As it nears the time to go home, I am again facing the usual dilemma. What do I wear on a plane that I will board in the middle of summer and disembark 24 hours later in the middle of winter? More importantly should I wear my American clothes or my international clothes?
I have multiple fashion personalities. My American personality wears bright colored t-shirts (that’s colored without the “u”) and sweatpants, short shorts and hoodies, moccasins (which are now appearing in South African stores, I’ll have you know) and plaid. My American personality can go to McDonalds in pajama pants and considers jeans appropriate attire for church. My American personality frequently wears orange and blue t-shirts (from my University) with pride and thinks that flip flops go with pretty much anything short of an evening gown. Meanwhile, my international personality is generally more conservative and devoid of color, mostly greys and blacks with skirts and lots and lots of scarves.
My current wardrobe is sort of a compromise between the two, mostly grey and black with a few hot pink t-shirts and of course my mocassins mixed in. I’ve kind of gotten to like the simplicity of this wardrobe. It doesn’t change much with the fashion trends which just makes things easier, especially since I’ve had my fair share of wardrobe malfunctions. Like the time I tried to rush the field after a football game in a mini-skirt. Not a good idea. Let’s just say ESPN saw a little more than they bargained for. Or the time I was running to catch the train on a crowded platform in Cairo and slipped on the stairs, sliding all the way to the bottom on my rear and ending up at the foot of the steps with my skirt around my neck in front of a crowd of stunned Muslims in their hijabs and burkas. Or the time I was teaching a dreadfully over-crowded class of Sudanese kids who were sitting on the desks and the floor and were pressed all around me. While I had my back to the class to write something on the board, one of the kids fell and caught my skirt on the way down. Well, you know the rest of the story…
Nevertheless, this multiple fashion personalities disorder makes travel complicated because Americans always opt for comfort over fashion when it comes to traveling while the rest of the world flies dressed to the nines. The last time I travelled I opted for my international dress which worked well in Johannesburg when the woman in line beside me was sporting her leather knee-high boots, white scarf, and Louis Vuitton purse, but left me feeling very odd in the London terminal filled with Americans in their flip-flops and sweats, and after we landed in DC prompted Mom to ask me outright, “What are you wearing?!” Now throw the whole summer to winter thing in there and I’ve got a real problem!
So that’s my dilemma. Do you have multiple fashion personalities? What do you wear when you travel overseas?