Second only to food-related offences (“I’ll have the Chicken Parm with a side order of spaghetti and a cappuccino, por favor.”), fashion blunders are all-too common among visitors to Italy. I’ve chronicled my own mishaps here on the blog on several occasions, such as the time in Bologna where my efforts to dress like an Italian backfired in my face. And while I was pretty quick on the uptake with the food rules, the subtle nuances which create “that look” among Italians remains somewhat elusive to me. But I’m working on it.
In the course of my research, I encountered Angie Nardiello. She writes a fantastic blog that addresses the reasons to dress well in Italy. What I love about her articles is that she gives practical advice for everyday people, often using real life examples that she encounters on the streets on Modena, where she lives, as well as other cities that she travels to throughout Italy.
Furthermore, as she explains in our interview today, there’s more to dressing up than meets the eye. Like the mysteries surrounding the food culture, there are actual reasons behind the particular fashion choices in Italy. You know what I’m taking about: the ubiquitous scarf in all seasons of weather, the high-quality leather shoes no matter the occasion, and the big pair of sunglasses worn both outdoors and in. These traditions have evolved over time, and through generations of tweaking the formula, Italians are known world-wide for their snappy sense of style in any given occasion.
Angie has channeled that magic, and imparts her knowledge for neophytes like me on her blog. I recommend that you check it out.
Reasons to Dress Well in Italy
Some North Americans might ponder, “Why bother if I’m just running up to the market to grab a few items?” Well, there are a few explanations for this, including the most obvious fact that “you never know who you might run into.” This is especially true in Italy. Even in big cities like Rome, it’s amazing how often this happens. People are just out and about more, therefore there’s a good chance that sooner or later you run into someone you know.
But perhaps more importantly, when we leave the house in a jogging suit and flip-flops, it effects our self-perception whether we’re aware of it or not.
Listen, it doesn’t take much, as the photos on Angie’s blog demonstrate. You won’t see any runway models on her site wearing complicated costumes made from see-through mesh or ostrich feathers or vinyl latex. Instead, her best piece of advice is simply this: dress as if you’re going to a job interview. So not too fancy, like for a wedding or something, but something that’s smart and put together.
Angie Nardiello is originally from Toronto, Canada, and has been living in Italy for seven years. She works for her husband’s artisan leather brand, called Pelletteria Tes, which sell high-end belts to the big name fashion houses in Italy.
Three years ago she had a child and was convinced that becoming a mom meant her life was over. But she was wrong—Italy has taught her that even parents can have a life, travel, and enjoy “la bella vita.” She finds many reasons to dress well in Italy, and each week she shares destinations, real Italian street style, family travel tips, and what life is really like as an expat in Modena.
Join her on her journey! You can find her website at: Reasons to Dress
I would like to give a big “GRAZIE” to Angie Nardiello for having the patience to explain the rationale behind practical Italian fashion for me. I am still in the “low-intermediate” stages of my indoctrination, but I’m an eager student and looking forward to learning more about the subject on Angie’s blog.
Click the link to check out other episodes and see my list of the best podcasts about Italy.