How to Suck at Finding a Sartorial-Self (Part 2)

More scribbles on my relationship with clothes today and if you haven’t read the previous part yet, it’s here:

So let’s dive into the influence of culture and travel on defining our personal style and how we build our wardrobe. From my experience, travel purchases (often on impulse) are the most successful ones because they are unexpected findings and there is a sense of reminiscence of good memories associated with them as well as a story to tell. Care to know my recount on my last buys from France and South Korea?  (Get ready, here comes another lengthy post… but more visuals this time)

When I was in France last September, I purchased the Masscob la Coruna tweed jacket you may have come across in my previous post (here) and Instagram (here). This Spanish label, unknown to me at the time, I stumble on it while shopping in a small well curated boutique in Orléans, France named Eranova. Shopping in boutiques allows for a different experience than online shopping by being able to discover new designers and by being able to touch the fabric, feel in the moment, and discuss the new found treasures with people in our company. Trying things on, although a relationship with the fitting room can be a whole other topic in itself, can be a new way of seeing ourselves under a different light (not talking about the ugly dim light of the fitting rooms). Honestly, I am not a big partisan of trying clothes in fitting rooms with the mirrors’ altering body effects in a claustrophobic tiny room which explains why I don’t shop in boutiques often but when I make an effort it’s typically when on alone travel or with my mom/sisters.

Masscob Piaf Jacket//Filippa K Linet Trousers//Veja Esplar Sneakers//APC top

When there, I felt an irrational itching need to stand out a bit more by wearing a more eccentric mixed of colors of this outwear (my wardrobe finds a simple navy pea coat, a camel trench, and multiple blazer mostly in navy) so there it is right in front of me urging me to take this baby home. Have I realized how the checked pattern was ever so trendy this season, I would have walked away but the shape and the overall silhouette a bit boxy and masculine by the double breast closure, I could care less about trends and I like this garment to pieces. Love at fist sigh really does exist my friends!!

Masscob Piaf Jacket//APC Trench Packing for Seoul Trip

After a closer look at the pattern, there were running crossing lines of green, red, black, white and yellow no wonder I was mesmerized by the explosion of colors in one piece of clothes indiscernible from an afar looker, so it was a sort of my little secret (not a brown tweed jacket) and a pleasure to pack this beauty on my travels and be its happy wearer. I love the flappy and deep pockets (a must for I don’t carry a handbag often so call me a minimalist to the bone and Silvana @Saisonlune knows this part best). I also enjoy the ‘men’s’ pocket in the interior of the jacket and I wished all women’s outwear could be build the same way. The white cotton lining makes this piece so comfortable to wear and offers enough warmth. And I like to roll up the sleeves to show the contrasting lining but also because it’s cooler that way!

Masscob Piaf Jacket//Filippa K Linet Trousers//Veja Esplar Sneakers//APC Top// Celine Trio Bag

My mom didn’t approve of it initially but after putting it on to show her, she expressed that she was not in favor of the jacket in itself but simply exclaimed that this was me (she meant my style). I like how she does this; the way when she is almost border exasperated by my rebellious side to purposefully provoke her disapproval but then she ought to accept that it’s who and how I am and that she loves me this way hahaha I know I am not the best daughter out there but hey I also love and appreciate that she tries to ‘improve’ or inject some sense of her tailoring perspective in my style and pass well put together outfits onto me (as when I was a child, french mothers deeply care about these things why??!), but I am an adult now (at least I’d like to think that sometimes) and I must find out for myself even if I make mistakes what is me and what suits me best by learning on my own terms (of course keeping in mind her advices is wise). Despite it all,  I still love her even when she is so pushy… (She is even more nagging on my lack of wearing makeup so well that’s another story for another time…).

System Coat//AG Isabelle Jeans//Repetto Camille Shoes//Theory Jumper//Celine Trio Bag
System Coat//Theory Trousers//Theory Jumper//Celine Trio Bag

So here are some elements of my last travel in France that influenced my personal style:

  • The eccentric element: the colorful checked jacket in masculine shape
  • The tailored piece: the sharp suiting separates navy linet Filippa K cropped trousers (read more here). This bottom is unusual to wear for me as the straight legs cut is a bit more oversized style.

Being in Seoul for the first time was quite a unique experience (read more here). There was a perfect blend of modernity and tradition seen not only in architecture and way of life but also on people’s dressing. I spotted countless times familiar pieces like the CdG sweaters on young and old folks as well as the coveted Demi Lune APC bag on so many women shoulders toting around busy streets and subways. My impression of Korean style was that everyone seemed so well put together and chic. But I was also told that they err more on the conservative dressing as formal as business suit attire. So I could see many beautiful silk blouse draped on the Korean’s body paired with A line skirts but no killer stilettos, just humble block or kitten heels and even elegant flats. I am starting to get obsessed with sling backs because of seeing so many cute appeals on them. I was also pleased to see a great blend of casual wear by paring serious tailored outfits with sneakers. I saw many many camel trench and wool coats in oversize shape.

