I'm leaving for Europe in a few weeks and I find myself bouncing between my personalities. One is the free-spirited traveller, who I rarely get a chance to listen to due to infrequent vacations. And the other is my newly acquired, since my last big trip, stylish self. They're getting a little cranky with each other.
The first big trip I went on was 7 years ago, when I travelled through Europe for two months. I'd been going to a hippie college for a couple of years prior and my wardrobe consisted of long skirts, oversized t-shirts, Birkenstocks, and a pair of particularly nicely worn Doc Martens. I wore my hair in ponytails and braids and my makeup consisted of sunscreen. The cutest thing I wore the whole trip was my 40's style blue and white polkadotted bathing suit.
Times have changed. I don't think I own a single long flowered skirt. I wouldn't dream of wearing oversized t-shirts and looking like I have no shape. The Docs fell apart years ago. I wear stylish clothes, I wear different jewelry every day, I have an extensive shoe collection. I wear my hair down most of the time and I always, everyday, wear lipstick. How will this translate to travelling?
I'm travelling on this trip the same way I did on the last, by train and foot with a backpack carrying all my belongings. I have the same restrictions of space and weight. I know I need to bring the fewest clothes I think I can get away with as well as no more that two pairs of shoes (!) and minimal jewelry--I don't want it to get stolen. I know I need to think about the places I'm going and not the way I look. It's surprisingly difficult.
I went to Ross the other day, looking for travelling clothes. I was picking out capris and skirts that I thought would be comfortable and easy to wash in sinks. Then I started to look at shirts, thinking what would be cute, putting together outfits in my head. I had to stop myself. I'm not going to a fashion show. I have plenty of t-shirts (correctly sized) that I can wear in Spain. I don't need to waste money on new clothing to impress a nation of people I don't know, who won't realize that I have a new outfit on. I need to concentrate on impressing them with my bold attempts to speak their language and my free-spirited travelling alone.
I bought my backpack the a week or so ago, and though I really tried to buy a bright yellow backpack, I ended up with a signature red and black one. It really wasn't about the color...I swear...
I know ultimately I will do the sensible thing. I will take a skirt, a couple of pairs of capris, a few shirts. I will take a pair of sandals and a pair of sneakers probably. I will wear my hair in braids, most likely, and I will leave my favorite jewelry at home.
I've said in the past that style isn't what clothes you wear, it's how you wear your clothes. I will be travelling by train and bus, dirty and sweaty, wearing clothes washed in sinks over the weeks. But I will feel strong and beautiful as I explore strange countries on my own. I will feel stylish in my personal style as I choose to wear it. I will feel well-adorned with my sunkissed face and my eager, awed eyes.
There's a good chance I will still wear lipstick.Posted by Alyssa at August 15, 2002 11:10 PM