the entire face from freezing, including the beard and mustache. The beardcap does just that. Made from soft lambswood, it is a modern day "lambshed-hood" which was traditionally worn by Icelandic farmers walking long distances to their field sheds. Vík Prjónsdóttir produces these quirky caps which come in two styles - the Farmer and the Gentleman. Read more about our adventures in Iceland here.
On the small island of Taquile, in Lake Titicaca, Peru, the men wear belts made from their wives' hair. A young woman will use her shiny long hair to make a marriage belt which is a gift for her future husband. The bride mixes her hair with alpaca hair and the result is a black and white striped belt that her husband will wear every day for the rest of his life. The belt is sturdy and worn like a girdle so it supports his lower back. They say it helps the kidneys and prostate so in essence the bride is making a belt to protect the health of her future husband. Read more about Taquile, Peru here.
A common sight in China is a toddler missing a critical component of his wardrobe. They call these toilet training pants or split pants, and they feature a big opening in the crotch area (no diaper). The parent/grandparent will regularly fold the kid in half, bum towards the ground, and urge the baby to take care of business. You see it happening everywhere - on the sidewalk, in the park, over a garbage can at the train station, etc. We took extra care to avoid all puddles after seeing this! To read more about China, check out my China blog posts here.
The people pictured below are not Mexican luchadores or Marvel's latest superheroes. They are Chinese beachgoers wearing a form of extreme sun protection called the facekini. While the Icelandic beardcaps provide protection from the cold, the facekini provides protection from UV rays and jellyfish. In Asia, most people consider tanned skin to be less attractive than pale skin because a tan implies peasantry while pale skin implies you lead a pampered life. We often saw Asian tourists and locals cover up their skin and wear wide brim hats on sunny days. Drugstores advertised skin bleachers as opposed to self-tanners popular here in the US. Well, the facekini takes sun protection to a new level and has grown in popularity among the Chinese, particularly those from Quingdao. While I'm typically happy with sun-tan lotion, I could have used a facekini while snorkeling among Thailand's stinging sea bees!
Females of all ages in China were sporting headbands with animal ears. Typically they were cat ears but we saw lots of variations - bunnies, bears, mice, and my favorite... giraffes.
Eva has been traveling for 15+ years, including an 8 month journey around the world.