As you have very likely learned in the last few weeks, we went “home” to Florida for two glorious weeks and spent Christmas over there. I will not even begin to rub it in regarding just how awesome the vacation was (because there will be more posts about that like our trip to SeaWorld and the amazing fact of being able to go swimming on Christmas day and get a sunburn on the beach the day after.) Let me just say that it rocked. Hard.

But there is something that every expat, no matter how long they have been living in a foreign country experiences…and that is the need to shop when they return home.

It used to be that when we went home, I’d be stocking up on things like Ranch dressing or Louisiana Hot Sauce. I have since then learned how to make my own ranch dressing (which is way better than the bottled stuff) and found a source of hot sauce in Germany (hard as that is to believe)…and if I can’t make it or buy it here, I’ve mostly learned to live without. But the one thing that I just cannot substitute or replace while living in Germany are American clothes.

IMO Germans are either way behind in their clothing interests or just not on the same wavelength with the rest of the world…to be honest, I’ve never been very into trends which only last one season so even H&M (my safe haven for clothing) has few things I like. My style is pretty classic (according to this style quiz I’m “classic chic”) and most of the things I like last for years. If you take a look in my closet, you’ll notice that most of my clothes are several years old — and some of my sweaters I’ve had for 15 years (although they are huge baggy things I only wear around the farm to stay warm).

I have actually been working on parting with some of the clothes I bought for working outside the home and now never wear — but if I tossed out everything I rarely wear, I would have about 15 t-shirts, some pants and one suit left. So I have yet to get that radical and instead am just sorta slowly phasing things out as I can when I know I will never wear them again. Like turtle necks, which although practical and warm, get me absolutely no points with my husband. I think there are also some things which I just can’t bear to part with and will be able to work back into my wardrobe one day, perhaps in a new way.

Another reason I like to shop back in the US is because I find German clothes to be insanely priced, especially when it comes to kid’s clothing. I mean really — who wants to pay $25 for a toddler t-shirt that they will either destroy or outgrow in 6 months? And it’s not even name brand.

At any rate, I did a power shopping trip to Marshalls and hit the post-Christmas sales at JC Penny & Old Navy (which were just completely insane BTW). I seriously got more clothing in those trips than I bought in the last 5 years in Germany — for probably half the price. And I was pretty pleased to see that although there was a lot of plus size clothing and “normal” sizes seemed to be creeping upward when I tried to go shopping in the US 3 years ago, things seem to have normalized again. So a medium shirt can no longer be used for a tent and I can’t go into any store in the mall to find clothes that are suitable for pregnant bellies although actually meant for those with a spare tire too early in life.

So what did I buy? Lots of warm weather clothing like hoodies, thermal shirts, sweaters, warm gloves and a hat. Plus a few pairs of jeans, a couple cute USPA polo shirts for myself, flip flops, a super cute long wispy skirt that I have been trying to buy for years, new exercise shoes and some exercise clothing. And the best part is that a major portion of it was 60-75% off. In Germany, you just don’t get those kinds of deals…and if you see them, it’s on clothing you probably don’t want from 1974.

Since this really isn’t a fashion blog, I won’t share my haul photos (although we really should have taken photos of all we bought piled up in the bags and how we managed to fit it in our luggage)…but I am actually working on a new project that would include more style-oriented blog posts. I’d love to know if you think that would be interesting and would like to learn more about me personally behind the scenes of the Homestead. Just let me know in the comments below. 🙂

If you’ve ever lived outside of your home country, what did you miss the most? Or what do you think you just couldn’t live without if you moved away for a while?