There's nothing like a move from the Far East to Western Europe to rethink one's entire wardrobe.
Magazines (remember those?) used to have regular features about dressing in Dallas vs. New York, or London vs. Milan. Well, Hong Kong dressing is nothing like all of those. Heat and humidity forbid jeans for most of the year, and tight clothes and winter coats are mostly out of the question. After a few months western women who don't work in an office start wearing dresses most of the time, particularly in flowy fabrics like viscose or silk. Men wear white shirts under their suits as pale blue oxford cloth is particularly adept at showing perspiration. Local women working in offices look like consummate professionals in dark dresses and low heels. Local tai tais (ladies of leisure) bring visual joy to the malls and streets in their impeccable haircuts and makeup and head-to-toe designer outfits.
The Landmark, one of the many luxury malls in Hong Kong, hosting a Louis Vuitton pop-up shop this week
Hong Kong style often involves silk and some of the moment designer accessories
Sandro dress (HERE)
Dior shoes (HERE)
At this party, however, I was faced with a bunch of women (mostly British) in very casually expensive clothes but not a lick of makeup. After a few minutes on a terrace surrounded by mirrored trellis, I felt more hot and uncomfortable than I've ever been in Hong Kong. How could I have forgotten? After all I lived and worked in London for ten years before moving to Asia.
Despite global economies, worldwide fashion available at a mere click, and social media connections to far flung locations, style still has well defined hubs. London is different from Hong Kong, Hong Kong is radically different from New York, and Paris is an island (I say that because I think Parisian style is too classic when you take it out of Paris, but when worn by Parisian women amongst the beautiful backdrop of Paris, it's magic). My fashion has slowly but surely adjusted to Hong Kong, and my wardrobe will likely scream tourist when I am in London. The defiant girl in me doesn't care at all, but the party guest girl in me was dying to look the same as everyone else.
So what am I bringing to London? All my Isabel Marant and Proenza Schouler clothes for sure, a beautiful velvet Masscob jacket I recently bought on Matches, all my ankle boots, linen T-shirts, grey jumpers, any cheap and cheerful long floral dresses I have (great with a chunky knits and tall boots), and jeans, glorious jeans. I cannot wait to embrace year-round denim dressing again - I particularly love wearing glam shoes with jeans and jumpers (see this old post from September 2017). Even the great Yves Saint Laurent loved jeans so much he wished he'd invented them.
Fiona Kotur for Swarovski ring
my daughter on the pastel streets of Chelsea
The future is looking lean, hopefully lean enough to fit in one of those tiny pastel colored houses with even tinier wardrobes off the Kings Road in Chelsea. We'll be considered locals there, so no expat housing allowances, and no cooks or drivers (woe is me!). I'll need to invest in basic sweats comfortable enough for hoovering, something I have not done for ten years.
Expat life has been such a treat and such a privilege, I am beyond grateful for my years here. I have met so many wonderful adventurous people coming from all over the world try their luck in Asia. Expats often form an instant bond, as we are all here without our extended families, and the friendships I have made here will always be important to me.
Just like the bare faced women at the party, Londoners won't be quite so welcoming to strangers, and that will be hard for sure. Quite a few expats have told me when they returned home they soon started hanging out with other former Asian expats, even some they didn't actually know in Hong Kong. I suppose it's the shared experience that brings us together.
Hong Kong is beautiful, even when covered in fog and cloud.
Two weeks left here in Hong Kong...
Hope you are having a lovely Sunday! xxx Dianne