Life & Luggage: Treasures in My Suitcase

Travelling is a beautiful thing but packing is agonizing. I came to terms with this, recently, as I try to squeeze all my belongings into a single suitcase. The task of having to choose what to go with and what to leave behind is quite a conundrum. Everything seems to serve a purpose, how am I expected to choose? The dress you wore on that first date, the jeans that make your butt look just right and let’s not even discuss that shirt that goes with everything. They all tell your story, hold such significance to you and your memories almost like a sibling or friend. You have been through so much together. So, how do you decide what gets packed and what doesn’t? I was moving, relocating from my country Kenya to America. Gasp! I have a hard time packing for shorter trips and I knew this was going to be harder. It’s more than just deciding what to bring with you. It is an emotional experience. There I was, rummaging through my clothes and picking what I would be leaving with, what would remain and what to give away to friends that coveted this or that. I would very much have liked to bring every single item in my closet with me but my baggage allowance would not allow that. The mission was to very carefully select my clothes, bags and shoes and make sure they fit the limited space. It hit me that I had to focus on what was more important; the purpose of my journey and the new life ahead of me. Nothing should take away the joy of your journey or from discovering the new you!

My head was much clearer and I had a game plan. Koya, the stylist was in action. I decided to give out most of my belongings to my friends. Fun times for them but not for me. However, this taught me a valuable lesson. I was only letting go of material possessions. Clothes I was enslaved to. It felt so empowering. As I kept giving stuff away, I felt lighter. Not only was my load being reduced but in my mind's eye, I was no longer attached to any item. I did not have to convince myself that I could squeeze all these things in my suitcase. I realized that I did not need all those clothes to define my style or enhance my already vibrant personality. In fact, I was going to take this as a challenge to be creative, adventurous and expressive with my downsized wardrobe. At the end of the strenuous packing session, I found myself with: two pairs of heels and boots each, one pair of vans and two cute sandals, three pairs of jeans, ten cool tops with a mix of textures and prints and color, five dresses, three jackets and two sweaters. There, I had done it. I was able to reduce my entire two year or more supply of clothes to just that and I was going to make it work without having to stock up. On my arrival to the United States, I was not ready for winter and neither was my new limited wardrobe. Powered with my new layering skills, I still remained fashionable and warm despite the fact that I kept rotating my clothes. I was in no way shape or form a slave to trends. I always managed to give what I wore a fresh look. Coming from a tropical country and never really having to consider concepts such as winter or spring clothes, I had found myself submerged in the winter season for the first time. I took my clothes and transitioned them to fit the weather because I was determined not to make impulse purchases. I have to admit that I was forced to buy a warm fuzzy hat to avoid freezing my ears off. Trust and believe no occasion had made me get one before. Everything I picked had to be practical and had to absolutely be a timeless statement piece. Do I need it or do I want it? I needed the fuzzy hat and yes it had to be intentionally awesome. Sooo many clothes but not enough outfits are the antics we keep up with ever so often. Many of us have clothes literally bursting out of our closets. This was no longer my situation. You never really value and appreciate your clothes until you only have a handful and can easily lay out an outfit. As a fashion stylist, it’s extra tasking to have to come up with an outfit from a small collection and not feel like you’re wearing yesterday’s clothes. I have come to realize that in life we always are trying to seek more. More friends, more likes on Instagram, more shoes to fill our closet and the more we have the more we think we are fulfilled and so we constantly keep up with the fad. There is always going to be a new trend, a new pair of heels you have to buy, a new jacket that’s just to die for. I know the struggles of always wanting some retail therapy. I managed to avoid going for shopping as I knew one cute earring bought had to be paired with a sexy heel and a cute dress finished off with a new bag and before I knew I would have clothes for the moment that in a matter of months I would be giving away. Well, now I have less to give away and lots of space to accumulate more clothes, but I feel grounded and hence my mantra owning less stuff but acquiring more quality. What have I learnt from this whole experience? Saving! I saved a whole bunch of money or let’s just say the money I would have spent on clothes I indulged in purchasing my new professional camera. Also, I have become selective in the clothes I want to purchase and I am more aware of my style and creative ability. I have learnt that in every seasonal weather there are fashion pieces that easily transition to another season so find them and keep them. The gratification you really get is not drowning in a sea of clothes. A difficult process not to be taken lightly but highly recommended. My journey advertently equipped me with life lessons. While we are definitely not on the same journey how about we get on equal space and dare to reduce our stuff one cloth at a time. What do you say?