When I started to think about what to pack for my 4-month stay in Armenia, I realized that since I’d be living in Yerevan and not just visiting during the summer, I would have to be a little more cognizant of what I wear since it’s a more conservative society and a much smaller city at that. In LA, I never think twice about what I wear: crop tops, short shorts, miniskirts, plunging necklines — it’s all normal. Of course Armenia has progressed a whole lot in the last decade, but it’s still not a fully open society, especially for women. Working in fashion, I wondered if this sartorial limitation would annoy me. So far it hasn’t been a huge hindrance. The only thing I’ve felt a little shy about wearing are my heavily distressed boyfriend jeans. But since being here, I have noticed lots of women wearing tattered jeans. I’ve also noticed that the style here is much more forward than before. The weather is still nippy so it might get a bit more revealing in the summertime, but I think it also depends on the neighborhood you’re in. In Komitas, where I live, it’s more of a suburban feel versus in the heart of the city, so I wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing my ripped jeans there. Or I wouldn’t wear them while visiting my aunt’s house in Yerevan, whereas I wouldn’t think twice about wearing them to my aunt’s house in LA.
During lunch with some repatriates the other day, this topic came up. One of the girls who has tattoos and a nose piercing said she doesn’t think as much about her edgy look in the city as she did when she lived in Arstakh. That makes sense. If anything, she likes to reveal her art in the city to show close-minded locals that you can indeed be a good and “normal” person even with tattoos. Another friend admitted that crop tops are a definite no, but that short shorts are acceptable, which she found baffling. So far I’ve been wearing almost everything I do in LA, though I did forego an open-back dress on my birthday in fear of looking too risque. As much as I love fashion, I feel it’s a small sacrifice to make in order to reap the other amazing benefits this country has to offer.