Tag Archives: style

November 16: From the Land of Bikinis to the Land of Missoni

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.

Fashion Rule #1 : Know Thyself (And A Good Thing About Getting Older)

Right after I posted about needing retail therapy, I browsed online and then went to an actual mall today.  Despite my determination to spend, I ended up empty-handed. Part of it is due to a “too-frugal” mindset.  A bigger part is that I don’t find shopping that much fun anymore.  I tend to have a style/item in mind when I shop, try to stay within budget and generally know what works and what doesn’t, which all comes together to mean I’m SUPER picky.

For example, I found a beautiful gray, short-sleeve shift dress with an interesting yet classic design.  I’m trying to update my work wardrobe for summer and this would be a nice addition to any closet.  It was about $90 on sale, a bit on the high side for me.  The main problem was:  I don’t like to wear sleeveless dresses to work and covering it up with a cardigan just ruins the look for me.  Basically, if I had purchased it (as I might have in my younger days), it would end up hanging in my closet where I would look and admire it from time to time. 

This happened several times today (and often in general). I saw a striped dress at H&M that would have been fun yet nice enough for work.  The problem was: the length was too short (for me).  While some women would find the length acceptable for work, I now know myself well enough.  My younger self would buy it in hopes of wearing it to cultural events; in reality, when such occasions arise, I would end up wearing a casual top and favorite jeans (again).

I’m still hoping to spend on something nice to celebrate getting a bonus (yay!), even though the urgency has worn off, but I don’t want to buy something nice to hang in my closet. 

Who knew shopping could be so hard?