If you take a girl out of South Africa, is she the same girl in the UK, France or Spain? Yes, you can adapt to your environment and even thrive, but you’ll still be the same person. Which is why running away to the circus doesn’t work. What might change though is your fashion awareness, more-so your style.
You see, being a global citizen can give you a sense of freedom, one to choose to be whomever you want, wherever you go. You get to adapt to your new surroundings and mimic what is around you. If you’ve lived in more than two countries often this means you have gradually built an identity that is a collection of pieces, each of which you have handpicked choosing the best bits, in order to create a whole. This identity is your fashion statement, very transferable and very rootless. It’s the one thing we subconsciously pick and take with us on our life-long journey. It tells the subtle story of who we are, where we are from. It also provides a glimpse of where we have been and how we translate fashion in everyday life.
How do we really know that our travels influence our style?
I conducted an experiment on my friend Radda and myself below, to determine if we approach our fashion based on the environments and regions we’ve had exposure to. Radda is originally from Ukraine, spent most of her adult life in Germany and currently resides in Denver. She attributes the German culture to playing a big part in forming her style. I knew she would be the perfect person to do this experiment with, as we both have lived and been influenced by different cultures. The experiment was easy, we would essentially swap styles and utilize the following fashion pieces: skirt, black turtleneck and an individual interpretation of a black outfit to style each other, all from our own closets.
BLACK Never BLEAK
Our individual interpretation of black is heavily influenced by our exposure to our different regions. I styled Radda in a lot of African prints that complement the black, while she used blue as a tonal color to contrast the black. All the stylish European women have a rule of thumb — layering colorful accessories over their black outerwear creates a multidimensional look.
COLOR ME DIFFERENTLY
My travels have taken me to regions where I’ve embraced both color and texture. While growing up in Kenya and moving around Africa I’ve been exposed and surrounded by loud and colorful African prints. While in India, I was exposed to textures on top of the color influence from my homeland, which obviously influenced how I would style Radda. Her European style is clearly influenced by minimal, muted tones and her Ukraine roots are seen in the scarf she tied on my head.
European fashions are most easily recognized by their clean, simple lines. Their primary cuts of clothing from suits to dresses have a sleek geometric appearance. You can see this structure in how Radda styled me, while my exposure to loud colorful patterns with a mix of vintage is clear.
It would be easy to travel to a new destination and observe the style of its citizens, but it takes being fully immersed in the culture for extended periods in order to achieve this environmental influence in your style.
Fashion is the greatest tool to adapt with your surroundings and being rootless doesn’t mean you don’t belong to any one place; it just means you choose to belong to many, allowing for fashion freedom within your personal style.
Photography by Karson Hallaway