I’ve been legitimately thinking of purchasing a mesh black turtleneck for work. Yes, you read that correctly. The kind of garment that, before living in Ukraine, I didn’t even know existed. They don’t make much sense in terms of function. What’s the point of having a turtleneck that provides no warmth? It’s one oxymoron of a garment, but I still find myself thinking my teaching outfit—and my life—is incomplete without it.
There are some ladies here in Ukraine that truly embrace the world of mesh. It’s completely acceptable at any age or body type to wear it. In some ways it’s great, not because I necessarily want to see them in mesh, but for them to be so accepting of their body and not be afraid to flaunt it. Mesh fashion varies with the season, but in the school setting during winter, most female teachers wear a long sleeved mesh shirt under a sweater or dress. So I’m guessing it provides some type of warmth? Maybe?
I recently acquired a navy blue turtleneck sweater dress from another Peace Corps Volunteer. It’s really warm and teacher-like but regrettably lacks sleeves. Ann Taylor Loft clearly wasn’t thinking about potential dress owners teaching in the poorly heated schools of Ukraine. So I glance at my fellow teachers and their long mesh sleeves and I want them—their sleeves, just to be clear.
Maybe I’ve been in Ukraine far too long; I’m starting to find mesh fashionable, I don’t think twice about wearing one outfit for the entire week, and I’m now incapable of leaving the house without polishing my shoes. There have been times when a Ukrainian confuses me for a Ukrainian, which is surprising with my very real lack of shoes with heels. I’ve been stopped on numerous occasions in my village for directions; though I’m usually not much help since there are no street signs here and I can really only identify two streets. Other times people ask me random questions about buses or when Orthodox Easter is next year, like they did today at the post-office.
I have no idea why I’m sometimes confused for a Ukrainian, especially since I don’t even own anything mesh! Maybe it’s my Polish heritage (the reason Ukrainians gleefully exclaim ‘You’re one of us!’), my freshly polished shoes, or my inner desire to own something meshy that clues them in. I think it’s probably the last one.
So here’s to hoping I leave Ukraine before I start thinking of a mullet for my next haircut.