System Coat//AG Isabelle Jeans//Veja Shoes//Theory Jumper//Celine Trio Bag
System Coat//AG Jodi Cropped Jeans//Isabel Marant Deyissa Shoes//Theory Jumper//Celine Trio Bag
System Coat//AG Jodi Cropped Jeans//Chanel Shoes//Theory Jumper//Celine Trio Bag

Women are typically well groomed with cute bobs and a relevant amount of make up. The guys I hung out with said that they didn’t like so much of the superficiality seen there in the amount of make up and dare I say aesthetic surgeries (not so sure how you can tell actually but well…). Besides, I must admit that nights in Gangnam, the party city, women turned into somewhat less sophisticated versions from daytime seen in über short dresses and some with fishnet tights and corsets with flashy handbag logos hmmm I was just laughing at the guys reactions as they were in truth as shocked as I was haha…

System Coat//AG Jodi Cropped Jeans//Isabel Marant Deyissa Shoes//Theory Jumper//Celine Trio Bag
System Coat//AG Jodi Cropped Jeans//Chanel Shoes//System Jumper//Celine Trio Bag
System Coat//AG Jodi Cropped Jeans//Chanel Shoes//System Jumper//Celine Trio Bag

And so before I headed to Incheon Airport, I needed a thing or two from Korean labels as a souvenir but more from the inspiration found in the K-style day time wear I got to please myself with searching for my sartorial soul and with continuing the quest for experimentation… I hit Galleria (not envious but only had less than an hour to spare and boy I loath the department stores so much) where I could find an ample selection of designers then suddenly I came across two lovely and sweet sale associates who really had a sensible eye for the chic things at System. Without much English in our exchanges, I had no idea how we all managed to gather few ‘typical’ stylish Korean style outfits together and I started thinking that clothes and style are so borderless and the language of sartorial is truly universal or maybe I’m just making stuff up haha but regardless they put different clothes on me …

System Coat//AG Jodi Cropped Jeans//Chanel Shoes//System Jumper//Celine Trio Bag
Filippa K Linet Trousers//Veja Esplar Shoes//System Jumper//Celine Trio Bag
System Coat//Filippa K Linet Trousers//Veja Esplar Shoes//System Jumper//Celine Trio Bag

And what now? I spent like over 2 grands on clothes (not so proud of myself seeing that I need to put away more travel budgets et merde for festivals) but I should make the clothes workhorses for me right… so here is how I interpreted and incorporated the Seoul influence on my personal style:

  • The oversized element: a long white coat is according to the sale associates the trend in Korea more than the navy and the camel coat. The color and the shape is definitely outside of my sartorial game so I’m willing to play with this new silhouette. Have I mentioned it was hand made in Korea. The wool is so soft to the touch so I’m so pleased to be wrapped in this coat like a doudou blanket and looking forward to wearing it for more winters to come.
  • The wide leg trousers: this style doesn’t make me comfortable enough to wear as I fear of the saggy look so I opted for a high waisted straight leg trousers but not the habitual skinny fit version. This one is cropped from an exquisite thick Japanese wool quality. It has some interesting hem details that stood out which I am fond of.
  • The comfortable ribbed knits: this olive green is scrumptious and the shape/cut is totally unusual for me. These puffed sleeves yeah such a statement piece but according to the Koreans, it’s a standard item to own so that gets me thinking outside the box a little. The sweater also has interesting cut out sleeve details.
  • The minimalist and monochromatic colors: black, green, and white…
  • The chic footwear: I’d pair my outfits with the French label sneakers from Veja
  • The simple structured bag: Not very original but I’d carry my Celine trio around
Filippa K Linet Trousers//Isabel Marant Deyissa Shoes//System Jumper//Celine Trio Bag
System Trousers//Repetto Camille Shoes//Theory Jumper//Celine Trio Bag
System Coat//System Trousers//Repetto Camille Shoes//Theory Jumper//Celine Trio Bag

I could use some inspiration from the blog Death by Elocution which I rekindled with here and notice some alluding of Phoebe Philophile. I put together a few outfits with your great assistance and care (who needs a personal stylist nowadays haha). Thanks a lot!!! This is one of the many reasons I continue blogging despite my lack of time and what not, it is because of you so thank you again!!!

