This time last year I was blogging for Philadelphia Weekly’s PW Style Blog and picking apart the newest trends on the runways of New York Fashion Week (although, at the time, I was living in a cottage 30 minutes outside Paris, go figure). I started my days by scouring the net for the most up-to-date information about the previous night’s shows and staring at photos of frocks and frills, stilettos and sashes.
One year later, NYFW is a welcome distraction from grading papers and preparing lessons but that’s about it. Don’t get me wrong, I still love fashion, it just no longer holds a leading role in my life due to—well—my living in the jungle. And so, in light of the closing of what I used to refer to as “the most wonderful time of the year” I have decided to give you my current version of Fashion Week by sharing what I wear during a typical week in the jungle. Enjoy!
On Mondays we have our weekly flag ceremony which consists of a 30 minute exercise in the school courtyard including marching, singing Indonesia’s national anthem, reciting the school code of conduct and, of course, raising the flag. The students wear a different uniform than the rest of the week, however the teachers stick to their basic white shirt and dark colored skirt or pants combo.
Tuesday I volunteer part of my day at SLB, an Indonesian school for children with various physical and intellectual impairments. Unlike the international school where I work, SLB doesn’t have air conditioning and so the classrooms can get unbearably hot during the school day. With that in mind, I usually default to my black cotton jumper because it’s much cooler than the polyblend pencil skirts that were issued to me for my uniform. Additionally, since I do a lot more miming and moving around (imagine teaching deaf students English for a moment), the dress is definitely a fashionable yet functional option for me!
Wednesday is batik day. Batik, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, is a traditional Indonesian pattern. The shapes, sizes and colors of the patterns can vary quite a lot from island to island, and even region to region within our fair archipelago making it a great way to show a little regional and national pride. The dress in this photo is considered a fairly modern design and is from my island, Sumatra.
Thursdays just got interesting! What was once just another day of black and white is now one more day of getting to wear something regionally-inspired, which I love. This fall our school celebrated Teacher’s Day and as a gift to all the teachers, provided us with Arabic Malay fabric to be tailored into the garment of our choice. This region, Riau, is steeped in Malay history, and is where the Malay language is said to have originated. We now wear these Malay “uniforms” on Thursdays.
Everybo-day loves Friiiiii-day! Our school participates in casual Friday and on this day it’s free reign (kind of) for students and teachers alike. It’s fun to see my kids wearing things that express their personalities and I think everyone really loves having one day where there isn’t a specific uniform. Depending on the week Friday is either a day for me to put on something comfortable and easy (after a hard week) or a day for me to wear something a little more “fashiony” than what my daily life usually allows.
Saturday and Sunday
As for the weekend, you will generally find me wrapped in one of the many sarongs I now own. My collection includes batik printed fabric purchased in Sumatra and Java as well as some traditional Batak sarongs I purchased in Lake Toba, North Sumatra. I generally spend my weekends around my apartment and so donning the most comfortable and heat/humidity-friendly clothing is definitely the way I go. It’s also the only time you’ll find me in one of my Bali-purchased Bintang tank tops (I figure it’s probably a bit of a faux paux for the first grade English teacher to run around our complex in a shirt endorsing beer). Of course, when I’m not in a sarong mood, yoga attire is equally climate-appropriate and comfortable.