Thursday, September 24, 2009

the myth

When I was preparing for my recent two week trip to Italy, I spent a lot of time thinking about what clothes to bring. I knew I wanted to pack as light as possible, but I also knew that I wanted to look nice. Adding complexity was the fact that our trip would encompass several very different activities - including 4 days of attending the Formula 1 race at Monza - and autumn weather that included some forecast rain.

So, a few things were clear. I needed a raincoat, shoes to walk in, at least one dress, and a nice pair of heels. Beyond that, I felt pretty stuck.

Of course my response was to hit the internet! And somehow I came at it with the expectation of somehow researching what young-ish Italian women wear. And reader, this was where things went badly. The internet told me a few things, and upon arriving in Italy, I had to admit that some of them were pretty much crap. I should have known better about quite a few of them - no nail polish? please.

As you'll see if you crawl the Internet, Italian women are known worldwide for their good sense of style - namely, flattering not only your body but your age and particular look. There's a reason they're known for this, and for the most part the professional women, and those above about 35 stick to the mantras of neutral colors, well made items, natural fibers and an expert fit. But: trends are huge. I'd forgotten just how huge since my last trip. Teenage and 20-ish girls have a uniform of inexpensive pieces right now: lowtop Chucks in white, colors or patterns; tight jeans either grey or heavily distressed, and usually with lots of detailing like extra seams and zippers; a long tunic top layered over a camisole; a wide, heavy belt cinched over the hips; a close-fitting leather, nylon or canvas bomber jacket; dyed black long hair pulled into a high, flat-ironed ponytail with long side swept bangs; plenty of eyeliner. There you go. Add a black and white keffiyeh, an enormous leather handbag with multiple handles, some punches of hot pink and you're set. More? Midcalf suede boot (either tight and with a heel or slouchy and flat), totally flat gladiator sandal, tunic with black leggings.

What I did find useful:
- a simple dress in a solid color
- slim jeans
- cute basic strappy sandals with a heel or at least a wedge (and if you can get one with a little adornment, so much the better)
- classic pumps with a pretty heel
- large, finely woven wool or silk wrap

What I didn't:
- bootcut jeans
- clogs (they're not cool anywhere, but they're really not cool there)
- merino cardigan sweater (really not cool, at all, and an immediate dumpy-maker)

What I wore almost every day:
- a tunic length grey and black striped tshirt-weight cotton cardigan with no closures

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I'm on my last day of a two week trip to Italy... just a quick note to get down a few topics I'd like to write on when I'm back home:

1. The Myth of What Italian Ladies Wear
2. Things I brought that were useful; things I brought that were not
3. How to deal with trains
4. My advice on going to Monza for Formula 1