My first encounter with a true Italian girl was over 20 years ago. I was working for an Italian family who owned their own restaurant and catering service. Their daughter, who was only a few years older than me, had striking Italian features, including a large nose, and major attitude. Attitude aside, she always seemed to dress in the fashions of the day, and despite her larger figure, seemed to carry the trends well. She was not the most attractive girl but what she did have as far as good features, she seemed to flaunt relentlessly, including her “big hair”. For this, young men seemed to flock to her. What surprised me most though was that even as a teenager, this second-generation Italian girl knew how to work what she had to her advantage, always coming across confident and pulled together.
Fast forward 20 years and I’m still amazed at how pulled together Italian women seem to be. One thing i’ve learned in particular is that when it comes to Italian women and fashion, it’s all about la bella figura, or making a beautiful impression. This expression is a way of life for women in Italy, adhered to like a religion, no matter if they are at work, at home, or on vacation.
It’s not hard to fulfill this unwritten religious obligation in a country that has given the world such brand name fashions as Ferragamo, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Prada, and more. With so many high-end labels at their fingertips, Italian women have elevated fashion to a new level, almost to an international art form that many other nationalities aspire to duplicate, including Americans.
Although younger Italian women have taken to American trends, including Ugg boots and puffy jackets and vests, most Italian women build a wardrobe around classic pieces accented by a careful selection of trendy items and personal style. But no matter what the trend of the day is, an Italian woman knows her limits and will only wear the fashions and fits that flaunt her assets and hide her flaws.
Want to add more of an Italian feel to your wardrobe? Follow these fashion rules that Italian women live by:
Build a basic wardrobe: Wardrobe staples for women in Italy typically include great fitting jeans, sexy dresses, sweaters, black pants, and fitted jackets. Adding a few “trendy” items to these pieces each season will keep your style up-to-date, but not over your budget.
Invest in designer accessories: From handbags to shoes, designer labels are extremely popular in Italy. Most women can’t afford to have a complete wardrobe of designer pieces, so they will accent their look with expensive jewelry, handbags, sunglasses, hats, etc. Word to the wise, never underestimate the fashion power of Gucci sunglasses.
Choose high-end fabrics – No matter the trend of the day, selecting high-quality fabrics will distinguish you from a tourist in Italy. Italian favorites include wools, cashmere, gabardine, cotton, and of course, Italian silk. Italians are also particular about color coordination, opting for tans, blacks, creams, whites, and rich colors like chocolate browns and jewel tones (possibly to blend with all of the jewelry they wear!)
Go for the tailored look – Italian women seem to have a innate skill for wearing just the right fit. They choose clothes that hug every curve, resulting in an always flattered figure. Pants, including jeans, are tailored to each body and hemlines seem to fit each shoe height. Tops and blouses are fitted but not skin-tight, and although they may show a hint of skin, the look remains slightly sexy but always tasteful.
Don’t skimp on shoes – Just like accessories, Italian women love their shoes, preferably high-heeled and leather. Quality heels are paired with just about anything from suits and skirts, to jeans and dresses. Heeled boots for winter are a must and, like regular heels, can be worn with just about any outfit. Although high heels may be preferred, flats are also acceptable as long as they are appropriate for your look as well as your figure. So, if the shoe fits, and looks good, wear it.
Wear it with confidence – For Italian women, it’s not just what you wear that matters, it’s how you wear it. So, no matter what you decide to wear today, be it Italian fashion or something else, wear it with confidence and a lot of attitude. Do this, and you may be mistaken for an Italian just yet.