I used to be a mono color person and my dressing sense extremely orderly. My rules were, what I wear on the top must always be lighter than what I wear on my bottoms, and my shoes were almost always black or dark grey, and patterns were non-existent.
“You must always be neat”, my mom had always taught me; however I feel that in my more innocent days, I might have taken that a little too literally.
Then travel happened, and I discovered a whole new world (yes, pun intended!).
I discovered colors, bold prints and patterns and I discovered multi-layer and non-symmetrical styles in women’s fashions; I learned that even if my top is a different shade of grey to my bottoms, especially splashed with some surprising twists of imagery looked pretty good and that I would still be ‘neat’.
Today, I parade around in a plain skirt topped with bold printed shirts, and wear necklaces made of carved coconut shells painted in clashing colors.
Of course, style is such an acquired concept, and not everyone gets me.
When my travels took me to the Quechua communities in Peru, the hill tribes of Thailand, the traditional villages of the Pacific Islands and the Aboriginal heartland of Australia, I fell madly and deeply in love with tribal arts and prints, and have found that they work really well with modern day clothing and fashion trends.
I remember the day when I left Peru after a five months journey and arrived in Dublin to visit a friend.
As it was close to the end of a work day, she had asked me to turn up at her office straight from the airport, so that I could wait the 30 minutes at the café in her building while she finished up with some emails.
When I first walked through those glass doors that led me into the heart of corporate land, all eyes turned towards me.
As I scanned my surrounding and recognized the familiar black and grey shades of business wear, I realized why: I had turned up in my casual Peruvian day wear of bright pink pull string pants with vertical stripes matched with a red jumper made of alpaca wool weaved in the pattern of Incan ritual symbols, complete with necklace and bracelets made of jungle beads painted in various colors.
It took my friend a whole ten minutes to stop laughing. “Wow, you look… tribal!”
I thought I looked pretty good.