This year, the whole of Europe is paying homage to the world leader in style and fashion: Italy. London’s V&A museum is holding an exhibition dedicated to showcasing five decades of fashion and Europe’s biggest department store, KaDeWe in Berlin, opened “Studio Italia” – a promotion of traditional Italian brands, from household to high fashion.
Let’s have a look at the Italians’ style secrets:
1. To exclaim ‘Bello’ 5 times a day
Even Milanese greengrocery sellers know about the latest trends in fashion. They may not know the latest designer in fashion, but they do have an opinion on Armani. Fashion is a national treasure in Italy. Italians simply adore everything beautiful, ‘bello’. It is impossible to go for a walk with an Italian without her/ him exclaiming ‘bello’ at least three times. This can be an especially beautiful palazzo, a blooming tree or a window decoration. Italian eyes are trained to spot the visually appealing, and this is one reason why Italians can pull a beautiful scarf from a big pile of nondescript rags in a market or from a cheap beach merchant.
2. To have ‘Stravaganza’
Many people are well dressed. Only few are very well dressed. In Italy, the latter is disproportionally high. Why is that? With time, Italians develop their signature look. This might be wearing exclusively pencil skirts or the same shoe type which they own in all colours of the rainbow. They are not really that eccentric, but they know what suits them and they stick with it. A certain repetive “boringness” can be a virtue when it comes to one’s fashion signature.
I love gingham / Vichy. I own many dresses, trousers, tops and a playsuit with the whimsical geometric pattern. It suits me so why should I not wear it in all ways? 🙂
3. Going to the ‘Satro’
Trends come and go. So do shapes. What does an Italian woman do when the latest fashion dictates Empire style dresses, that don’t really suit her body shape? She will stay relaxed since she knows what suits her. All she needs to survive the season is a beautiful fabric and a visit to her husband’s satro (dressmaker) to tailor that beautifully cut dress in a new season fabric, but to a style shows her figure off best. Bellisima! (and not necessarily an economical option!).
4. Getting a tan
We live in a time where even mediterreanean skinned ladies shy away from the sun like the devil from the holy water! Italians on the other hand love grilling themselves on one of their beautiful beaches to get a golden brown tan. After all, they know that all colours, from black to white, look better on a golden canvas.
Salvatore Ferragamo and Audrey Hepburn
5. Not being afraid of ‘troppo’
Italians are never afraid of “too much” – troppo. Take German women for example: They dress very stubtly, their trademark is understatement and practicality. God forbid they ever stick out from the crowd. For accessories, German woman prefer to wear a simple banded ring or a tiny heart on a delicate necklace. Italian women love golden statement jewellery. Think huge chandelier earrings and chunky ghetto necklaces. For them, every day is a special occasion to get dressed up. There’s no such thing as “troppo”, especially in a glitzy arena like Porto Cervo in Sardinia.
Opulent statement earrings and big go-to-hell shades
6. Loving the classics
Sometimes, classic fashion items can be intimidating as they are, well classic and timeless. Some ladies are afraid of looking like Mr Gadget in a trench coat or like Princess Diana in 1992 in classic Tods loafers. Italians are not afraid of classics and loving mixing them up with modern pieces for a new lease on life. A trench coat combined with bare legs or Tods loafers paired with shorts are a classic example of this phenomenon.
Rebel pairing a classic trench coat with distressed denim and open toe sandals.
7. Wearing shades
Sunglasses aren’t merely a practicality to shield the eyes from the sun. For Italians, sunnies are the icing on the cake of every outfit. Whether it’s snowing, raining or the halogen lights at Zara are too bright, the shades sit tightly on the Roman nose. They can be extravagant too, mirrored ray bans can be seen on 16 year old as well as on 84 year old stylish ladies.
8. Loving ‘La Borsa’
No other woman wears her handbag with as much grandezza as the Italian donna. They lovingly treat their finely crafted bag with care, having spent many Euros for a bag from one of the artisanal, family owned bag designers such as Fendi. Thoughtlessly throwing the handbag onto the floor, or treating it as a basic commodity? Shock, horror! Unthinkable for the Italian women who are proud of their country and it’s long tradition in leather goods.
A piece of art or a handbag? Floral embossed bag from Dolce & Gabbana.