There are five things I really like to do on vacation: eat local specialties, hang out with people, get drunk, walk around looking at things and shop for accessories. (I also try to get lucky with a local, if I’m single.)
I usually don’t bother shopping for clothes unless I’m visiting an area that has a lot of stylish fat people, which rules out most of the world. But shoes and jewelry almost always fit, and I have fun vacation memories every time I wear them!
I was extremely excited to go to Denmark this summer, because it was pretty much an extravagant excuse to buy shoes. As a vain person with incredibly fucked up feet (as a result of wearing pretty, impractical shoes), I am currently a fan of stylish-yet-comfy brands like Dansko, Kalsø Earth Shoes and Ecco (all three companies have Danish roots, though Ecco is the only brand still based in Europe).
The strap on my walking shoes broke on the second day of my vacation (my temporary crown also fell out while eating licorice, never travel during mercury retrograde), so it was like the universe was giving me its blessing to buy new shoes!
I got these incredibly awesome purple shoes made by the Danish company Green Comfort at a tiny mom and pop shop next to Copenhagen City Hall. (I would have bought three pairs if my US credit card had worked with their machine -- make sure your bank gives you a 5-digit credit card “pin” before you go to Europe!)
There were also a plethora of Claire’s-type cheapo accessory shops. I got these fabulous snake earrings at a shop called “Glitter” in Copenhagen station. I feel like a sexy villain when I wear them, because they look like something Cruella de Vil might own.
One of the best things about shopping in Denmark were these signs in shop windows:
I also scored this red velvet poppy hair clip at a shop on the Strøget, the longest pedestrian shopping street in Europe. I used it to fancy up a fascinator I got at Claire’s around Halloween and wore it to a Steampunk-themed high tea in Chicago a month later, paired with a tiered red glass beaded necklace I found at a street market in Thailand when I was 23.
My international accessory obsession probably started over the course of the four years I lived in Japan (I couldn’t do any clothes shopping there, so I had to compensate in other ways). In 2000, I was a 20-year-old exchange student in Tokyo, shooting a documentary on Japanese Street Fashion.
I spent a big chunk of my scholarship money on an uber gothic, crucifix adorned briefcase that found at a Harajuku boutique (I sold it on eBay five years later for more money that I initially paid for it, and kind of wish I hadn’t.)
I’ve given away a lot of my Japanese swag over the years because cherry barrettes and rhinestone skull necklaces just aren’t my thing anymore, but I will never get rid of this hat, because it is the coolest damn thing ever (and I don’t even like wearing hats!!!)
My friend’s Elizabeth’s dad had given her $300 to buy hats as a gift for some stylish lady he was wooing, and we found this gem for $50 at a boutique in Kyoto. We took our bag of hats and went to Karaoke, playing hat dress-up while we belted out Eminem and Bee Gees songs.
I fell in love with this satin embroidered skeleton geisha biker cap, and Elizabeth told me to keep it. I believe that this hat and I are destined to be together, because one time I forgot it at a party and the person who found it HUNTED ME DOWN AND GAVE IT BACK TO ME. That’s accessory karma, my friends.
And perhaps the most significant accessory I’ve held onto from my Japan years is this:
I had this tattoo of a camellia flower done at Cat’s Claw Tattoo in Kyoto one week before I left Japan for good. (Visiting hot springs is a national obsession, and they don’t let you go into the water if you have tattoos because of the Yakuza, so I waited).
It wasn’t until the day of my appointment that the artist told me that the Japanese consider camellias a bad luck symbol because it represented beheading in Samurai times. He reassured me I was being a total devil may care badass by having it tattooed directly below my neck. Well, it turned out pretty, and I haven’t been decapitated…yet…
The best part of buying sassy accessories on vacation is when biters try to jack your fashion steez by asking you where you bought something, you can be a pretentious jerk and rattle off the name of some obscure shop in a Luxembourg or Kathmandu. OH SNAP! Then again you could just buy stuff at your local H&M or Topshop, lie and say you got it in Helsinki or London, and who’s to know better?
What’s your favorite accessory, and/or souvenir you purchased on a trip? Tell me in the comments!