You know the story well: a friend shows up in amazing dress/top/bag. You ask where they got it from, because you’ve never seen something like that before – it’s gorgeous, different and exciting, and you want it.
Their answer? It’s almost always, “I bought it overseas.”
Having recently come back from a trip to Morocco, with embroidered boots and an amazing vintage leather weekend bag in hand, I’m basking in the post-holiday glow of a refreshed wardrobe that seems completely different when elevated with some fresh blood.
Suddenly my black skinnies and 54 white tees that I’ve been bored of for months appear like an entirely new outfit through the lens of a pair of handmade flat boots. My little black dress is perfectly punctuated by a pair of colourful earrings I bought from a little silversmith in the mountains. My tried and tested weekend sneakers-and-denim combo seems more chic when I add a little clutch I picked up in Fez.
Look, this isn’t a cheeky advertisement for the Morocco tourism board (although you should definitely go sometime in your life, if only for shopping goals). This is about how a new perspective – sometimes completely foreign from your own – can change how you see your personal style.
Travelling makes you a better dresser – because it makes your style completely personal. You pick things you love when you’re overseas, because you have limited luggage space – and those things hold so much more meaning than a bag of assorted naff you’ll pick up this weekend at the shops.
All of my favourite things come with a story; there’s a silver laser cut shoulder bag I bought on a shopping trip to Bangkok from a stallholder who I chatted to for an hour about Paris Fashion Week, and a band tee that I bought at a life-changing concert with my husband that we fight over regularly. (Ok, we fight over all our band tees.)
If you shop local when you’re on holidays, you’ll find local items that you’ll often never see anywhere else – and they’ll always, hands down, be the things that people ask you about.
But it’s also the refreshing perspective of seeing how other people dress, in real life, around the world that inspires me. I’ll never forget the amazing women I saw in Tangier, Marrakech and Chefchaouen – women wearing colour with abandon. It has inspired me to be more daring. Eventually…
Meanwhile, many trips to Asia have instilled me with a quirky edge, and encouraged me to experiment. An awesome trip to Vegas reminded me of the universal appeal of sparkles when out drinking with the girls. A couple of Mexico summers delivered a much-needed chunky jewellery collection to compliment my #basicbitch aesthetic.
I want to dress like myself – not someone else I see on Instagram – and all these stories, all these memories captured in an eclectic collection of random, dotted throughout my wardrobe, makes me a better dresser.
Along with a collection of photographic memories, I collect ideas when I travel – ideas that I translate into personal style. Flourishes that are unique to my travelled experience.
It makes me, me. And what more could you ask for, really?