Ahhh, Italy. While soaking in the history, the architecture, the wine, and the food, it’s very hard to ignore the sartorial style of the fashionable Italians. On a recent trip, I tried to discover the elusive definition of what dressing “Italian” really means.
When we arrived in the very small town of Padua, the first thing I noticed was that EVERYONE dresses impeccably, no matter where they’re going or what they’re doing. It must be ingrained through generations. Young girls have been coached by their Italian mamas. Whether shopping, working, or simply purchasing food at the local market, their pride in dress was on display.
Take a look at these stylish ladies on the street and in the outdoor markets. Although dressed casually visiting with friends or running errands, their outfits were thoughtfully put together, reflecting a certain je ne sais quoi (sorry, Italians…I don’t know how to say it in your language).
Whether riding her bike to the fruit market in kitten heels, meeting a friend wearing stylish linen, or a mom wearing leather hot pants and ankle boots while shopping with her daughter in Padua–these Italians ladies are the BOMB!
And I couldn’t resist this shot of two yellow labs waiting patiently at the butcher, while their stylish owner picked out dinner.
Just take a look. None of these ladies are particularly dressed up, but their CASUAL DRESS IS SUPER CHIC!
So How Do They Do It? How do these Italians manage to turn everyday outfits into super-stylish ensembles?
Here’s what I deduced from my observations.
- Italians choose well-fitting clothing that is tailored for their body type.
- Italians invest in quality pieces, whether it be a leather jacket, a well-fitting pair of jeans, a stylish handbag, or a great pair of sunglasses. It’s more about having a few quality staples than owning lots of trendy items.
- Italians choose stylish footwear–even if it’s a pair of sneakers. (Which, by the way, everyone in Italy wore…young and old. It seems to be the shoe for now and forever.) Pointed-toe flats, loafers, and pumps were also ubiquitous in every town.
- Italians embrace earth tones and mix them with color. Neutral colors like black, brown, beige, and grey are staples in Italian fashion. And I saw earth tones being mixed with color, e.g. navy/brown, light blue/gray.
- Italians wear leather. I didn’t see much leather being worn during the time I was there, because it was so hot, but it was sold everywhere. Leather jackets, pants, skirts, and shoes are all a part of an Italian fashionista’s wardrobe.
- Italians layer their looks to create interest. (Although it was warm when I visited, it was obvious in window displays that layering cardigans, blazers, scarves, and belts added to the “Italian” flair. But, with the above being said, subtlety is the key when accessorizing.
- Italians opt for “understated elegance.” The phrase, “less is more” can be said of Italian style.
- Italians invest in quality accessories. They know a great pair of sunglasses, a stylish handbag, and a few pieces of statement jewelry can go a long way to take a look to the next level.
- Italians avoid too much pattern and opt for layering solids.
- Italians love their own designers. They look to Italian brands like Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Gucci, and Valentino for wardrobe inspiration.
Monochromatic neutrals are sophisticated. Adding color accents keeps them chic. Notice the layers and the accessories (belts and hats).
Pattern is incorporated sparingly. One focal point is all you need–either by incorporating color, texture, or pattern, or shine. (This teal sweater and plaid coat (center photo below) was a rare example of both color AND pattern.)
In conclusion, if this ancient Roman statue could speak, she would probably say: “Good quality, great fit, and attention to elevated accessorizing are keys to Italian style… Oh, and don’t forget the SPANX.”