It didn't take me long to discover that I really had nothing to wear that year in Sweden. I managed to squeak out a few weeks of dressing...until I started to get a wee bit rounder. And then most of what I'd brought with me didn't fit.
To make matters worse, the Swedish girls dressed in a way that was entirely different from my American friends. At first I really couldn't put my finger on exactly what it was other than to say that many of them wore things that I would have been embarassed to wear back home. Like big mohair sweaters (chunky-knit cotton was big back home) and socks with sandals (eeeek!). Some things were the same, like Converse All-Star high tops and jeans. I had become so accustomed to seeing nearly everyone in the states dressing like carbon copies that it took me by surprise to see something different. And I'm ashamed to admit that at the time I thought they did it because they didn't know any better.
Several things, however, became exceedingly apparent to me as the year went on. These Swedish girls each had a unique style that was all their own--and dressed in a manner that I felt intuitively was more "grown up". All the kids in my American high school wore jeans day in and day out. These girls favored slacks and skirts. What I had originally seen as a lack of fashion sense was really a lack of conformity...and a very highly develped sense of personal style. I was really a fish out of water. I had nothing to wear and no style to call my own. Until I met Caryn.
Caryn was another exchange student from the states. Had we not both been far from home that year I am not sure we would have ever become friends, as Caryn dressed in a manner that I found...welllll... frightening. I'll explain more tomorrow...but let it be known that we did indeed become the best of friends, and this girl taught me more about developing style than anyone before or after. So come on back now, y'hear?
(Or mosey on over to my website and take a gander while you are waiting.)