Who. Where. Wear.

How Place Impacts our Style

When reading this GQ article, a remarkable blending of personal essay on major life changes with a profile of designer Hiroki Nakamura of Visvim, I was struck immediately by this reflection on how location and life circumstances influences our style:

How do you dress when the weather requires absolutely nothing of you? New York was the place I grew up, and what I wore there was a blandly literal expression of the person I grew into: prideful but mostly anonymous, quiet but, hopefully, tasteful. In Los Angeles, a city that prizes none of those qualities, half my wardrobe—dark blue sweaters, scuffed-up sneakers, clothes that could go from a rainy sidewalk to a neon-lit subway car to a stylish office and back, in the New York way—seemed effectively useless. The other half made me feel like I still lived in New York but was somehow trapped here, visiting. It was a sensation I began to know well: that dislocated feeling, like being on a permanent vacation from the world I knew to be real.
— http://www.gq.com/story/clown-pants-saved-my-life

As an immigrant, a woman who inhabits, sometimes successfully, most times rather confusedly, two worlds, this spoke to me. When I first arrived in Germany, I found myself struggling to make sense of fashion here, to choose my wardrobe wisely so that I might better fit in more quickly. But I wasn't quite ready to toss my flouncy skirts aside for an A-line pinstripe skirt with matching two-button blazer. Nor was I interested in adopting black as my own personal dress code. Once I did start adopting the fashion trends I'd seen on the streets here – scarves, anyone?--I would fly back to the US and be immediately overrun with questions about where I'd come from. “You don't look like you're from around here,” people would say and I would find myself heading to J.Crew and Banana Republic to stock up on khakis and cardigans.

What I hadn't considered was how this polarity might've been impacting me emotionally, as Zach Baron talks about happening to him. As he writes, the designer Hiroki understands this well:

“The way who you are seems to interact in some deeper way with what you wear, how one influences the other. He’d built an entire life around that idea.

“Sometimes you’re thinking too much,” he said. “Like, ‘Is it okay? This is maybe too much.’ ” But there’s something about that feeling—the one that says Wow—that is worth following, he said. “You build up stuff in your head. When you were little, you just followed your heart all the time.”

So what does my heart say? It's been almost a decade and I'm still not sure. I love the elegance of a scarf thrown around my neck, European style, and the American casual style of black leggings and a hoody. I guess maybe, if I had to define my style – and my emotions – that's what I'd have to say: a mixture of both is what defines me best, keeps me most comfortable.

What about you? Have you noticed your style change based on where you live? (ct)


Socks and sandals are def German-inspired

Socks and sandals are def German-inspired