It is a truth universally acknowledged that Italians know how to dress. I could not spend 10 days in the home of Gucci, Prada, Missoni and others and not write something about Italian fashion.
La Bella Figura literally means ‘the beautiful figure’ but in Italy it means a way of life. It refers to a look, a way of presenting oneself and is apparent in almost every aspect of Italian life. Not only is Italy the home of some of the world’s greatest fashion houses and a nation aiming to dress to impress but the cars, buildings, art, food, wine, language and more aim to impress too.
In a country where the police uniforms are designed by top Italian designer Armani, it is not surprising that Italian women take great care and pride over every aspect and detail of their appearance.
Shoes are like a religion in Italy. And heels in particular. For a country with so many cobbled streets it seems incredible that Italian women have not swapped their four-inch heels for flat ballet pumps. But no. The way to do it, I am reliably told, without incurring a broken ankle, is slowly!
You will certainly not see an Italian woman dressed in trainers. Ever.
Italian women dress to stand out and to be noticed by men but that does not mean that they dress in an overtly sexy manner. They do not go in for very mini skirts or bare midriffs. Instead they choose clothes which flatter and fit their figure. A bra strap, ‘accidentally’ on show is also perceived as sexy. And what they wear under their clothes is something that Italian women also pay great attention to. It is impossible to walk down any Italian high street and not see at the very least five or six lingerie stores.
As the seasons and trends change Italian women have an uncanny knack of picking out only those that suit them and their body shape, thus Italian style and fashion evolves much slower than in some other countries.
Ultimately, it is not about what you wear so much as how you wear it, the attitude with which you wear it. La bella figura.