Girl, Interrupted: What to Wear When Couchsurfing

Let’s do a 180 from last week to talk about this dire situation I’m in. See, things in my life are in a bit of upheaval at the moment, and as such, I find myself temporarily without a home base. Which brings about an interesting challenge: how to be a fashionable person, or at least a reasonably clean, decently dressed person, who’s living out of a suitcase.

Kiki had a great post about vacation-dressing, but I’m talking more about the times when you’re shoving things into a duffle bag and you’re not sure how long they need to last you. This has actually happened to me a couple of times, due to this breakup or that apartment falling through or whatever calamity has befallen me. It tends to be a fantastic exercise in sartorial restraint, a time when your practical nature kicks in and you find out what your essentials are.

(And yeah, I realize this is a ridiculous thing to say, when in reality I don’t need more than a couple T-shirts and a pair of jeans, but honestly I’m not that desperate yet, thank goodness.)

My hero of suitcase living isn’t a confirmed suitcase-liver, but an assumed one.


Don't fuck with her. She might be nuts. Attractive nuts, though.


Winona Ryder as Susana Kaysen in Girl, Interrupted totally was not planning to stay in the asylum as long as she had to. She thought this was just, like, a momentary thing that she could leave anytime. So clearly she’s making do with a couple perfect striped tees, some nicely menswear-inspired overcoats, and excellently fitted trousers.


Don't roll your eyes. You look amazing.


So thoughtful, and so nicely tailored.


Let's just not talk about the tragedy that is Jared Leto, okay? Such potential gone horribly, horribly wrong. Focus on the blazer.


In case you doubted that she had the best striped shirt of all time.


Another good source for suitcase-living inspiration? Road trip movies. My favorite movie of all time, David Lynch’s trashy-trippy Wizard of Oz-themed epic Wild At Heart, features excellent style from both main characters (“My snakeskin jacket! Did I ever tell you that this jacket represents my individuality and my belief in personal freedom?”) but Laura Dern’s Lula is especially impressive. Her entire suitcase seems to consist of stretchy dresses, lacy leggings, and random pieces of leather to sort-of-cover her naughty bits. She brings these outfits to go on the run with her recently paroled outlaw boyfriend who is being chased by hitmen hired by her mother. Yeah.


Hot pink is best paired with an intimidating stare and a Nicolas Cage.


This dress is AMAZING but it's seriously impossible to find a picture of it that's not also a makeout picture.


In this photo Lula is wearing a leather bra with lace leggings over a hot pink thong. She puts nothing else on, and proceeds to go dance to heavy metal.


How many pairs of lace leggings did she bring, for goodness sake? Was she preparing for the inevitable running that would occur in them?


Of course, I can’t really dress like Lula during my couchsurfing adventure. First of all, I have to go to work without being arrested for indecent exposure. Also, it’s freaking cold in San Francisco, unlike summer in New Orleans and Texas, and lace leggings with a leather bra are not going to keep me warm. I might need to find something more like this:


A cloak would double as a blanket in a time of crisis. And I would like the sword too, actually.


For right now, I’m relying on a couple dresses and the kindness of strangers.


About Sloane Martin

Sloane Martin is a writer, reader, collage-maker and used clothing store worker in San Francisco. She collects wide-brimmed hats, ankle boots, leather jackets and bolo ties. Lately she's been going for an urban cowgirl kind of thing, but less costume-y than what you're picturing. She gets really excited about good breakfast foods, Japanese whisky, and making lists (she's a Libra, obviously.) Sloane was once told that the children's book Eloise explained a lot about her, and she doesn't disagree. 


  1. lori

    I think we were separated at birth. Girl, Interrupted is one of my fave books & movies evar, AND the #1 piece I crave for spring is a long-sleeved striped tee. Plus, I basically live out of my backpack for half the week, so. Priceless advice.

  2. Another good “sexy on the road” movie – True Romance!

    • Sloane Martin

      Oh my gosh- I was totally going to do True Romance! But then I thought, “Sloane, you should stick with one trashy-tacky early Nineties fashion icon at a time. Everyone’s going to think you secretly want to wear neon fishnets all the time.” Which, while true, is a little embarrassing.

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