I recently got back from a trip to Penang and it was there among the archaic architecture of colonial mansions and in the thick of the steam that emanated from street vendors carts that I undertook my own mini expedition of “Eat Pray Love; Fashion edition”.
As Penang is typically known for being culinary central, I solemnly swore that I would only be going there to eat, drink and to take in the beauty of my vintage surroundings. With this goal in mind I gingerly tried my hand at packing light and set out with only the basics in my backpack. All I took with me were a pair of black jogger pants, a black cardigan, jeans and about four shirts; all classic pieces and extremely easy to mix and match.
While the extra room in my luggage was replaced by the nagging weight of my reservations that I had been too fast, too ambitious in my quest for comfort and convenience, all doubts and qualms flew out the window as the days passed by and I worried less and less about what I would wear next. The serenity that came with the letting go of my physical wardrobe brought an unprecedented sense of calmness that outweighed everything else and thus began my journey as a serial outfit repeater.
The best thing was that for once, this trip wasn’t about “How am I going to look my best so people can see me at my best and subconsciously perceive my well-being in a positive beaming light?”
It wasn’t about me trying to prove something to my followers on Instagram. It was legitimately me just pushing the boundaries as to how lazy I could get with my outfit by mixing and matching, tucking and folding, pulling down or pulling up the same pieces in different ways each time. It was great!
And yes, at one point it did get annoying having to hand wash the same clothes in the hotel sink at night and then blow drying away any lingering dampness the next day but it really brought the whole trip into perspective. I was comfortable, yet appropriately attired and yet still photo-ready. I could go on a group tour at a 19th century mansion, I could eat chendol (a traditional dessert popular in Southeast Asia) at the side of the road, I could hide away from the heat and lounge around a cafe while eating cake but I could also jump on a bike and cycle around town looking for street art.
In today’s materialistic world, people tend to forget that fashion is nothing without personal style.
It’s not just about owning the trendiest pieces on the market or blindly obeying what the magazines tell you. It’s about bending your wardrobe to fit yourself and your situation. This time, instead of working around my outfits, I made my outfit work for me.
So thank you, Penang, for my newfound appreciation of minimalism and packing light. Just don’t ask me about the makeup bag which took up half of my backpack… that’s a different journey altogether.