To say that the only thing I learned while living in Sweden was that my distinctly American fashion sense was truly off the mark would be downplaying the tremendous experience that I had while abroad. Living in another country opened my eyes to wonderfully new and exciting ways of viewing the world. I often wish that I'd had the experience when I was much older than sixteen, because I feel that in many ways I was too young to really absorb all the lessons that were presented to me.
Nevertheless the experience was formative in more ways than one, and I remain ever grateful that I had the opportunity when I did.
But I digress... I believe I promised to tell you about Caryn....
To set the stage I must tell you that sixteen-year-old Jennifer was about as clean cut and straight-laced a girl that ever there was. Sandy from the musical "Grease" had nothing on me...I was as clean as the new-fallen snow. Adam Ant even wrote a song about me! (Ok, well perhaps that is a little overboard, but you get the idea.)
By appearance, Caryn was everything I was not--a rebelious mix of punk and goth with a The Cure/Depeche Mode/Ramones-ish bent. Her favorite color was black, but she wasn't afraid to throw a splash of color or a funky pattern into the mix. She altered her clothes in any way necessary to pull off a certain look. But more than that, she could look at an article of clothing and know instantly if it fit her overall look. Everyone I had ever known had always dressed to fit in. Caryn, however,dressed to fit her own personal idea of style. She judged each article of clothing NOT by whether it was acceptable to everyone else, but by whether or not the cut, the color, and the style were right for her.
Caryn had an enormous influence on me. The year that I returned home to the states I even adopted a large part of her style as my own. (Yes, I was still learning....) She taught me a powerful lesson about developing a style persona and using it to guide your choices in clothing.
Of course, Caryn also realized the impression her clothing choices made on others. And so the year before college, she began to adopt a less rebellious, more mature style...might I even say it was a wee bit preppy! But as always, her choices we consciously made with an eye to the consistent image she wanted to project.
Check back tomorrow and I'll let you know about one amazing feature of Swedish style I learned that year that most Americans are clueless about...and even Caryn didn't know! Until we meet again....
(You have an open invitation to visit me at my wardrobe planning website. Don't knock, just come on in!)