Last week we talked about the lack of “personal space” here in Italy and I have to say, it was one of my most popular posts ever, so THANK YOU!
One drawback of being so famous though is that people at work read my blog – and every now and then they pass by my desk to make a comment about the latest article I’ve written. They’re always supportive and think it’s hilarious because they love to know what “gli stranieri” think about them – but whenever they come by I have heart palpitations and break into a cold sweat (I’m the paranoid suspicious sort) as I’m sure that I’ve crossed the line somewhere and offended someone.
So far this has yet to happen (fingers crossed and testicles touched).
This week, I’d like to talk to you about #9.
I’ll tell you now that I haven’t really assigned any sort of order to these things, but Top 10 lists seem to be popular, so I hope that when I finally unveil the 1st item on my list that it will have outranked the other 9 before it…..but I digress….this also means though that I might decide to keep adding to my Top 10 list as time goes on. Who knows? Maybe something that I find charming now is really something that I’ve successfully created a defence mechanism for. I love red tape! The more hurdles I have to jump over, the more I’ll appreciate reaching my goal at the end!
So, without further adieu – number 9 in my 10 Things You’ll Have to Suck Up If You Want to Live in Italy
#9 – You are what you dress.
Quick disclaimer. As I’ve alluded to here (link to What to Wear) I’m not the most stylish or fashionable person that Canada has produced in the last 150 years or so.
I either really, REALLY like what my mother-in-law or Alessio’s aunts are wearing, or find the clothing of my husband’s 17 year old cousin just perfect; for me. I’ve walked into clothing stores to look around where something has caught my eye to notice that everyone is over 70 years old, even the sales clerks. OK, and full disclosure, I once worked at an Alia store (for those unfamiliar, have you ever noticed that EVERY older woman has a type of “uniform”? Elastic waist pants in varying colours, with a matching short sleeved blouse in diverse garish floral patterns? I worked THERE).
I never feel like I’m wearing the right thing to any event, ever.
I’m a huge fan of LuLulemon (and if you’re listening, Lulu, I DO take articles, gift cards, sport bras, yoga mats, or ANYTHING else that you’ve got to write favourable reviews – contact me here!) and have gradually seen the use of my “BC uniform” diminish with time.
Thankfully though, in the past 6 years a clothing “movement” has been taking place where the “casual clothes” that all North Americans know and love are gradually being adopted here. In Italian style of course. High heeled sneakers (Hogan of course) with a velour tracksuit is a starting place, right?
We went to a wedding a few years ago and I wore black dress pants with a black “cami” (lace on top and everything!) with a silk silver wrap and black open toe high heels. Sounds classy, right?
I was the least elegantly dressed person there! The women were wearing dresses that you would expect to see at The Inaugural Ball. The villa was full of sweeping floor length gowns and perfectly accessorized “LBD”’s and jewel toned cocktail dresses. I felt like I had just walked in wearing gum boots and a sweat stained wife beater.
I spent the entire time feeling like something just wasn’t quite right.
Then again, maybe this doesn’t apply to you at all.
Maybe you know how to wear an infinity scarf so it looks “cool” and like you’ve been doing it for ages and not like “some of us” who fiddle with it constantly adjusting it this way and that to get it perfect only to decide later at home that you don’t like it that much anyway and maybe you’ll just put it away in your huge box full of scarves.
The Italian population are so well known for being stylish (what famous designer isn’t Italian?) that one of the most popular questions on any travel forum is “what should I bring to wear in Italy?”
Don’t bother. Bring comfortable clothes, a nice outfit that YOU feel comfortable in, and be done with it.
Italians can recognize a straniera like Canadians can sniff out a Timmy’s.
You’ll just have to resign yourself to always feeling a little out of place. But that’s OK. We don’t all want to be the same now, do we?