Why have I started this post with the image of a small plane? Well, I was prompted to think about my style identity a little this week after reading a blog post written by an image consultant. While I often read her posts I often identify very little. One statement she made this week was that she was adventurous. Now I have never claimed to be adventurous, but then I thought I a little more about my life, and why my style identity can be somewhat eclectic.
I was born in England, so I have an underlying English style identity (classic, elegant clothes) but it is also very Australian (much more casual and I have had limited opportunities for elegance!) as I have lived here for most of my life. We migrated to Australia when I was 10 after my father was headhunted for a position in Sydney, We found that we had been a bit misled and that my father's vision was not going to work- so off we went, overland, to Adelaide - and no job in sight. My father did get the contract through that was required - he had the key to all the key people in the UK and Europe (and the company managed to lose it after my father left, after only twelve months!) while my mother and her family lived in a caravan for months in Adelaide. I found that a great adventure - my mother made it fun, but imagine how difficult it must have been for her - alone, in a new country with no support, and a young baby. So from a young age I grew up very quickly, learning to adjust to new environments.
As our fortunes as a family had changed, (not helped by my mother's wicked stepmother embezzling my mother's inheritance) I decided to train as a nurse. This was in the good old days of hospital based training, and we worked hard - and style was not a big thing in that job! So I developed a very practical attitude to life, and choose clothes that work for my lifestyle.
And as an adult, I have also lived in many places in Australia - Adelaide (bottom of South Australia and my Australian hometown), Perth (south west part of Western Australia), Perth, Alice Springs (now that's adventurous - not many people will go there - but it is a wonderful place to live, a real sense of community - not even showing on this map - which just goes to show how most people are unaware of the place - it's just above the mid point of the line dividing South Australia from the Northern Territory, ), now Newcastle - just north of Sydney, on the east of New South Wales. And I thought nothing of any of these moves - it must have been my early migration experiences that allow me to upstumps and relocated more easily than some people. So I think I am more adventurous than the style blogger I was reading who had lived in one spot all her life and went on holidays where she had adventures. I seem to have lived them instead! Mind you, not so much nowadays.
Although in a few weeks time I will be going to Wagga Wagga - isn't that a great name. Wagga Wagga is south west of Sydney, one of Australia's larger regional centres. Most people in Australia live in the major cities, and the population thins right out in the rural areas. In Australia, large is a little different from large in some other countries in that our large regional centres often have populations of 25,000 or less. This would be tiny in many countries, but rates as a large city in rural areas in Australia! Wagga (we all tend to shorten the name) is about 75,000 people - it grew a lot a few years ago when the College of Higher Education became a University and drew more people to the area. And that is where my study is based - I study by distance. I do have to do a residential school later this year and will be travelling by plane to Wagga Wagga. I could drive, but this is no more expensive. My husband is a little little protective and likes to make things easy for me and he likes to book these flights for me. AND I like flying in turbo prop planes. (My father was an engineer who worked in the production of many of the worlds earliest planes, including running a factory at age 19 during WW2 that produced the Merlin engine, and setting up the factory for the first commercially successful jet, the ill fated Comet - the more recently known planes that belong in this family tree is the Airbus, so I grew up with a a slight fascination with planes and globalisation - for of course, the technogies of communication and transportation are all harbingers of the global era, but I digress enormously...).
So, back to the Wagga Wagga airport in the middle of the Riverina area (main river the Murrumbidgee - wonderful Australia names).
Getting of the plane, kitted out in fairly practical clothes like these people:
Going into a very small regional airport where the University bus will pick me up.
(and if you are curious about the origins of the name Wagga Wagga, it has been inspired by words in from the language of the indigenous Wiradjuri people. There is some conjecture are to whether it means crow, or dancing. I guess a place rich in crow food would also be a good place for celebrations and dancing, so maybe there is a linguistic trail there that someone will work out one day).
The temperatures will be around 22 degrees C during the day and go down to about 9 degrees at night. I decided I needed a warm fleecy jacket for both the travel and the campus, that is casual but looks smart. So that is what I am going to make next:
First I will make a muslin out of a cheap knit I have saved for muslin purposes, then I hope, if the pattern works, to make a second version in a warm tracksuit fleece - or sweater fleece, as I think it is called in the U.S.
So, I think my style identity is a very practical sort of classic casual with an elegant edge, which I adapt to whatever environment I happen to be in. Because you can never be elegant if you are not dressed for the lifestyle or culture of the people you are mixing with - and you must always take an interest in them too :).
Best of wishes to all of you, wherever you are in the world