It’s About the Jeans:
Since our arrival in Italy I had been focused on learning our new town, people, customs, food and then speed nesting in our new apartment – but all along I was observing what people were wearing. I have now had time to assimilate what I have observed and am ready to focus on, well, me!
Cinzia M., who’s enthusiasm and generosity knows no bounds, agreed to fill yet another important role, fashion consultant. This was a very odd match-up as Cinzia is petite, slim, a decade younger than me and her style is very eclectic and hip. She has a great way of layering and putting things together that I have never achieved but have always admired and I’m feeling game. I use to love fashion and buying clothes, but that was back when I; 1) had a place to wear them, and 2) liked what I saw in the mirror – making that about ten years and two pant sizes ago.
One item I am determined to live without is a bathroom scale. It’s a dispiriting game I no longer wish to play and, personally, I think they make you fat. But I could tell by the fit of my clothes that I had lost some inches, so I put 50 cents Euro in the scale in the pharmacy. It gives you a printout with your weight, percent of body fat and height. If I’d have known that ahead of time I’d have stood up straight. Good news – I’ve lost 10 pounds and enough inches to take me down a whole pant size! I’m pretty sure our life-style change since we moved into our apartment – not eating a fresh cream-filled croissant every morning, not eating in restaurants every day, and not ending each day with a gelato – just might have something to do with it. Not to mention that, for the first time in my adult life, I have hardly a care in the world (take that cortisol!) and we are still walking everywhere. Good news – my body is now a size 12. Bad news – my skin has decided to stay a size 14. The largest organ in my body apparently has a mind of it’s own and is not giving back any territory! (If anyone reading this has a suggestion on how to overcome this problem that does not involve a medical procedure, please go to “Contact Us” right now and email me.)
Cinzia picked me up last Wednesday afternoon and we went to the shopping center first. The plan was to show me where to get good quality clothes at “not such a high price.” She had me pegged correctly as the shop she took me to, Camomilla, only carries their own designs and I loved them all. I have been surprised that, even in Ascoli, jeans are the pants of choice for most every occasion for those under 70. Only the tops and shoes are modified for the occasion. With the exception of weddings, funerals, and business meetings. So what I really needed were nice jeans as the cut of Italian jeans is totally different than my “not your daughter’s Jeans.” Now to figure out what size I wear – an Italian 48 – that just sounds bad. Cinzia said “no way” and had them bring me a 46. I put them on and could barely get them buttoned so I came out of the fitting room to try to tell them they were too small. Cinzia looked at them and had them bring me one size SMALLER explaining that once I had them on a while they would take my shape. I told her I’d really rather they took her shape, but sometimes my humor is lost in translation. So to satisfy her I put on the 44s and promptly proved that no amount of jumping up and down was going to make all of me fit into those jeans. She finally agreed and I purchased a lovely pair of dark blue jeans with tiny rhinestones on the back pockets (mini bling) in a 46 and a knit suit jacket with a silver thread going through it and gold zippers to go with them. Also, a more casual top that is half sweater and buttons up the back and a beautiful peach sweater with sparkles to match some pearls Larry gave me long ago.
I had recently purchased a new pair of fun shoes on sale that look like men’s wing-tips but in two tones – black and bordeaux – so I was looking for things to wear with them. I was told by the salesperson that they were “very French.” My eye landed on a wool coat in bordeaux which Cinzia also liked. The sales clerk brought me a matching scarf in beige and bordeaux (just what I would have chosen) but Cinzia again said “no way.” I needed something with more pep and bright colors around my face and she chose one with pinks, blues, grey and just a smidgeon of bordeaux in it. We all agreed it was perfect. To top it all off Cinzia has a discount card with this shop that gets 20-30% off some items. It seems I have chosen my fashion consultant well.
