Adding to our study abroad series, FAST Blogger Grace recounts her study abroad experience and fashion finds throughout her travels:
Last quarter I studied abroad in Florence, Italy. Getting to study in a country that many would consider a fashion capital of the world was completely life changing. It made me fall in love with fashion all over again. Before going abroad, I had one view of fashion. Now, I have been exposed to so many different types of fashion through so many cultures that I know the beauty of the craft lies in its diversity. Fashion means something different to every place I have been to and every person I have met. This is what makes its power so global.
Because I quickly learned that the definition of fashion in this world is more fluid than I knew, I began to collect a piece of clothing or an accessory from every place I visited, not just to remind me of my memories there, but also how the fashion in those places made me feel in those specific moments.
In Florence, on one of my first days here, I stumbled upon a stand of some of the most beautiful jewelry I had ever seen. The most interesting thing about the jewelry was the abundance of color in each piece. Each pendant had a unique color scheme, making it one of a kind. I bought a necklace and earrings that each had the jeweler’s signature heart shape design, but opposite color palettes. I wore them every day for my first couple of months here, and whenever I pass the stand after, we smiled at each other.
I bought colored rings on a school field trip to San Geminiano. On a rainy and not so fun day, I spent hours in a small crystal shop just admiring all of their beautiful jewelry, and finally by the end of the day, I needed a remembrance of that special spot.
The coat below was one of the first pieces of clothing in my life to make me shed tears. My friends and I were vintage shopping in Milan, and as we stumbled into a particular shop, my eyes fell upon this coat. I almost ran to it. I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. Everything about it was perfect. The color, the length, the fur- it embodied timelessness. Once I tried it on, I knew I had to get it. The owner practically cried as I bought it, saying it was the most beautiful thing in their shop, but that she trusted I would take good care of it. I haven’t worn it much for fear of ruining it, but sometimes I open my closet just to look at it and I can’t stop smiling.
While I bought a lot of earrings on this trip, these are my favorites. I wear them every day. Stars are a significant symbol to me, and I have a star necklace I wear every day and never take off. All of abroad, I had been looking for the perfect star earrings to compliment it, and I finally found them in Amsterdam. Finding them in this city was fitting because Amsterdam was my favorite trip and city of my abroad experience. Finding these on my last day was a perfect end to a perfect weekend. My favorite thing about them is how they’re different, which is also one of the reasons why I love stars in general.
My dirndl from Oktoberfest is more of a memory than a fashion statement. It was one of those things that you have to wear once but you never really need to wear again.
I was ill prepared for the London rain, so naturally I bought this sleek black scarf to keep my hair dry through the thunder storms and the windy bus rides. With my big black sunglasses, I felt like a celebrity incognito.
A vintage store called Moma was located right down the street from my school in Florence. My friend and I went in there one night as we were looking to kill time waiting for a dinner reservation, and we ended up spending over an hour inside. I tried on so many dresses and coats that I loved, but when I came across this pair of jeans, I quickly became obsessed. I tried them on right there in the store, and you know how when you try on a pair of pants, it’s rare that they fit completely perfectly? And so when they do, you kind of just feel like they were made for you and you have no other choice than to just buy them? Just me? Well, that’s what happened with these jeans so I knew I just had to buy them. They’re insanely comfy too!
Speaking of vintage shopping, while many of my abroad purchases came from vintage shops, these sunglasses came from my favorite city to vintage shop in: Paris. No surprises there. I had the most amazing day vintage shopping all over the city. These sunglasses came from Thanx God I’m a V.I.P, and to say I was excited about this purchase is an understatement. I typically don’t wear nice sunglasses because I am scared of losing them, so while I have barely worn these (yet) because I am trying to be careful, I look at them ALL the time. I’m serious- they’re on my bedside table. I literally wake up to them. I just think they’re so different and retro and YSL is one of my favorite designers, so to be able to get sunglasses of theirs for a price in my budget was one of the highlights of my trip.
There are other pieces I bought from other cities, but these snippets give you an idea of some of my fondest memories from studying abroad. Studying in another country was not what I expected; it was better. I could not have imagined that I would be able to experience and the fashion of other cultures I got to see firsthand. I am so grateful for where I have gotten to travel to, what I have gotten to see, and what I now own to forever hold on to.