Not long ago, I bought these Balenciaga pumps because I was looking to replace the leather ones I owned. I was having one of those moments where I was obsessively searching the internet for a suitable vegan pump that was sleek, modern, and could be worn for years to come. I wore my leather ones (they were Louboutin) regularly, so I figured I would do the same with the new pair.
They were part of the sustainable collaboration between Farfetch and Balenciaga, so I might have been drinking the Koolaid a little too intensely. I got overly excited when I saw that Balenciaga, a company who is known for leather, was using sustainable, non-leather materials. I do love them, but I don’t wear them as often as I thought I would. For the first little while that I lived in San Diego, I would forget that I was now located in a very casual beach town. I was still shopping as though I lived in a bustling city and working from an office. I was having a hard time finding the balance between my “old style” and what I had to change about it based on my new surroundings.
Looking back, I made a few hasty choices when I moved, and I should have let my choices evolve naturally before going shopping. Now that I’ve been here over a year, I know which clothes make sense in this climate and how to incorporate them into what I already own. Hindsight is everything, so I put together a list of things to avoid when overhauling your wardrobe during a relocation / big move.
1- Let your new style evolve naturally. When I found out I was moving to Southern California from the Pacific Northwest, I swore I would never look at another knit again and had big plans to wear Isabel Marant dresses all the time. My plan failed. Between moving twice in 6 months, volunteering with animals and working from home with next to no social life, I was living in jeans and a t-shirt. Also, it turns out my new house was situated in a micro-climate, and the weather was much colder than I anticipated, so I suddenly needed my knits!
2- Make use of the shoes you have for the first six months. Unless you’re moving to Chicago in January and you only own flip flops, you don’t need to dump money into new shoes right away. I would never have guessed that I would be wearing booties nine months out of the year in Southern California, but that’s what happened. My feet are always cold, so sandals only work if I’m going to be outside and it’s above 25 degrees (77 Fahrenheit). When I moved to London, I assumed that I would need an umbrella and rain boots. It turns out that I’m incapable of holding an umbrella without injuring myself and rainboots are super annoying. I ended up investing in coats that had hoods (save the blowdry!) and avoiding puddles whenever possible. I think during the eight years of my life that I lived in a rainy climate, I wore wellies less than a handful of times. This is precisely the kind of thing you won’t figure out until you live somewhere for a few months, which is why I suggest waiting before spending on something you might not need.
3- Use this opportunity to do a closet cleanup. My last post was about how to reorganize your closet, and there is no better time than right before a move. A new beginning means letting go of the things that are holding you back, and for a lot of us, that means pruning the f out of your wardrobe. If you live in a sunny climate and have 30 bikinis, now is the time to go through them and narrow it down to 5. When I left Vancouver and decided to move to San Diego, I knew that I had to sell some of my coats. It was tough for me to let go of them, and not just for financial reasons, some had sentdental value. I had a beautiful, military-style Burberry Prosurm coat with a hood that I was OBSESSED with and wore religiously for years, but it was time to say goodbye. It didn’t travel well, which meant it would sit in my storage for years without any love. It deserved better, and space was limited. Out of about seven coats, I kept 2. A leopard Stella McCartney coat and a camel coloured, Maxmara wrap coat that will never go out of style and travels very well. The rest went to new homes. My advice is to keep a handful of items that are extraordinarily sentimental and clothes that will be useful for trips back home (or similar climates). Sell (donate, repurpose) the rest. Moving can be emotional, but going through your closet in advance will make it much easier once you get somewhere new, I promise.
4- Get out and explore! When I first moved, I did what any anti-social person does when dealing with extreme stress. I stayed home unless I left the house to volunteer with dogs. When I wasn’t doing that, I was hating hard on the fashion here. I found it boring, tacky (or both) and I didn’t want any part of it. I was grieving my former life, my friends, my hobbies and the clothes I could wear for a little pick me up when I was having a bad day. I was a brat, and I wasn’t doing myself any favours. Once I made friends and started leaving the house more, I discovered tiny pockets of unique style. I used to dye my hair all kinds of fun colours when I was younger, but it was something I gave up because of work. San Diego is the kind of city where you can have pink or green hair even if you work at a bank. That’s something I can get behind. So while I doubt this will ever be considered a city synonymous with fashion, I love the creative and artistic freedom that the city embraces.
5- Go people watching and strike up a conversation with anyone whose style you admire. The last two cities I’ve lived in are Vancouver and San Diego. In Vancouver, I got most of my fashion inspiration for younger Asians who moved to the city for school. I was obsessed with everything they wore, how they wore it and I wanted to be that cool (still waiting). Discussing fashion with these kids inspired my first trip to Japan and helped me discover some cool designers. In San Diego, I get most of my inspiration from the stylish Mexicans that live in my area. I will walk up to anyone fashionable and start talking about clothes. There is no shame in my game. The other day I spent 30 minutes in the pet store discussing the tiny bag trend with a stranger (she was into my mini Falabella). Talking to locals is the best way to figure out where to shop, and you never know, you might make a new friend along the way!
Considering the number of times I’ve moved (4 major relocations in 5 years), you would think that I had this down to a science, but the truth is that nothing can truly prepare you for leaving your home, changing cities, making new friends and starting your life over somewhere new. This list is meant to be used as inspiration, because while it’s great to be organized and have hutzpah, it’s also ok to cut yourself some slack and let things happen naturally.