My husband and I are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary at the end of the month, and spent more than half of our married life gallivanting around the world for his job. On my walk this morning, I realized that even though we have been in the same house for 10 years now (I really feel the need to move!), we have shared 7 different homes since we wed. That is a lot of moving, and it taught me a lot, even some things about style and fashion! So here are 5 style lessons moving has taught me…
Style is Regional
People used to ask if I was stocking up on clothing before we moved so that I wouldn’t have to go shopping, especially overseas. While I would stock up on things I thought might be challenging to find (new bras, or narrow shoes), I preferred a wait and see take on style. Style is incredibly regional, even with social media and mass market retailers. I also do not like to stand out like a sore thumb/stereotypical American tourist, so I spend quite a bit of time people-watching in our new home to see what looked natural. This holds true even here in the US. What looks completely in line in New York City can look a bit harsh here in Augusta, Georgia.
Two of my priorities after finding a place to live were finding a good hairdresser and dry cleaner. This is a quality of life issue, so I would ask anyone with a good looking cut where they had their hair done, especially if their hair texture was similar to mine. Any recommendation whose name came up repeatedly would be my first choice to try. I would also accost anyone particularly well dressed to ask what dry cleaner they trusted. It can be awkward to put yourself out there to ask, but I never had anyone refuse to answer. If you explain that you have just moved, and that finding these professionals can be a challenge, most people will respond positively.
Planning Is Essential
This may sound in conflict with the style is regional piece, but this focuses on preparation. Before you pack out your home to move overseas, you need to think through 3 lists: (1) The Things You Will Carry With You, (2) Stuff for Your Express Shipment (You will see it in a few weeks and need to be able to live with it until (3), and (3) The Slow Boat Shipment (you will see it in 3-4 months). On one of our overseas moves, the children and I were staying with my mother for 4 months while my husband was in a class across the county. That meant packing everything we needed for summer in the South, summer and fall in the Mid-Atlantic, and Winter in England. Well thought-through planning made the whole adventure far less stressful than it might have been, an continues to make travel a dawdle, rather than a stress. Pack for a two week trip in a carry-on. Give me half an hour. Let’s go!
If you saw us load up that station wagon to travel to my mother’s house for that 4 months, you wouldn’t have thought we were travelling light! I think it probably qualified as a miracle that we got 4 people’s clothing, all our homeschool materials (I forgot to throw that wrench into the works!) and some toys for the boys into the back of our Subie Wagon. If we’d tied a rocking chair to the roof, we’d have looked like the Clampett family. (Buy me a drink sometime and I’ll tell you about the engine overheating on that trip from Georgia to North Carolina.) When it came time to fly overseas, we each had one large suitcase, and our carryon/backpack. (We shipped the school books.) That large suitcase had to hold everything we would need for the next 3-4 months. To this day, I prefer to travel light. I rarely check baggage, even for a trip of a week or more, I’d rather wash in the sink than have to haul around a lot of luggage. If you forget something and it’s really important, you can probably find something similar where you are headed, and you’ll have a souvenir of your trip.
Go With the Flow
I may be a planner, but I have learned not to assume the plan will go as planned! It’s great to have a Plan, and even a Plan B, or Plan C, but sometimes you just have to throw it all to the wind and go with what’s right in front of you. When we lived in England, we took a Christmas holiday in London. We rented a flat, brought our tree and presents, and spent a fabulous week. It even had the courtesy to snow as we walked to Mass on Christmas Eve! One of the trip highlights was an afternoon Christmas dinner at the Savoy. Our children still fondly remember that experience 12 years later. The booking had been planned months in advance. My outfit, on the other hand for that special day was completely go-with-the-flow. I would have frozen in the dress I had brought for our special dinner, so I threw on an ankle length black-on-black plaid kilt (the one I wore to walk to Mass in) and some sweater I found in my bag. My Hero accessory was the shoulder grazing chandelier earrings that my sons (aged 16, 12 & 11) had given me that morning. (They were carefully chosen for me at Accessorize by three boys with their own meagre funds. I still have those earrings, and wore them on a Christmas holiday date with my grandson last year!) Even our waiter commented on the “unique” earrings I had on that evening… The boys were chuffed, and it was all good! It still is.
What style lessons have you learned from strange places? Please share in the comments below! I’d love to hear your stories…