If you're not yourself, who are you?

One of my favorite parts about the southeast is that I don't quite fit the mold. Wait, what? What I once complained so much about has finally shown me its silver lining. Throughout my apartment hunting and scouring Google Maps in an attempt at learning my way around before I was even around, I managed to ignore the fact that people might just ~be~ different in another region of the US. And I don't mean like a southern hospitality kind of thing. When I first landed in Alabama, I noticed people wore really weird things, as far as I was concerned. If you're not wearing a t shirt (it has to be a Comfort Colors tee) three sizes too large, shorts whose existence are questionable underneath said shirt and clunky sandals, you're clearly not from around here. I never gave much thought to what I wore back home, I typically just threw on whatever was clean and marginally "nice." But even so, nowhere in sight was the denim, the skirts, the dresses, the footwear, hell-- even the skinny jeans. The only time these would show up were for going out, which was weirder to me, still. Back home, you got dressed up when going out. It's like everything was one step behind what I was used to. The only things I recognized in casual, everyday attire were Nikes. At least I had a pair of those. But my backpack, my water bottle, even my phone case were all wrong. Not even the terms I used seemed to be recognized among locals. Ordering at a restaurant was a nightmare. All too quickly, I realized that everything that defined me save for my shoe size was just wrong. And, because I am still an insecure teenager at heart, I tried fitting myself to that mold with disastrous results. I pulled off exactly 2% of the local style. That 2% consisted of the Nikes I already owned and a Vineyard Vines cap I bought at some fratty place in Panama City Beach on a weekend trip when I realized my sunglasses (which were also wrong) were not enough protection. That cap and I just clicked and can be seen frequenting my Instagram page.

Oyster City brews in Apalachicola, FL // Wildfox sunnies // Vineyard Vines cap

Without going into embarrassing detail regarding my failure at the southeastern style, I decided to buck up and be unapologetically myself. I stuck out, everywhere I went I felt the weight of twenty sets of eyes judging, "who's this chick wearing jeans in September? Is that a leather jacket?" But you know what? I felt good, finally. I felt like myself and I was comfortable with it, which is worth it in and of itself. But let me tell you something else: shopping here is a dream. When everyone is scouring the shelves for the exact items I have no interest in, labels and pieces that give me heart palpitations go unnoticed, and more often than not, go on super-mega-once in a lifetime-if I don't buy this now I will kick myself tomorrow-clearance.

Jeffrey Campbell booties

When I moved here, I was hauling exactly three items: a box I had shipped to myself from home, my carry-on, and my CĂ©line luggage tote filled with whatever I tossed in before heading for the airport. 95% of everything else I've accumulated has been purchased here, and my style has never been better.  I don't shop mainstream anymore. Instead, I frequent the local thrift stores and clearance racks. Boutiques don't fit me, so I don't even bother shopping locally in that sense. No outing is complete until I've pulled my boyfriend aside and quietly said, "this is a [insert label here] for $16. This never would have rolled in LA."

So while I've appreciated the quality and true comfort of Comfort Color t shirts (I have stolen exactly 4 from my boyfriend thus far), and acknowledged that you need loose fitting clothing for the summer heat and humidity, I've also discovered and cultivated my own sense of style. The best part? I'm saving a ton of money growing my baby wardrobe, too!


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