An Island Girl’s Fashion Observations

Written by: Sarah H

 

It’s been just over 6 months since I’ve been off my rock. Really, all things considered, that’s not too shabby. Roatan’s high season is typically late November through late May, a stretch of time where the tourists are plentiful, and as a result, the hotels, restaurants, dive shops, and bars are a-flowin’. Being the lucky girl that I am, a travel opportunity knocked within a week of the start of slow season and… I answered!

On the travel plan is a quick jaunt home to see the family, then I’m off to SE Asia to meet friends for some diving and adventure. But before I can officially begin my holiday festivities, the travel portion of my program begins. Though the “getting there” part is generally something most people dread, for an island girl like me, it’s all a part of the excitement. In fact, I’m not even home yet (as in, I literally just left the island this afternoon), and I’m already quite fascinated with, well, everything!

One of the most captivating aspects of re-entering mainstream civilization is by far the fashion and current trends. Living in relative isolation where all you maybe notice is when someone gets a new pair of flip flops, it’s always a fun surprise to see what people are wearing these days.

A 5-hour layover in Houston doesn’t bother me in the slightest for a few simple reasons: 1) they have a lovely wine bar loaded with vino from places other than Argentina and Chile; 2) there’s free wifi; and 3) the people-watching through the concourse is TOP NOTCH.

*click for image credit

I’ve always been an avid people-watcher. There’s so much to take in on both men and women: shoes, hair, clothes, purses, luggage… all of it. Nothing escapes my intrigued gaze.

By far the best part of people-watching in Houston, Texas is the abundance of cowboy boots. Mmmm hmmm. And no, I’m not talking about the super shiny, pointy kind. I love spotting the ones that look like they’ve actually been utilized down on the ranch with purpose, the way they were intended. Their clack on the floor is a bit muted by the wear on the sole. Combined with the wearer’s lightly faded, dark blue jeans, it’s the perfect combo, not too faded and not too new, the jeans’ lengths set at just the right spot. I’m having a hard time shifting my focus upward…

My main fashion shock this year comes in the form of wild, printed leggings. My best friend and I, separated by 3,000 miles of land and sea, have achieved The Art of Long Distance Shopping together, making expert use of online browsing and Facebook messenger. I had recently sent her a link of such leggings as a joke, and from her “real world” vantage point, she kindly informed me they were an actual trend; an unfortunate one, to be sure, but one that’s caught on nonetheless.

And it’s here I spot them. My eyes are pulled away from my cowboy boot fetish more than once – lace print leggings, zebra print leggings, even Navajo leggings. They’re everywhere and I must say, as equally unflattering in person as they look online. Perhaps since they are stretchy and worn super tight, they should come with friendly recommendations on when they are appropriate and not? Just a thought.

I can't be the only one who thinks these are hideous... right?

I can’t be the only one who thinks these are hideous… right?

Wedges certainly seem to be the way to go this season, judging by the passing traffic. Not as many high heels currently that I can tell; more boots, sandals, and wedges appear on the scene. Wait – what season is it anyway?

Ah yes, May. Which means in some places, it is finally warm when it was recently cold. Maxi skirts galore. They all look so cute and cozy and I’m jealous. Maxi skirts have definitely made it onto my Mission List of things to find while stateside.

I have to say, the biggest disappointment thus far is the fact that men’s dress pant lengths have still not improved. They’re still too short! Why, WHY would I want to see your socks (or lack thereof) as you walk? And WHY would I want to see if you shave your legs above the sock line when you sit down? It’s just disturbing – something I’ve never been able to understand.

That said, I must say that overall, men’s business casual has gotten a lot more creative and attractive. Based on my personal airport observations, the dark grey suit is clearly “in” now. But might I suggest we get a little fanciful and throw in some gingham or bright colours? Get my attention! Kick the dress shoes up a notch while you’re at it and go out on a limb – perhaps opt for a nice cognac leather or a shiny merlot. You definitely can’t go wrong with the classic stiff black and starch white combo, just make sure you’re sporting a confident attitude to match, gentlemen!

Stripes and plaid seem to be here to stay. And I’ll bet anyone $20 that I can identify those traveling with me to my gate (headed to Portland, Oregon) by their commitment to said stripes, plaid, and hiking shoes long before we’re anywhere near the gate.

It’s then my focus suddenly shifts from the crowd back to myself. After all of my shoe critiquing,  I realize I’m barefoot, making myself a little too comfortable, sitting cross-legged in my chair. I must have subconsciously kicked off my flip flops… a common trait of mine these days. It seems that after all this time on an island, everywhere I go, the shoes come off moments after arrival. Maybe not proper airport behavior past security? Whoops!

Leaving sand souvenirs in the airport...

Leaving sand souvenirs in the airport…

It’s then I wonder – who’s watching me? With the roles reversed, I can only imagine what type of blog post someone could be writing about this island girl’s attire. I think we’ve all been pretty honest when we admit a simple stain does not equal wardrobe sacrifice, and a little worn hole or tear simply adds island-y character. I’m sure you now have at least an idea of the “fashion” I’m sporting during this people-watching session. Ah, well. While the salty, ocean air and sunshine tend to take a toll on my wardrobe, I sure wouldn’t change it for a thing, least of all looking presentable in an airport. I’ll just sit back and enjoy the show from where I belong – in the audience.

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Sarah Henke

About Sarah Henke

Sarah has spent the last year settling into island life after falling in love with Roatan’s vibrant landscape and beautiful people while on a SCUBA vacation just 4 months prior to her move. She never dreamed she would find herself an expat before retiring, but so far, it fits her quite nicely. She thinks her little old scooter is the greatest thing since she made the discovery that the tree in front of her house is in fact a mango tree. Sarah has grown to find much joy in the unpredictable happenings on the island from the guy who tries to sell her tamales on the beach during her morning run to the baby chicks marching across her yoga mat mid-session. Most Sundays, you’ll find her at “church” just beyond her front yard, 70 feet below sea level, flirting with curious fish, searching for the occasional seahorse, and “praying” for a chance to admire a whale shark or hammerhead… from afar. You can read more about her journey on her blog, www.bellagypsysol.blogspot.com.

CURRENT ROCK OF RESIDENCE: Roatan, Honduras

ISLAND GIRL SINCE: 2012

ORIGINALLY HAILS FROM: Portland, Oregon

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5 thoughts on “An Island Girl’s Fashion Observations

  1. “by their commitment to said stripes, plaid, and hiking shoes” hahah. And I could be found in Barnes & Noble at this exact moment I write you this comment, sitting barefoot and cross legged. It must be that island living that crawls into our souls.

  2. I love when you turn back the lens on yourself here and talk about holes and stains being a part of an island wardrobe. It’s funny because it’s true. There are so many clothes that I’ve had to throw away now that I’m stateside and stained clothing (it’s only a little extra bleach) aren’t de rigeur anymore. I hope you’re back on your island now and enjoying the extra ventilation in your rocky duds!

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