As you can see in comparison with the part 1 post here of the recount of the dull style rut girl, there is now a happier woman found in these outfits. Paradoxically, my outfits are converging more on the masculine side. But I have the feeling that I am on the path onto something greater to grasp perhaps due to a sense of maturity, self-care began with self-discovery, being fearless with experimenting, as well as evidently embracing the influence of culture and travel on my personal style journey. I feel more at ease in this style, where the shapes are more fluid and the cut is oversize. I feel more comfortable wearing clothes this way where I can freely move.

System Coat//System Trousers//Veja Shoes//APC Top//Straw Bag
System Coat//System Trousers//Veja Shoes//APC Top//Celine Trio Bag
System Coat//System Trousers//Repetto Camille Shoes//APC Top//Straw Bag

And a last note to wrap up this terribly lengthy post, I enjoyed packing lighter and lighter nowadays with just a few pieces of clothes, I can now gather multiple outfits as seen in the pictures you scrolled through and I find this part rather joyful. What do you guys think? Do you like me get influenced by foreign culture and travel? Or do you also feel pressured to follow your mom’s fashion diktat? How do you incorporate these various inspirations into your personal style and shopping? Looking forward to your response!!




PS: Until then, my next coming trip is visiting Arizona’s Antelope Canyons and for the year end break, France evidently but does anyone want to meet up over in Europe (somewhere) because I really last enjoyed meeting many of you guys and cannot wait to write about les rencontres soon. There is vaguely on the plan (as always there are last minutes planning or the lack of), Tel Aviv and some places in Iceland. But for certainty, there is NYE in Japan, which I am so excited about 🙂



  1. eizhowa

    What, you have posted about that tweed jacket (which I have never seen in my life!) before?

    I remember reading some book about how Audrey Hepburn kept her style relevant over the decades (and yet always her own), and it said that every 10 years she would change up the silhouettes to mirror the big changes fashion. The idea was that trends come and go, but every 5-10 years, a larger shift would happen. This idea stuck with me. I think I started wearing skinny jeans in 2005/2006, so I have been phasing them out lately, and made room for other cuts of jeans. My wardrobe now consists of black kick flares in corduroy, cotton and denim, and I can completely see how it made my style fresher, despite the fact that my style identity did not change (which I would define something like this: wool crewnecks, tweed, corduroy, eyelash scarves, velvet, blazers, ballet flats). I stopped dying my hair red 2-3 years ago, and I have now gotten my natural ash blonde hair back, which to be fair, probably adds to the feeling of freshness I am feeling. I have had change up the colors (read: shades of brown) I wear, and I have thoroughly enjoyed wearing the cooler, more muted browns that I did not suit a few years back.

    As an incurable anglophile, it is very difficult to convince me to travel anywhere that is not the UK so I honestly don’t travel as widely as I sometimes wish I did… My anglophilia is definitely reflected in my style though. The love for tweed, my old barbour (which I have re-waxed myself * pats self on back *), the love for 60s-70s velvet rock suits… I have actually realized that my love for “french style” is more subdued than I thought. The realization happened when I noticed I had not owned a breton in years, but had a wardrobe filled with tweed jackets…

    Btw, the Deyissa boots work great with the navy trousers. At least from that angle, the items seems to work very well together, which I guess will be practical for the colder months (assuming you travel/move somewhere with an actual winter, of course. Personally, I would not know what to do with myself if I could not wear big wool scarves almost all year round!).

    Re. meet up: I live on the west coast of Norway, but you absolutely would not want to meet me here. Dullest place on earth, I promise you. We do have an oil museum, though, if you have a fascination with oil that I don’t know about…

    Umh, yeah and don’t feel too bad about those 2 grands spent on clothes. You are not alone…


    1. Sovannary

      Hey! Haha I have not written about the tweed jacket so this is officially the first post but it was shown in a few places (and I added some links, thanks!). On style, as Chanel said “Fashion changes, but style endures.” It is important to pay attention to self-reinvention (including self-development and style for self-expression) and being dans l’air du temps but also to avoid blindly following fashion diktats. Our body, our mind, our desire, our needs, and our views on ourselves evolve and is a good thing, thus paying attention to these will certainly reveal in our choice of clothes (cannot stand skinny jeans anymore!) and how we style ourselves (loving the oversize clothing and minimalist monochromes that allows to express a more mature seriousness). A sensible wardrobe refresher is a great cure to being stuck in a style rut indeed. Hey, on hair coloration when I was a teenage I was dyed blond (what the hell was I thinking?!) but after a dramatic hair loss I kept it natural and heathy.

