On her blog, Bleu Avenue, ModCloth lover Leandra shares her adventures as a fashionable gal living with her family in Japan. Between her accounts of gorgeous gardens and cat cafes, this snazzy mom offers up advice and inspo for body-celebrating style. Community Specialist Bridget reached out to Leandra to get the scoop on life abroad — check out her Q&A and beautiful photos, then let us know what globetrotting trips you’re planning for yourself!
Your blog talks about your life as an American mom living in Japan. What has been the most rewarding part of having a family while living overseas?
I did a lot of traveling when I was a fresh-faced college kid. I’ve seen some of the most amazing places in the world. There was always a twinge of regret when the kids and I would sit down to look at photos of my trips, because I wished that they could have been there and we could have seen those things together. My husband and I decided that if the chance to travel or live overseas ever presented itself again, we would definitely take it. It’s different this time around, having all my loved ones with me. The adventures and the experiences are just as exciting, but so much more meaningful.
What is your favorite place that you’ve visited with your family in Japan?
Japan is full of fantastic and unusual places to visit. If I had to choose a favorite it would probably be the area around Mt. Fuji. It sits in the middle of five lakes and is surrounded by farmlands and dense forests [such as] Aokigahara, the Sea of Trees. This peaceful woodland has sprung up from the lava flow — you can still see the ripples of the lava on the ground. It’s such a stark contrast to the busy bustle of the cities. Plus, there’s hiking on the mountain, plenty of farms for berry picking, and the onsens (hotels with hot springs) for relaxing.
How has living in Japan and traveling the world influenced your personal style?
I used to think there was “dressing up” and “dressing practically” and that those two things didn’t mix. But living here has shown me that’s not the case. I decided that with so much public transportation available, I could forego driving while we’re here. I walk several miles a day in all kinds of weather. At first, blisters made wearing anything but sneakers unbearable, and after getting caught in a few strong breezes I pretty much gave up on wearing dresses. When I would stand at the train station, I would look around and think, “the women here are walking just as much as me, if not more, and still dressed to the nines, so what am I missing?” I eventually noticed that everyone had on no-show socks (except here they do show and can be pretty fancy, since they’re thought of as more of an accessory) and shorts or leggings with their skirts. Ah, ha! The balance between dressing up and dressing practically. Now I never leave home without some cute no-show socks and tights or leggings in my bag, just in case.
You’ve written about struggling to accept and dress your body. Now fashion is central to your lifestyle. What advice would you give to other women striving to embrace their bodies and style?
I struggled with my weight for a long time, and I thought that if I could just reach a certain size, I would finally love the way that I looked. When at long last I reached that magic number, I realized that I still had the same shape. And that meant all the same challenges finding clothes, just in a different size. Big or small, I have curves, and I decided to stop blaming my body and learn to dress my shape. And now that I’ve figured out what looks best on me, I really love my shape even when the size changes.
+ Where do you most want to travel? Have you ever lived abroad? Share your stories below!