A time that I felt out of place in the fashion world was when I went abroad. The month before I left, I researched what Italian women wore and I bought clothes that were similar to the styles I saw. Although this helped me slightly, I still stuck out like a sore thumb. Even when I thought I was doing a good job blending in, promoters for travel companies would come up to me to promote student trips, Italians would talk to me in English and even other tourists would ask me questions in English. After a few weeks, I reevaluated my clothes and I realized one of my biggest give aways for looking like an American was wearing leggings and going to class with wet hair. Italians rarely wear them and they typically wear jeans or dress pants. They also would never leave the house with wet hair because it is seen as sloppy and unprofessional. I started always wearing jeans and dressing up a bit more for class. I also started showering at night so that my hair would be dry for class the following day.
The most rewarding moment after I made these changes was walking through the leather market. Usually all of the vendors speak in English trying to get tourists to spend their money on products. I went into a small shop and the store owner immediately started speaking to me in Italian. I had to slow her down and tell her I was American and she said, “Oh, I’m sorry I thought you were Italian.” It made my day.
After returning to America, I still find myself dressing up more than the average college student and I try my best to not leave the house with wet hair. One of the biggest changes I have realized if how uncomfortable I feel leaving the house in leggings. I became so used to wearing jeans every day that when I wear leggings now I feel underdressed and inappropriate.