When we think of the cultural differences that an AFS participant faces on an AFS program, many things come into our minds. Discovering a new cuisine, learning a new language, and adjusting to new social norms are all experiences that an AFSer traveling abroad will encounter at some point. One of the features of a different culture that is equally important and difficult to adjust to, particularly for teenagers, is fashion.
In the Spring 1965 issue of Our World, a magazine produced by AFS Returnees and intended for AFS Participants and Returnees, we find a number of articles tackling the issue. The articles appear in a four-page spread on contemporary fashion in the United States, accompanied by photographs. The spread begins with “An Informal Guide for Girls” in which American AFSers express their views on fashion for girls, including that the average teenager has a wardrobe “more sensible than sophisticated” and “more casual or sporty than formal,” which often included shifts, jumpers, culottes, and A-line skirts. The two central pages of the spread describe the regional variations of the basic wardrobes for girls and boys, including that boys in the Midwest prefer sport shirts to include “classic ginghams,” while those in the Northwest prefer “madras in solids & plaids,” The spread concludes with a page dedicated to men’s fashion.
Although the Americans were offering fashion advice, they also begged the incoming AFS Participants to not become too “Americanized.” Specifically, they asked them to bring their local fashions to the United States, as “half the fun” for the host communities was “seeing what’s being worn in other parts of the world.”