I have never been "good at fashion". I come from the very northern part of Minnesota, from a very poor family and nobody taught me. I had clothes of course. (You know, "BOXES of Esprit clothes under the steps".) And my mom always dressed us pretty cute when we were little. But like, fashion. It's never been my strong point.
I'm also not very "good at packing". So you can imagine how my outfits come together when traveling. In fact, they don't. When I left for my first extended travel trip, what I shoved in my backpack ended up being essentially what didn't sell at my garage sale. So it was a mish mosh of items that made no sense. Tops that didn't go with any bottoms. Three pairs of jeans, but traveling exclusively in tropical climates. That kind of thing.
I ended up wearing things like this in public: (I guess you never know when you'll need to start running.)
A few weeks after the above photo was taken I arrived to Singapore, where it was incredibly hot and sweaty. I went shopping at a store in Little India and ended up buying several new shirts and dresses. "Burn this," I told the shopkeep, throwing my yellowed-armpit white t-shirt at him as I strutted out of his store, head held high. I loved everything! I was amazed that just $100 could make me feel so good about myself. I met up with Summer a few days later in Thailand and she made so much fun of everything I bought. When I looked at my new clothes through her eyes, I was humiliated. It was true that I purchased everything because I thought their fabrics looked 'cool' ('cool' as in 'less sweaty'), and didn't really realize that everything was pretty ugly. See exhibits B and C:
To prepare for my current trip and determined not to make the same mistakes, I enlisted the help of a friend who manages a J. Crew to help me pick out some stuff so I wouldnt look so dorky. And I think she did a great job. For the most part in Europe, I felt OK. Cute, even.
When I left for hot, hot India, I sent all my cute cold-weather clothes home with my cousin Ross, but then it got cold and I regretted the decision almost immediately. I only had one pair of pants and two sweaters and ended up wearing them for three weeks in northern India and Nepal:
I resolved to spend my first day in Japan to buy at least one cute outfit. I picked up some really cute checkered pants. I saw an orange down coat that looked very attractive to me at the time because I was so cold. I couldn't tell if I liked it or hated it, but I put it on and it was so warm. I left the store and decided I hated it. It was cute, but wasn't the coat of a 35-year-old woman, and certainly not the coat I wanted to leave Japan with.
I walked around Tokyo feeling embarrassed, but toasty warm. And then this happened:
I give up.