Things to Consider for Your Art Basel Carry-On: Finding Personal Style in Packing

Going home for the holidays and subsequently returning to New York City a few days later made clear the fact that my relocation to the city had caused not only a penchant for public transportation and a dependency on soy lattes but also a change in my sense of style.

Past trips home found me lugging suitcases larger than myself stuffed with every dress, skirt, blouse, and denim I owned. I would get home and within minutes the contents of the suitcase would be thrown from wall to wall and I would be left with nothing to wear despite the deluge of unwanted clothing.

Pre-New York, I changed my style with the frequency in which designers change fashion houses. One day, nothing could be better than an oversized floral dress, and the next only a crisp blouse, a pleated skirt and some shiny oxfords will do. I had trouble deducing my style to something that I could articulate, much less embody. Today I’m channeling Jane Birkin and tomorrow I’m harkening to the time in my life where I thought I was a flower child.

It all changed upon moving to New York City – I have in many ways found my look. Quel exploit! My sense of style was turned onto its highest setting, it was boiling if you will, as I was constantly surrounded by fashion and thus hyper-aware of my own sartorial choices. And after a few months on a rolling boil, everything extraneous evaporated and I was left with the core pieces that truly defined my style and projected who I wanted to be.

Either that or the fact that the physical space in which to keep my clothes was so drastically reduced that I was forced to give up what didn’t fit under my bed and in my oven.

This past trip home I brought only a carry-on, (to the shock and awe of my family.) And what I packed I have found were the bare bones of my personal aesthetic. My if you can only bring three things on a desert island, okay more like ten things, this is what they’d be. I brought the things that I could mix and match, dress up or down and that would always undoubtedly flatter. Things that technically are all I need.

Instead of shifting through piles of pretty but unnecessary and often floral pieces, I could throw on any one of the slouchy trousers, sweaters, and ballet flats and be ready to go anywhere.  Anywhere! The time in which it took me to leave the house was reduced by half. I had finally found the basics that would always work and can now just focus on stock piling those, steadily improving the quality and fit of each item. And thanks to the nature of New York I only really need them in one color! Black.

I have in many ways found my uniform; a term that now doesn’t cause me to quake in memory of my Catholic grade school dress code. I can now not only articulate my style but also epitomize it on the daily. Donning my daily uniform of cigarette trousers, a crew neck sweater and granny heels feels immensely more satisfying than the the polo shirt, plaid skirt and sweater vest wearing days.

Photo: Norman Wong

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