Before I married my husband I didn’t pay too much attention to fashion. I was a student and happy in thrift store hand-me-downs, mixed with high street latest must-haves. Then, I was a traveller and spent the best part of 18months hanging around beaches in Thai fishing pants and flip flops. My nails were chipped and unpainted. My hair was bleached and crispy from the sun and my lips hadn’t been glossed in months!
Marrying an Italian was a revelation. Having style is like breathing air in Italy. The nation is brought up on “la bella figura” which literally translated means “a good figure”. It’s better understood as “a good image” and of course, Italians love to have a good image!
I had to up my game. I had just married into a country where Valentino designs the police uniforms and the footballers are kitted out by Armarni! Slowly I introduced colour into my wardrobe, I wore nail varnish and make-up and over time, I “Italianised” myself.
Italian fashion is so effortless. When I’m in Italy there’s nothing better than sitting at a cafe in a piazza and watching the world go by. The girls look glamorous and the men look polished. They don’t even try. I make so much more of an effort with my appearance when I’m in Italy. It’s not a case of fitting in but more a case of not standing out!
Here are my top 5 tips for achieving the Italian look, Street Style:
1) Accessories – Italians, male and female, love to match! Never leave home without a bag, necklace and sunglasses. Styles and shapes need to coordinate. If the necklace is small, the ring is huge! There is no age limit on accessories – it’s a cultural norm.
2) Big Hair – Italian women love nothing better than a blow dry. The bigger, the bouncier, the curlier, the better! Looking coiffed is almost a birth right in Italy!
3) Colour – It has to match. Colour coordination is big business. The shoes, the bag, the belt, they all have to complement each other, not necessarily in the same tone but you must accent your outfit.
4) Make-Up – Never EVER leave home without it. If you’re not made up, you have no self respect. Simple as that. Make-up matches the outfit, it finishes you off. Eyes are usually bold and lips soft. Nails and feet must be painted at all times. I don’t think I’ve ever seen my mother in law without varnish!
5) Mess it Up! – Once you’ve done all of the above, mess it up. Don’t look like you’ve worked too hard. You’ve managed the chic, now you need to adopt the style. Street style is huge in Italy when on Saturday’s you’ll find Tewnty-Somethings meandering around the piazza purely to show off their outfit. They’re tailored but trendy, cool but casual.
Italian street style is not about making an effort. It’s about being chic. The women are elegant and feminine whilst the men are suave. Style in Italy comes as easy as eating pasta!
Written by Kelly Ann Schiavo