It started off with shoes, but then it became a bigger question. Does where you live change the way you dress?
Yes. A resounding yes.
I’m not sure if Americans are aware just how different they are than the rest of the world. Obviously American travelers gain a sense of this and extensive travelers really get a sense of this. As a teacher living abroad, I get a little bit annoyed that we Yankees are the only ones that refer to football as soccer or that we use the Imperial system (along with Liberia and Burma – wow) as oppose to the international standard, the metric.
Americans also dress very differently. The fun thing is I can usually tell who is from what country based on the way they dress. Two men wearing salmon pink trousers walking down the street? NOT Americans. Upturned polo collars? Hells no. Canadian flag proudly sewn on backpack? Hmmm. White sneakers? Strong chance. Fanny pack/belly bag? Ding! Ding, Ding!
We like to be comfortable, yes. And well, Americans have become casual dressers. I long for the days past where women wore smart dresses and men, hats with their suits and ties. We’re too casual in our pajamas at the grocery store or wearing Daisy Dukes with tight tops to pick up our children from school.
Ever since I moved abroad I’ve become a more conservative dresser. I used to wear shorts and t-shirts fairly religiously. And one of my favorite all-time comfortable outfits was a bright orange velour sweatpants and jacket combo (ala Jennifer Lopez). But depending on where I am in Thailand, I don’t usually wear shorts even in this tropical heat.
What? Are you insane? Nah. Despite Thailand’s reputation for bar girls and full moon parties, it’s a country where cleavage is not regularly on display, short shorts have just recently come into fashion, and bare midriffs are rare as a road without rubbish. In bigger cities, you’ll find less conventional clothing styles and fashion, but in smaller cities, I don’t dare wear shorts. My rural roots family will simply think I’m a tart and I can’t have that.
And since I’m back to being a teacher after a long hiatus of “WTF am I doing with my life”, I’ve returned to my long, flowery or bright dresses that I used to live in when I was a Waldorf teacher. I paint my nails, too. Manicures and pedis are affordable here so I got into the habit through friends. These days I don’t go to the salons because I have acquired so much nail polish at home. Oh, and I wear makeup. Yessiree, I’ve become a much more Asian Asian.
Has living abroad changed the way you dress? What about when you travel? Do you dress differently?