Friday, March 14, 2014

Fashionera - São Paulo

Which one is a maid? Photo credit:

Every morning when I come back from taking the kids to school, I see the same three women on their way to work. Each works in a house further down this street--later in the day I will see them sweeping the front walks or taking a dog for a walk. Every morning they arrive around 8 am, and every afternoon, I see them walk by at around 4:30 or 5 pm.

What is interesting to me is how they dress on their way to and from work. They are dressed very nicely, wearing heels or nice flats, a skirt, a blouse, shouldering a large handbag. Their hair is down and they wear jewelry and make-up. Later in the day I will see them in t-shirts and leggings or pants sweeping or cleaning. The t-shirts and casual clothes are their work uniforms. And every day before going home, they change back to nice clothing.

It is amazing to me how you cannot tell what someone does here by what they wear on the bus or walking to work. In the US, you can immediately tell a workman by his Timberlands, paint-spattered jeans (usually low-riding, providing unnecessary views of the grundies...or worse...) and thread-bare dirty shirts. In Boston in December, I rode the red line T with two young men with atrocious Boston accents (sorry, but my view) with dirt-smeared jeans and beaten-up Timberlands with untied laces. I cannot tell you the olfactory experience that accompanied them.

This would never happen here. When workmen go out on the streets after work (not at lunchtime, tis true, then they go in their work clothes) to catch their bus or train, they are dressed in nice (usually ironed) jeans, a button down short-sleeve shirt and sneakers or shoes. They either carry their work clothes in a backpack slung over their shoulders or they leave them at the house where they are working. There is almost always a service area in houses and apartments that includes a small "maid's room" for changing. And they have cleaned up--doing a "banho de gato" or "cat's bath" at the service sink.

The title of this blog--"Fashionera"--comes from a posting on the gringas site here yesterday. A "faixineira" (pronounced "fy-shon-air-a") is a daily cleaning woman, and one of the ex-pats here was wondering how much to pay her. The misspelling is close to the truth. These women (and men) hit the streets looking good.

1 comment:

  1. That's fascinating! My dad was a workman all through my childhood (still is), and of course he came home every day covered in all sorts of substances and black boots that were brown from dirt and mud- and in the summer, sunburned and drenched with sweat- so you can imagine how great he smelled. He always changed and showered when he got home, of course, but the idea of him putting on a button down shirt to drive home is making me crack up just thinking about it!