Friday, August 24, 2012

expat in Addis fashion

One thing I've learned that comes with moving around a lot is the need to reinvent my wardrobe in every new place we live.   I'm determined to approach this challenge as an opportunity to look at my closet in a fresh new way.

I like fashion.  I wouldn't say I'm extremely fashionable all the time, but I try.  Being at home with 3 kids most of the time has taken it's toll on my fashion sensibility.  My new sensible outlook on my attire is kind of appropriate for the country we live in right now.  Being in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia has forced me to completely rethink my ideas about fashion and clothing.  Sensible and appropriate is "in" here.

Expat fashion couldn't have been more different in the Philippines.  My skirts were shorter my heels were higher and everything was brighter!  All I had to do was slip into one of the 37 Zara stores in Manila to see what was currently on trend.  Actually, I didn't have to even do that.  Just glancing at what everyone was wearing while they walked one of the gazillion malls proved educational.  I wouldn't say the Philippines is the most fashionable of Asian countries, but fashion was definitely a priority for the upper class.  It was everywhere in Manila.  My closet became populated with some really great stuff during our time in the Philippines.

All that great stuff is just hanging there mocking me right now as we navigate life in Ethiopia.  Not only would most of those things be completely inappropriate for the climate and terrain of Addis Ababa, I would look ridiculous.  I'd surely stumble on the uneven pavement or cobble stone sidewalks.  My feet would be muddy or dusty. For the first time in my life my husband nixed a dress I put on for a diplomatic function because it was just too short for the function.  The culture here is very modest.  It's also Africa.  Expats wear rugged cargo pants and safari shirts with lots of pockets. Sensible shoes is an understatement.  Let's just say navigating Africa chic is new for me.

That being said, I'm taking a look at what's in my closet that I can use here in Ethiopia.  Some things will surely sit unworn for two years but other things are destined for a comeback.

My plan is to reinvent expat fashion in Addis Ababa for myself.  First thing on the list I've discovered is the need for a hat.  The sun is brutal here, even during rainy season it's easy to get a sun burn.  I didn't have a hat in my wardrobe so this is a newly acquired item.  It's a wide brimmed fedora.  If I'm out of the house, it's on my head.
Stay tuned for more expat in Addis fashion tips. You know, for whenever you plan to be an expat in Addis!

A big thank you to my five year old for taking a few minutes from playing with her Barbies to snap these photos for me.  She's a blossoming photographer.  


Natasha said...

Cute hat! I think you'll definitely be able to use it post-Ethiopia as well. Clicking through to some of your Manila fashion posts reminded me of one HUGE purchase I have yet to make on my pre-moving-to-post shopping list: a dress for the Marine Corps Ball!

Sara said...

Where are you headed? If you ever get to a post you can have one made you should do it. It's so much fun!

Megan said...

Maybe you could pick me up one of those wide brimmed hats before I come in DEc. I may need it and I have nothing but baseball hats here. I most certainly wont be able to buy one as The stores don't even carry shorts anymore.

Sara said...

I purchased this hat online at Nordstrom. I think you'll have to do the same. It's cute that you think I could actually purchase something like this in Ethiopia. You are in for a real surprise when you arrive in Dec. I'll search for one online for you, send you the link then you can order it!
Love, Sara

Melinda Renee said...

Sara- check out the clothing brand Athleta... it is very "outdoor rec" style... I've just recently discovered it, and fallen in love, especially since they have TALL sizes! (they also have petites) *grin*

Sara said...

Thanks Melinda. I will definitely check it out. It's associated with Gap I think I've seen the tab when I pull up ON and Gap online. Look at me-going from heels to rugged!

Heather P. said...

Love the hat and scarves! I laugh because in my opinion you are super fashionable, way more than I am as a working woman in the states! I forsee my sense of fashion changing over the next couple of years...they dress pretty classy where we are headed, and I will need some tips :).

Sara said...

Heather, moving has a way of revitalizing areas of your life-one are is the way of dress. It's easy to get in a rut. Moving will rid you of the rut!

dusoft said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dusoft said...


I have added few more tips on Addis on my blog:
Addis Ababa tips

Specifically, how to get around, airport info etc. I am currently writing to add more.

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Cheers, Aqsa Rao

Dd said...

I will be moving to addis this summer and would love to have a hat like that.