One of the funniest quirks about my profession is probably my tendency to think of each episode of my life as a fashion story.
And I think of myself as the heroine of the fashion story, of course, haha, obviously.
Ok, I’m going to guess I’m not the only one, right?
Like now, for example, I’ve just gotten back from a long vacation. The first part was at a farm in Virginia, and the second, if you followed, was surfing in Costa Rica.
Fortunately I made a stop in New York between the two to unpack and repack my suitcase, otherwise I think I might have ended up with a meltdown and a split personality.
The farm in Virginia? No need to go into detail, you’re gonna get it right away.
The contents of my suitcase were as cliché as a Pinterest board.
Big wool socks for hanging out around the fire (with a mug of hot chocolate of course—they call it a prop, like when you give a model a newspaper to make her look interesting sitting in a cafe), wool pants (think Chloé A/W 2008) Duck Boots for walking in the mud while staying chic—rugged, but elegant—big sweaters, plaid shirts, and yes, of course!!! I almost forgot!!! Cozy beanies—you want ‘em, we got ‘em—for going to say hi to the horses.
Then after that, time to head to Costa Rica.
The surfing! The sun! The beach! The hang out! The dirt roads! The quads!
I’d done a little investigating, and my friend Lauren, who I went with and who knows the area, told me. “Don’t bring anything, everyone down there wears the same thing every day.”
I listened to her because I always listen to my friends’ advice, and it’s a good thing I did, because even after reducing as much as possible, I still had a giant suitcase.
So to keep it simple, my professional quirk and I chose a “white” theme. Title of the imaginary fashion series: “Blanche in the sun” or even better “White sun” — you always end up picking stupid titles like that.
So anyway, I said to myself: white’s easy to wash by hand, it goes with everything, and also, it’s one of my favorite colors, and hey, everybody cover your eyes once I start getting a tan I’m gonna be so hot*.
Add to that some pretty rash guards (a kind of t-shirt you wear to protect your stomach from the board and your back from the sun) from J. Crew, a sublime Lisa Marie Fernandez wetsuit, and a few neoprene wetsuits from Patagonia in case the water gets cold**, and off I went to Costa Rica with the “bare minimum” according to a fashion girl***.
I was reassured right away when I arrived and saw that Lauren’s “Don’t bring anything, everyone down there wears the same thing every day” suitcase was even bigger than mine. And she’d even brought A DRESS FOR NEW YEARS. Lolo, how could you not tell me about New Years!?
What do you mean you don’t need to remind someone about New Years?
But the one area I definitely succeeded in was shoes. I only brought one pair of (white) Havaïanas and one pair of (white) Vans.
Ok ok, I also brought my Rondinis, in case of a style emergency.
As for beauty products, I brought my normal kit plus a truck full of sunscreen, to make sure my skin matched my white theme, of course.
Honestly, you could really say I did a pretty good packing job.
But even so, as I was about to realize after two days of trying to keep the “Vogue Paris N°916” (the one with Gisèle on the rocky terrain in Greece) sexy-serene look, reality always catches up to you when you least expect it.
So here is my day-by-day report on my Costa Rican style meltdown. Pure Fashion Detox like I’d never experienced before.
Cool. Classy. White shorts, white t-shirt, Havaïanas.
I brought a beautiful blue suede beach bag****, but apparently, it didn’t fit the scene. A suede bag is heavy, it can get stolen, etc. All my friends have cloth tote bags with funny inscriptions on them.
Since I left my personality in New York, I empty out a Fendi shoe bag that had my bathing suits in it, and I use that as my beach bag.
I like the irony of it, it fits in with the local style of my friends. And fashion is safe and sound. For now.
First surfing lesson, at 7 AM.
I get out of bed and throw on yesterday’s outfit. Too early to think.
Underneath, I put on a little Zimmermann bathing suit that I paid an arm and a leg for right before leaving because “my body hasn’t seen the light of day or even the light of a gym since August” and I bring my rash guard with me.
Problem n°1? I can’t find my instructor so I walk up and down the main street trying to find her. I’m still in New York mode, and I’m fifteen minutes late, so I’m super stressed out, and walking super fast.
Yeah, yeah, the kind of walk that would make even Chris Hemsworth look stupid.
Problem N°2? The streets are partly covered in dirt and partly covered with the fresh molasses they apply to the roadways to keep dust from covering everything. Basically, it’s like walking around in an enormous pot of organic mountain honey.
I’m forced to come and go in the fresh molasses and thanks to my Havaïanas flapping around and splashing me, my legs (and my shorts, and my t-shirt) are covered in mollasses and dust.
I finally find my instructor, who is totally chill (being half an hour late is nothing here) and she gives me an incredible lesson in surf style. She’s got a little rash guard and a micro-bikini on her bronzed bottom, so I change right away to look just like her and we get right in the water.
But the cowl does not make the monk, as they say.
When I was choosing my bathing suit, I hesitated between a size 38 and a 40, and I chose 40 to make absolutely sure, oh the horror!!! that it wouldn’t look too tight. #Ihatetightclothes. BIG, HUGE MISTAKE.
With every wave, I lose my swimsuit bottoms.
Not easy learning to surf with your bare ass in the air, I tell you. I make a few surfers happy, but I’m not feeling so great myself.
Day 2, and style’s already lost. And it’s only 8:17 in the morning.
I take a shower, or something like that.