Next we travel to a nearby town and a shop on the Via Salaria (the salt road) called Amadio. This is a family run shop carrying various brands. They immediately brought out two pair of gorgeous jeans, but they were priced at about double what I wanted to pay. I looked at Cinzia not wanting to embarrass her and then asked if they had anything cheaper. After a couple minutes they brought me another pair by the same maker and told me they were priced about 40% less, although there was no sales sticker. I was confused but tried them on anyway and they fit beautifully. Next thing I know I had selected three pair, a faded blue, a black and a taupe and Cinzia was picking out tops for me. I selected a bordeaux sweater and another top that will look great with my new shoes and a funky black and grey cardigan. Once I’m dressed Cinzia explained that the discount applied to all three pair of jeans. They totaled up the tops and explained that with a 15% discount the three tops totaled 239 Euro. When I paid the bill it was cheaper, but I said nothing. As we are leaving Cinzia told me she pointed out to the owner that 15% wasn’t much of a discount on those tops and suggested she should round the total off to 200 Euro – and she did! Cinzia said, “times are tough and you were purchasing a lot so it was worth asking for more of a discount. She knows you’ll be back.” And hopefully Cinzia will be with me.
The next day I couldn’t wait to go through my closet and see what tops, scarves, jewelry and shoe combinations would go with my new jeans. I was a little worried that I might not be able to exhale in them, but it was too late now. Amazingly Cinzia was spot-on about them becoming comfortable after you had them on a few minutes. Plus, the fit of the pants (and the loss of 10 pounds) made everything I put on with them look good. Every other thing I tried on went with my new mult-colored scarf – how did she do that? I was still riding on Cinzia’s fashion vibe and started putting together combinations I never thought of before. Hey, I think I’m getting my fashion groove back! Who knew that my fashion sense was being stunted by my “mommy jeans?” I’m sure these jeans will be all I need – until the January sales. Except Cinzia has promised to take me to the shoe outlets soon, but that’s different.
I haven’t become totally self-absorbed. I do have my eye on a nice little men’s shop up the street where I will take Larry very soon to be Italianized. Now that should be fun!
It Takes More than Clothes:
Fortunately, I have found a good hairdresser, Mario, who is conveniently located at the end of my block. The shop is called Mario’s Team Parrucchieri because the concept is that they work as a team – duh – but I haven’t seen this anywhere before. So when you go to his shop you may have three or four people that work on you, but Mario is involved with every customer either doing some of the work himself, directing what is to be done, or checking on what his staff have completed. His color process is totally different from my previous experiences. They use plastic wrap instead of foil and weave vertically rather than horizontal, but the results are great. So far Mario has always done my cut himself, but yesterday one of his staff did my color and I’m very pleased with it. Oh, you didn’t know I wasn’t a natural blonde – yeh right.
Cinzia M. steered me early-on to a good place for a mani/pedi/wax, Aphrodite Centro Estetico-Solarium (yes they have a tanning booth but I don’t plan to use it). With all the walking we do having regular pedicures are now deemed essential or the bottoms of my feet would turn into shoe leather. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it. I’m having my make-up done by them next week because, who knows, maybe my old-style make-up is keeping me from looking my best, and I’m real curious to see how they improve the look of drooping eyelids (more skin revenge). She tells me she buys her make-up at the Pharmacia Centrale because it is nickel-free and natural. Does my Clinique have metal in it? The last time Larry and I went into the Pharmacia Centrale, what do you know, the pharmacist has been reading our blog! Don’t worry about all this effort to look my best. I am well aware that at my age I am walking the thin line between looking as good as I can and looking like I am trying too hard to look younger. But Larry has assured me he feels he is brave enough to tell me the truth if I start to cross the line. He really IS brave.
A funny story about “old” that happened about three years ago that is never far from my mind when I contemplate my age. I was with my niece, Arianna, who was about 15 at the time. I don’t know what we were talking about but she said, “I hate it when people smell old.” Evening in Paris and Tabu came to mind as I remembered the scents of my Grandmother and Mother. I asked her what “old” smelled like, and while she was struggling to come up with an answer it dawned on me to ask, “do I smell old?” She looked up at me sheepishly and nodded yes. Really? You mean just because I have been wearing White Shoulders since, um ah, the 1970’s that I smell old? She didn’t have to respond as I had just answered my own question. Strong flowery fragrances have always given me a headache, so when I found one that didn’t I stuck with it – for 30 years – wow time flies. I told her now that she had so sweetly deflated my confidence, she needed to help me fix the situation. So we made a date to go to the mall together to seek out a “younger” fragrance for me. She immediately took me to Victoria’s Secret and we found Noir, which is subtle, sexy and doesn’t give me a headache. I wonder how long I can wear it before it is considered an old smell???? Well, if I can ride this fragrance for 30 years, I’m not sure I’ll care about smelling old at 90.