Both Don and I always cared about dressing well, even if we didn’t always achieve it. Don liked smart pants, chinos or Dockers, and brightly coloured shirts, with ties and a leather jacket in the winter. And real lace-up shoes. For dressy occasions he had a couple of smart pants and jackets, and of course his “going to court” suit for when he had to give expert witness testimony. He liked to dress well, and hated to look sloppy or as if he didn’t care. Thanks to my assistance (and doing the actual shopping) he had a quite extensive wardrobe. When we first got together he didn’t even own a pair of sandals.
I’ve always loved clothes and fashion and dressing up. My mum was a dressmaker/designer extraordinaire and loved clothes and fashion. She tried to pass on her passion to her four daughters, with greater or lesser success. During my teens and twenties I was always the epitome of style. I remember the mod era of mini skirts, and bell-bottoms, and jockey hats. Then in my early twenties I started travelling, left Australia for eighteen months, and came home a Hippie. I still loved clothes and fashion and dressing up, only now it was all Hippie-style. That lasted years and years, along with a stint living in the bush in the far north of Canada where I basically wore bush clothes (read jeans and plaid shirts).
Then I moved to the city. It was a slow transition over many years. With much help from What Not To Wear, and support from Don, I gradually shed the Hippie image and really got into plain smart elegant adult outfits. At least that’s what I was always striving for. There was a growing confidence during this period, and as that grew, I took more trouble with how I looked, and my outfits got smarter and simpler and more put together. I always wore makeup when I went out, and almost always wore high heels. I loved the whole thing. It was fun, and fed my ego, and my vanity, and made me feel good.
When we first left on our nomadic journey we took 28-inch suitcases filled with actual “outfits” for our journey around Italy and Spain.
Something happened in India. We shaved our heads, bought some cheap, very light, cotton clothes, and have never looked back.
Comfort and cleanliness were always included in the list of apparel priorities. Now they’re pretty much the only priorities. Got a little stain on it. Shrug. Got a little tear in it. Oh well. As long as it’s comfortable and isn’t stinky, and covers us up well enough, we’re good to go. We’re down to 21-inch cases. Clothes are pretty much purely practical these days, and if they actually look okay too it’s a bonus.
It’s not that we completely don’t care, but everything is so much more casual and practical. I can’t remember the last time I bothered with make-up or jewelry. I bought a pair of extremely comfortable slip-on canvas shoes before I left Vancouver. I think I’ve worn them about 99% of the time for the past six months. They are filthy, and starting to wear out a bit but I’ll not wear anything else. Don too has his favourite lace-up walking shoes and won’t wear anything else. Our sandals and flip flops almost never see the light of day.
I suppose the difference is more obvious in me with the shedding of make-up, hair styling and jewelry, but although it may not show as much, Don too has become far more relaxed and casual about his appearance.
This photo was taken today at a country wedding we wandered into across the river from Yangon, Myanmar. There will be many more photos of that event when I eventually get to the Myanmar posts. Needless to say we were dressed for the occasion. Not.
Photo of the day: Hanging out. Kompong Chhnang floating village, Tonle Sap River, Cambodia
All words and images by Alison Louise Armstrong unless otherwise noted.
© Alison Louise Armstrong and Adventures in Wonderland – a pilgrimage of the heart, 2010-2015.