When I went to the UK for a client workshop in Reading, my schedule didn’t permit much sightseeing. I had an evening free, though, so I walked through the shop-lined streets and the local malls.
Stores tell interesting stories about a place. What struck me most about the shops in Reading was that hats and fascinators were more popular than they were in Toronto, and much more than in Manila. Feathered combs and flowered headbands hung in racks. Suits were displayed with color-coordinated hats. Although I hadn’t seen anyone wearing a fascinator (perhaps this was saved for cocktail receptions, weddings, and other events), it tickled me pink that millinery was alive and well.
Stores also have a way of telling people what “normal” is. As in Toronto, Reading’s stores stocked clothes with cool spring colours that go well with paler skin. With my brown skin and warm tones, it’s hard for me to find anything that makes me feel comfortable – hence the preponderance of black and white in my closet. Size is often an issue, too. It’s hard to find petite clothes in small sizes. It’s hard to find wide office-ready shoes with low heels (or none at all). Shopping often frustrates me and makes me feel alien.
I’ll just have to learn how to make things myself, and stock up on clothes whenever I’m in Asia. =)
In the meantime, I can explore the local quirks: fascinators in the UK, racks of winterwear in Toronto, and other interesting things. (I didn’t actually buy a fascinator, as my social calendar typically does not involve many opportunities to wear one, but I had fun browsing!)