The thing about going surfing three times a day is that you don’t really know when to take a shower anymore. Should you take one before surfing? After surfing? During surfing? In the evening after you’re all done?
Yes and no. It doesn’t work like that here — “evening” is at 5:30, right when the sun is setting. People bring beers to the beach for the after-surf party*****, and then everyone goes straight to dinner, then they hang out at the skate park****** and at 9PM, you’re so tired you go to sleep with your clothes on, still salty from the day. Then you get up at 6AM to go surfing.
Nobody takes a shower before surfing, as far as I know.
By Day 3, I understood that the idea was just to “rinse off when I could.”
As for my “white” theme, it was continuing on its highway to success.
Every time I put on a clean t-shirt, someone on a motorcycle rides by, waving at me (people are so nice here), and covering me with a thick layer of dust. I’m not giving up yet, but let’s just say my stock of clean outfits is disappearing right before my eyes.
Let’s talk about my hair, shall we?
Hair isn’t easy at the beach.
Short hair isn’t very easy at all at the beach.
Short, curly hair is horrible at the beach.
A sort of compact nest forms on my head and I try to ignore it by pinning whatever I can behind my ears. Sometimes I wear a turban, but #too_hot.
I make a few more attempts at washing my hair to keep it looking somewhat human, but the more I wash it, the curlier it gets. Shoot, pfff. Oooooh but who cares.
I decide to forget shampoo exists. Salt will do the job just fine.
We’re going on a boat ride, the perfect time to bring out my white blouse.
Perfect for protecting me from the sun and staying fresh, the girl’s totally in control, I love it.
People compliment me. We get on the four-wheeler to go to the boat and that’s when a cloud of dust rises up and never leaves for half an hour, oh, except for when we get sprayed by a gardener passing by who waves at us (people are so nice here) and sprays us with his hose. At the time, it feels so fresh and alive.
When we get off the four-wheeler, we’re totally red with dust from head to toe.
And thanks to the gardener, the dust is perfectly soaked into our clothes, and my white “I totally know what I’m doing” blouse is lost forever.
Oh, by the way. That blouse was my last clean item of clothing. Everything else is covered in dirt and molasses. But the good thing is, it’s Day 5, which is also the day when you stop caring, especially about your appearance.
What’s day cream, again?
You may not care about your appearance, but don’t forget you’re near the equator and it’s kind of like surfing on the surface of the sun during a heat wave.
You have to protect yourself, otherwise you’ll end up with a Valentino tan (they should totally come out with a beauty line) right away.
So you smear on SPF 50 every two hours, and not only is it exhausting, it’s also not super great for your skin, so between the sun and the shock treatment you’re putting it through, my skin starts breaking out big time. Yuck.
Fortunately, my hair starts to come back to life, and it looks beautiful. I’ve got some blonde highlights and my locks now have the consistency of clay—super practical for creating nice hairstyles and impressing friends with “look, I can write your name with strands of my hair!”
Nothing’s going right anymore. The damage is done.
By Day 7, you basically just pick up the first thing you find on the ground and put it on.
You take a shower wherever and whenever you feel like it. At the surf shop when you’re returning your board in the evening, for example.
I try to trick the enemy******* and wash my clothes by bathing in them, but nothing will make the dust go away, so I happily give up the idea of being clean. And when all else fails, I rediscover the art of the pareo I learned in Bali.
Sometimes I go crazy and put on mascara.
Ahahahahah, lol. I love it.
These are the moments when I try to get back some semblance of my human form.
I maybe forgot to mention, but to add to the joyfully alarming state of my appearance, my eyes are swollen. My eyes are suffering from all the salt and sunscreen that’s been running into them every time I get in the water. Chronic conjunctivitis? Yeah, baby. So sexy.
But even so, sometimes I get the urge to grab my tube of mascara and put some on.
The result is cute for about two seconds.
Until the next random shower, in fact. That’s when the mascara runs everywhere and since I forgot I put it on in the first place, I look like a panda until I run into a kind soul who lets me know something’s going on with my eyes.
I don’t really know who I am anymore, and I don’t even mind—not one bit.
I abandoned my clothes, my mascara, my shampoo, and I didn’t even tell you about the state my nails were in, but I think you can probably imagine—and well, obviously, I haven’t looked at myself in a mirror in ten days.
Well maybe that’s what a vacation is for a fashion girl.
I take a big trash bag and put all my clothes in it. They’re all the same color – reddish brown. It’s pretty, actually.
When it’s time to leave, it hits me.
I think to myself that actually, my Lolo was right. Next time I won’t take anything. I’ll do a mega fashion detox from day one. A pair of flip flops, a tunic, a pareo, and that’s it.
That doesn’t stop me from thinking about the luxurious bath with perfumed body scrubs that I’m going to take when I get back, though. And the appointment I’ll be making with my hair stylist the very next day.
What happens in Costa Rica stays in Costa Rica.
* Which is never, thanks to my SPF 587564
** Which is never in Costa Rica at Christmas.
*** I don’t even want to think about the suitcases of the blogger girls who post their outfits every day on their blogs.
**** Ok, fine, now that I think about it, totally stupid idea.
***** I mean, it sounds cool when you put it like that, but refer to my post last week for a more precise definition of the “after-surf” party
****** Yoohoo, it’s me GaGa!!! I’m a teenager again!
******* Actually, there is no enemy: no one even cares about style and everyone is pretty much as dusty as the next person.
Translated by Andrea Perdue