As you know, I was recently invited to do a talk on Alternative Ageing in Montenegro, at the Age of Happiness Festival, where I was lucky enough to meet and befriend the super Sarah Jane Adams, otherwise known as Saramai a fabulous looking woman who has over 43 thousand followers worldwide on Instagram, from 18 to 80 year olds, all of whom love her style and her hair! She was the only person at our conference who always looked stylish, individual & amazing, no matter what the weather. Every single day! No wonder she has so many followers! So when we got stuck at Belgrade airport together it seemed only natural to do an interview and ask for her tips on packing & how to look and stay cool while travelling. Hope you enjoy.
IN THE STREETS OF MONTENEGRO + FAB PHOTO BY ADVANCED STYLE TAKEN IN THE LOCAL CAR PARK IN BUDVA.
SO HOW DO YOU FEEL ABUT THIS NEW FOUND FAME ON INSTAGRAM?
Sarah is a lovely self-deprecating soul and is as bemused about her 43k followers as the rest of us are envious! Her "real" job is as a jeweller. All her life she's worked with jewels, bought antique jewellery all over the world, designed pieces and sold her treasures. She lives and breathes jewellery. Up to the day that changed her social media life she was simply posting shots of her jewellery as @sarmaijewels on Instagram, not what she was wearing, .
Her style is her own and she has always worn what some would call "hippie" and others, like me, would call "boho chic". Often picked up on her jewellery buying trips, her clothes are much the same as she wore as a youngster, growing up & working in London before making her home in Sydney.
SARAH DEVLEOPED HER OWN STYLE AS A YOUNGSTER & SHE STILL WEARS SOME OF THE CLOTHES SHE HAD AS AN 18 YEAR OLD!
HOW DID IT START? HOW DID YOU BECOME SOMETHING OF A STYLE ICON?
Her life changed one day just over a year ago when she put on one of her favourite original Adidas jackets along with one of her vintage skirts. Her family made " smart Alec" remarks about her outfit so she got her husband to take this shot. Her expression says it all: she doesn't give a flying fig what people think of her look!
And the rest, as they say, is history! Her daughter posted the photo on Instagram, tagging Advanced Style and Adidas. and, literally overnight, her 'phone went so bonkers she thought there was something wrong with it! From 42 followers to 800+ overnight! The man behind Advanced Style, Ari Seth Cohen, picked up on it & took more photos of her on his last day in Australia. After his blog & Adidas picking up on this now legendary shot, Sarah's followers grew to 4,000 in just a few days and, like an express train, it just hasn't stopped.
HOW HAS YOUR LIFE CHANGED SINCE THEN?
Sarah has always travelled all over the world for adventure and for jewellery buying but since her new found Instagram fame she now combines it with sharing posts of what she's wearing that day, usually photographed by her talented husband, and is busy doing interviews, photo shoots & videos wherever she goes. She is now very much a social media celebrity. A description she would hate, but one that oldies & youngsters alike can only feel inspired by.
When I met Sarah she had spent summer in England & Sydney, Autumn in New York & Montenegro, and is now in India. She calls herself a gypsy and lives out of a suitcase most of the year. Four countries in two months all with very different cultures, climate and a luggage weight limit of only 22kg, including her husband's clothes! How on earth does she do it?
HOW DO YOU CHOOSE WHAT TO TAKE ON YOUR LONG TRIPS AWAY?
"The aim of a good pack is to use everything and need nothing," she says. She starts with the four C's: climate, culture, comfort and co-ordination. She says she decides on a colour base first. For example, in Montenegro, she went for pink, red & orange as they are from the same family. She agrees with me that nature clashes, so why shouldn't we? " Look at a flower, look at India, it all works there. Although it's crazy it's still co-ordinated," she adds.
WHAT DO YOU TRAVEL IN?
"I take about 30 light pieces in the suitcase so wear the heaviest things for travelling," she says. I actually witnessed her take her Adidas leggings off from under her heavy Indian skirt (which she has had forever) gradually stripping off as it got warmer. And she does this in reverse if going somewhere colder. Genius!
As you can see, apart from the colourful pieces that she's bought in places like India , she's an Adidas girl through and through. For some strange reason, modern Adidas seems to work with eclectic Asian very well indeed.
WHY ADIDAS & HOW ON EARTH DO YOU FIT ALL THOSE BIG SHOES INTO YOUR CASE?
"Why do I love Adidas? Because they're comfy and 'cool.' " She only takes 3 pairs of Adidas shoes: one high top, one wings and one flat pair. I for one agree, I can't do uncomfortable, especially travelling, but would never be able to carry off looking as 'cool' as Sarah in trainers!
WHAT OTHER TIPS CAN YOU PASS ON FOR A GOOD PACK?
"Layers, it's all about the layers. I don't do bare arms & rarely bare legs. So I have lots of thin thermal type long sleeved tops, loads of scarves, belts and leggings and only wear natural fibres like cotton and silk as they keep you cool or warm wherever you are. I just think out of the box and see what I can do with everything I pack so I can get more use out of my stuff. For example, I might wear leggings round my head as a scarf, or a dress round my head as a wrap! I wear things the wrong way round or underneath instead of on top," she adds.
And in case you think this woman shops till she drops, you'd be wrong. A lot of her clothes, especially her gorgeous skirts from Rajasthan, have been with her since the 70's and 80's and she still gets plenty of wear out of them. Jazzed up with an Adidas jacket & trainers or an Indian top it's not a look for everyone, but it certainly works on Sarah.
SURELY YOU SHOP WHEN YOU ARE TRAVELLING?
"I HATE shopping for clothes, most of my shopping when I travel is for jewellery. But I do like a flea market and am very influenced by local dress and custom in places like India", she says.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE AWFUL WEATHER YOU MIGHT GET IN PLACES LIKE NYC OR LONDON? IT'S HARD TO LOOK GREAT IN THE RAIN
"I just cover myself with scarves and more layers! " Great advice that we can all take with us next time we're packing. Pack lots of leggings & scarves is my new mantra.
ANY FINAL TIPS?
"Yes, think out of the box, use pieces any different way you can, and don't take a belt with a miniature gun decorated on it! I nearly missed my flight from Australia to NYC because of this buckle, it really kicked things off in Security!"
I know Sarah's individual style might not be to everyone's taste but I LOVE her look and it really suits her. She doesn't give a damn about how old she is and what or what not she should be wearing at her age. She termed the #mywrinklesaremystripes to get pushy sales people off her back trying to sell her something to make her look younger. Us over 60s could certainly take a couple of leaves out of her book.
Great advice from a great woman! Thank you Sarah, may your path continue in a stylish, fun & adventurous direction and may our paths cross again somewhere on this planet!