Where am I?


Author: Noel Hemphill

Studying abroad has turned out to be one of the best choices I’ve ever made. I think this is due, in large part, by making the decision to study in Brighton, England at the University of Sussex.

Across the pond on the Southern coast of Great Britain lies the adorable and old town of Brighton. About an hour train ride away from busy, buzzing London, Brighton is different from anywhere I have ever been before. Brighton has managed to combine the charm of old European lanes, vibrancy of modern nightlife, and the friendly vibe of a beach front town into a diverse, pleasant city on the Atlantic Ocean. People here have been incredibly kind and genuine, with none of the stereotypical “English Coldness” coming across at all. I have found here a city that has been simultaneously frozen in time yet inclusive of all life’s needs.

Let me paint you a picture. Imagine walking around Regency Square, where the grey-blue sea is in front of you and pastel colored bed and breakfasts behind you, each one with a delicate facade and regal front door. Turn a corner and you are led down into one of the old, cobblestone lanes that hide shops, pubs, and restaurants from the cool chill of the ocean breeze. These lanes are a maze of adorable boutiques and bakeries, weaving you further and further into the heart of the city. Eventually, you hit the high street, where grocery stores, a shopping mall, movie theaters, and cafes’s all align. All these modern conveniences are right in front of you, yet the narrow roads, classic British taxis, and double decker buses remind you that this is a historic town.

When you turn down another road, you find yourself face to face with more shops, and finally, reach the brightly lit Brighton Pier. Boasting an enormous ferris wheel and child friendly rides, the Pier is mesmerizing, all white wood jutting out into the ocean. The smell of fried food and ice cream calls your name, but instead, you choose to walk along the boardwalk, and find intimate nightclubs where you could stick your feet in the sand while sipping a cold drink. It seems odd…but it works.

Brighton is all of this. The weather is crisp, the air is fresh and clean, and you breathe easy knowing people are kind and friendly. It is a stylish city that is more than worthwhile to visit, and certainly worthy of some wardrobe inspiration.

This is why perhaps the best thing about living in Brighton is dressing for Brighton. As I only have one precious term here, I am taking every possible opportunity to dress in a way that will prove to the British that not all Americans are lazy, rumpled messes who wear sweatpants and hole-ridden, pit stained t-shirts. Unlike living in California, I get to bring out some of my favorite heavy-weight sweaters that have far too long been ignored in my home state of Minnesota. Being inspired by your surroundings when you dress yourself is a glorious opportunity, and must be seized. Don’t believe me? Think about if you where lounging on a Hawaiian island. Would you not tuck a flower behind your hair and find a lei to wear? Here, you must do things a little differently. The blustery wind skirting along the boardwalk encourages you to wear knits and corduroy. Your hair whips around your face and your cheeks turn a jovial shade of red. Women: use the autumn weather to the best of your ability, and apply dark, dramatic shades of lipstick and paint your nails blood red. Men: take a cue from the British gentlemen and invest in a coat that is knee length.

Even if you cannot be here in picturesque Brighton, I encourage you to follow the practice of being inspired by your location. Take in the elements, the climate, the feel of the city, and let it guide your wardrobe choices. That way, you will be prepared for the weather and fit right in. Make your location your muse. Donatella Versace, the driving force behind the Versace label, practiced this idea. Between 2004-2006, after completing rehab in Arizona and then vacationing in Palm Springs, Versace revitalized her struggling brand with designs that were subdued, in colors that reflected the landscapes around her. The results were spectacular, and the brand that had fallen with the death of creator Gianni Versace became respected once again. It is a classic case of art imitating life; if it can revive a worldwide brand, imagine the results on your own closet.

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