DRESSING ON THE SIDE
Viva Italian Style
By MAUREEN MANCINI AMATURO
“The essence of style is a simple way of saying something complex.”
Italian women championed fashion long before emperors fiddled. In 195 B.C., in what may have been the first women’s rights march, Roman ladies marched to repeal laws that controlled women’s appearances (among other things.) The laws prohibited women from buying and wearing too much gold. Forbid too much jewelry? Laws also prohibited too many colors, especially the color purple because it denoted status. But these Italian girls weren’t having any of it. In that patriarchal society, how a woman presented herself was her only way to make a statement. Roman women from every social class banded together, protested, and forced the Senate to revoke these laws.
Because Italian women were restricted in so many ways, they used fashion as a form of self-expression. Search pics of Livia Drusilla, Augustus’ wife. Tell me she didn’t have a flair for accessories. And then there was Italian noblewoman Catherine de Medici. She became Queen of France and three of her sons became kings, but she was a fashion trend-setter! She loved creativity and fashion and invented the corset and bloomers. (Catherine and Amelia Jenks Bloomer can fight this out in the afterlife.) Together, with her personal scent-maker from Florence, wearing perfume became de rigueur. And she was first to wear a certain style of wedge high heels that became a huge trend.
I urge you to go forth and create your own version of Italian style.
- Invest in one luxury item that will last. Build outfits around it. Italians tend to buy pieces that transcend seasons — natural materials like silk, linen, cotton, and cashmere, and basic crisp white shirts and tailored pants.
- Tailoring, impeccable fit is a must.
- Don’t save “good” clothes for special occasions. For Italians, every day is special — they wear luxury items to walk the dog.
Balanced exposure. Italians show off curves rather than skin. Revealing necklines, super-short skirts, and cutouts are not their thing, but form-fitting silhouettes — slim-fit jeans, pencil skirts, fitted dresses — are.
To look like an Italian fashion icon, you have to feel like one. An air of seduction, strength, and mystery works.
Italian style, at the moment, is all about drama. Incorporate these key pieces to create your Italian wardrobe.
Bold outerwear: prints, texture, strong colors, embellished or tapestry fabrics.
Embellished heels: Italian women wear these with everything, including track pants. While Italian women can walk in heels on cobblestones, not everyone can manage heels on the daily. Alternative: lower kitten heels.
Accessories: First, flat-top sunglasses, the bigger the better. Second, scarves.
Animal prints: Currently, minimal and graphic animal prints are everywhere on Italian streets.
Good lingerie: Because Italian style revolves around form-fitting looks, the
structure beneath it all is important.
Handbag: A work-of-art, leather handbag.
Feathers: Flouncing from tops, shoes, jackets.