      Ha Barbour, the British heritage, are you then from Britain living in Norway? But you know Breton tops, beret, and a baguette under the armpit, with a straw basket filled with Camenbert and red wine are not a conglomerate of French Chic haha (although I must admit I am totally guilty of playing a part to this cliché whenever I’m back home). French style is to me a variety of things (like Attitude) and that is why I started a project on French Chic in this blog (Discover menu botton), but need to keep up with it.

      The Deyissa boots definitely belong to the great buys and it goes with everything I own in my closet. It’s that touch of feminine sophistication I longed for without overtly doing too much. They’ll definitely become my staples all year round and indeed I go back to Europe in winters so they will be packed with me for certainty. I love to be wrapped in scarves too but in SD it’s nearly impossible with temperature soaring in the end of October above 30C it’s exasperating!

      Norway has always been on my bucket list by the way. The northern lights!!! And as much as I love the cities, I every now and then need a breath of fresh air and being lost in the wood, mountains, or canyons to feel sane. I did a hike in Palm Springs back in August and planning another in Arizona but Norway is definitely a place on my mind and I love snowboarding too 🙂 And the problem about spending so much $$$ on clothes is that it leaves less room for travel and hobbies, and I love to travel almost every month but I am fortunate enough to afford everything I do so I won’t brag on it too much (hopefully) like a snobbish brat with this ridiculous #blessedlife because unlike some, I earn everything from my own work and do not rely on anyone 😉

      Have a good one and thanks again for sharing your thought dear!!


      1. eizhowa

        Not a drop of english blood in me, sadly (although, perhaps I have some from the viking era, who knows)! My anglophilia stems from reading Harry Potter as a child, watching Monty Python as a teen, seeing Jane Austens Pride & Prejudice in the theatres, falling in love with Oxford at 17… Things like that.

        If you ever need advice on where to travel in Norway, don’t hesitate to ask! I have obviously not been everywhere in my country, but there are a few corners of my country I know fairly well 🙂 I could probably stear you clear of the petrol museums! :S


        1. Sovannary

          Ha nice! And thank you 🙂 Will definitely ping you when I go there and I don’t mind petroleum technologies haha


  2. Lilah

    Love your choices. I think you picked well.


    1. Sovannary

      Thank you Lilah!!


  3. nomadicfille

    Hihi, my study abroad adventures really started a shift in my sartorial identity. I moved away from the bright colors/east coast preppiness to a more somber style. My mother lamented that I came back from France only wearing navy and black (mothers and their well intentioned opinions haha) In retrospect, I feel like my time in South Korea really solidified my style even if I was only there for 2 years as opposed to me going on 4 years in France. 😛 Everything fit perfectly there so I got to try on a lot of different silhouettes that just would have not happened in the US. It’s also a great place to develop a sense of vanity or not be ashamed of it. I’m not surprised you spent 2 grand on clothes because the hand-made stuff is really nice but it’s going to cost you lol. That’s the one thing that got me about SK, the price points really reflected the quality with some exceptions like Uniqlo. Their second-hand designer shopping is really quite good due to how fast trends change there. Back here in France, I still get mistaken for a French person until A) I open my mouth B) It’s summer and I pull out the colorful sundresses and scarves lol C) I’m trying to dress for professional reasons because I developed a more professional style in SK (even in teaching!) that trying to transition to dressy casual is difficult.


    1. Sovannary

      Hey! First of, thanks for sharing your experience 🙂 I like how personal style not only evolves with time but space where it depends on where we live. As you described vividly, the influence of colorful sundresses from the US (personally I love to be wearing colorful and eccentric bohemian style in summer music festivals here), the black & navy from Paris, then the oversize and unusual silhouettes found in Seoul. I believe that traveling and living in different countries as you did and are doing can only enrich us to become people from the human experience but also can bring new perspectives in the search for sartorial soul and the quest for self-identity.

      The price tag on Korean’s clothes is high but indeed the quality hasn’t failed me so far. I am obsessed with wearing my new treasures every day not because of the excitement of new but because of the comforting feelings generated from these pieces of clothes (warm, soft, rich in fabric, and durable) and the silhouettes are so uncommon and chic.

      Haha that is so funny about C) because like you when I started my job, I used to dress more conservatively towards business casual with lots of trousers and blazers, and button up tops where now I am such a failure of casual Fridays when in actuality I have a fun personality but the clothes do not reveal any of it with these stern professional looks. But I understand the difficulties in mixing and finding the balance between being career driven super serious with being super cool fun and approachable while doing so effortlessly chic so what is the secret?!


Share Your Thoughts

%d bloggers like this: