My experience abroad has been great for many things. Yet coming to one of the Big Four fashion capitals for a year has left me a bit disillusioned on the path to personal sartorial enlightenment. For one, the lifestyle here is surprisingly less accommodating to all types of dress, so I have found that my style has become slightly more masculine. Secondly, since everything is so expensive it is difficult to feel as adventurous when buying. So I naturally will only purchase either a more "investment"-type piece or something neutral that I'm certain I will wear often. Thirdly, though many students who go to my university dress in suits...etc (the hardo, future politician-types), I still feel like I have to be casual, but then sometimes being casual feels out of place on the Parisian streets, where most of my time is spent (if I'm not napping, of course, which is what I've spent this day doing).
So essentially there's a lot at play here. How do I reconcile all of these? I haven't yet figured that out. And in a diverse metropolitan city such as this, the melting pot of style has left me both overwhelmingly inspired but also pulled in many directions. Am I going to commit to being a tomboy? The classic French mom look? The eclectic Man Repeller look?
And then I visited Milan. While I only had about 2 days here, I tried my best to do at least some shopping. I find it hard to actually comment on this when I haven't seen nearly enough, but I'm gonna try anyway.
Most of what I saw in Milan was a string of very common high end or high street stores. Nothing to hoot-and-holler about, that's for sure. But I did start visiting some of the off-the-beaten-path boutiques and was PLEASANTLY surprised. The smaller boutiques, while difficult to find, boast some incredibly beautiful and well-made pieces (Brera neighborhood, specifically). And as for vintage and outlets, well, they did not disappoint either. I went to some warehouse outlet for high end clothing, hidden in the fashion district, and it was basically a pot of gold. I think I almost fainted. Though difficult to sort through, I did find some incredible things that I would have sold my limbs for, but the only issue is that they were STILL far overpriced.
I began to wonder, what non-normal/non-high end brands exist here? And what exactly do these Italian women wear? Do they all own the same Gucci purses? Do they all wear the same Marni pants with the same Miu Miu top? And do they all wear the same Balenciaga heels? From the selection in the department store, I gathered that Italian women wear many colors... bright colors, and sometimes even sequins and feathers. Maybe. Which I love.
And I come back to Paris and reflect on these questions. I've decided, I think, that I don't need to fit into one box. Some days I channel Diane Keaton, others Ulyana Sergeenko.