Chiara of the Blonde Salad blog, wearing Missoni
Part of the reason for my new interest in shopping has to do with our move to Italy (still in the “someday” stage). While California appears to be fashion-conscious, it really does have a casual anything goes vibe that makes it easy to ignore trends. That’s why I am a little obsess about upgrading my wardrobe right now. I aspire to land in Italy with a preppie, casual California style that is unique yet not horribly off-trend in the land of Missoni, Marni and Armani. Yes, my plan for moving right now consists of shopping for clothing…I do plan to hold off on shoe-shopping til I cross the pond. I’m not that insane.
While I have visited Italy many times, my perception of Italian style is limited. It will be interesting to see if my ideas change once I actually live there. Right now, I am inclined to think that Italian style does not come cheap. However, there are ways to mimic Italian style on a budget.
Real-life Italian style is also about the elegant, finishing touches and how you put it together. Even if you don’t have a huge bank account, you can mimic Italian style with smart choices, creativity and attention to detail. When I think of quintessential Italian style, I remember a woman I saw in Parma — she was riding her bike along the cobblestone streets, her long brown hair waving behind her. Her outfit was simple and elegant — elegant slim black pants, black flats, and a crisp white buttoned shirt — what caught my eye and made the outfit was the finishing touch: a long double/triple strands of pearls that carelessly caressed her neck. It’s the small touches that complete an outfit.
Tailoring is key. This is common advice in any fashion magazine. However, Italians seem to take this seriously and you see the evidence of it especially among the well-dressed men. Overall, tailoring is an inexpensive way to take your style to a higher level. Note: If you’re new to my site, I’m referring to native Italians, not the Jersey Shore stereotype of Italians.
Spend more on a few classic pieces and spend less on trendy items. In general, Italians are more trend-conscious than Americans. That’s because when something becomes popular in Italy, everyone from young to old (male and female) seem to be aware of it. If a trend isn’t gender-specific (say, a certain way to tie your scarf or a certain color), it really appears to be EVERYWHERE. Obviously if you are following trends, it can get hard on the budget. However, a good rule of thumb is to never spend too much on popular trends. As much as you love the current trend, it somehow always look outdated the next year. For example, a few years ago the color lavendar was super trendy in Italy. A budget-conscious Italian friend bought a pretty lavendar scarf and wore it all season. Fashionable and smart!
Appearances are important. In L.A., you can get away with going out in your sweatpants. Hey, it’s even a badge of honor to wear fashionable yoga outfits around town. In Italy, attire is definitely more formal. In other words, even if you’re picking up cigarettes at the corner tabacchi, you don’t want to look like a bum. This isn’t cheap because it means you have to have nice casual clothes along with work clothes.
My husband reminds me that it’s better to maintain your individual style rather than follow the herd. I completely agree. Even if I adapt my style somewhat to Italian trends, I think that no matter where I end up, I’ll always have my own California style.