Italians are often pinpointed as one of the most stylish people in the world. It’s certainly true that since we are little children, we are taught how to dress properly and according to the specific “environment” we are in, but which are the rules one should follow to look cool “like an Italian”? And is it always fun and simple for us following these imperatives? Read more about it in this article.
I might appear a little bit hypocritical in sharing a post like this, as those who know me well are aware of how much I dread following “rules” or “trends” when talking about the realm of the self-expression. For me dressing is a question of displaying one’s personality, identity and even the mood of the moment. I like in fact to define my personal style as “moody”: the choice of the items and their colours has a lot to do with my current frame of mind and what I want the others to know about me with a simple glance in that precise instant.
Still, I can’t deny that, since I was born in a place like Italy and I have experienced all my life the social expectations connected with one’s appearance, I sort of automatically absorbed all ( ! ) the things to be known about LA BELLA FIGURA (that doesn’t mean I follow them all the time, though).
Here there are the rules in order of importance:
Choose the right shape
I feel like the shape is the concept that makes all the difference for us. Clothes should fit you, without underlining every single imperfection or hanging loosely from your body like a potato sack. One should also realize which is his/her “body type” and choose the clothes accordingly. Most of the Italian women, for example, have the so-called hourglass body type (*waves hand*) and knows they should emphasize their slim waist and conceal their large hips.
2. Less is more
This principle is more like a religious commandment than a simple rule. You are not supposed to overdo with colours, accessories and skin on display. Putting too many colours together, adorning yourself with jewels like you are a Christmas tree and showing off too much of your “physical assets” ( !! ) is not considered graceful. The concept of elegance goes hand in hand with the principle of discretion. In order to be elegant, you don’t have to try too hard: you risk to obtain the opposite effect.
3. Choose the right pattern
Also pattern should be chosen according your body type. Every Italian knows that if you’re kind of chubby, you shouldn’t wear items with horizontal lines that make you look larger. Also a short person knows that it’s good wearing vertical lines that make one looks slender. And obviously…never match horizontal and vertical lines!
4. Tone down
Italians do not usually wear bold colours, as these sort of go against rule n°2. We use a lot of neutral shades and if we have to choose between warm and cold colours, we generally opt for the latter ones, which are subtler. Bright and bold colours might be more indicated for accessories: if you are wearing black, you can bring a touch of colour by adding a vivid belt or sparkly jewellery.
5. Match the colours
One doesn’t need to be Michelangelo or Raphael to have at least an idea of which colours match together and which don’t. Check the colour wheel!
Other tips concerning colour matching might be:
a) choose the colours that fit better with your complexion;
b) wearing accessories (bag, belt, shoes etc.) which colour echoes one of those appearing in your clothes is considered a touch of class.
6. Forget certain clothes even exist
Certain items are just…to be avoided! Like:
- Hawaiian shirts (I don’t think you can actually find them in Italian shops, lol);
- Zebra-pattern stuff (even leopard-print stuff is not always considered “acceptable”);
- Capri-pants (as the word suggests, these were pants largely used in Capri. The thing is that they were formerly used only at the beach and that they were longer than the ones you see today. The current ones – cut just below the knee and slightly flobby – are a no-no);
- The question of the tracksuit deserves an in-depth analysis. It is acceptable only for the gym or your yoga class. You are not supposed to go even at the supermarket dressed in a tracksuit. You do see people around wearing the top of a tracksuit, but it’s always matched with jeans. I think we have some sort of repulsion for those pants, that don’t fit the legs and kind of look shabby to us.
BEWARE! Violating even one of these rules entails two major consequences:
- People staring at you ( especially women who judge your appearance all the bloody time);
- Mums and grandmas pronouncing the dreaded stock phrase:
Where are you going dressed like that?
And I assure you, they won’t give up, until you’ll go get changed. Lol.
One thing I do appreciate about the Italian “style policy” is that we are kind of encouraged to get to know our own body and to learn how to choose items that actually look good on us. The thing I hate the most is the constant judgement of the Italian women. When you speak to some of them ( I should say “us” since I’m Italian, but I don’t recognize myself in the fashion victims category, sorry), they don’t even look at you in the eyes, because too absorbed in checking and evaluating your “outfit”. Actually I do miss the freedom of going out dressed like an outcast without other people staring at me and gaping in horror.
Dressing like an Italian might be stylish, but sometimes you just don’t give a damn about looking cool. So, consider these rules for what they really are: recommendations rather than laws set in stone. Be cool, but, most importantly, be yourself!
So, what do you think about these rules? Would you follow them? I actually dismiss rule n°4: I discovered how colours can influence the mood and I’m actually trying to incorporate them in my wardrobe as much as I can! How about you? Bright colours or all black? Let me know in a comment!