Sitting on the piazza people watching is one of our favorite pastimes and many fashion observations have been made. First, I must say the Italians (young, old, single married, attractive or not so) work very hard at looking good, staying fit and on their game, plus they are much more secure with their sexuality and nudity. When it comes to fashion, you will see every possible variation on off-the-shoulder, transparent, strapless, backless, cleavage-revealing clothing you can imagine. I’m not talking slutty here, I’m talking classy eye candy in most cases. If the point is to be noticed, mission accomplished! Considering the reputation of Italian men, isn’t that like throwing fuel on a fire? Maybe it IS because of the reputation of Italian men that everyone works at it so very hard. When you see a group of women from 15 to 50, often you cannot tell the difference in their ages without examining their faces carefully. I’m not jealous, really, as I admire the care they take and I’m not looking to stand out. However, occasionally I do feel like the poster girl for Lands End, so maybe over time I’ll learn to kick it up a notch. Did I mention the men look great too? I told one of my friends before we left the U.S. that I felt fortunate to be going to live in Italy without having to live with an Italian male ego.
I am sorry to report that tattoos are in fashion here, even for some of the more mature and well-off women, but fewer tats per person than in the U.S. So far I’ve only seen a few guys with massive numbers of tattoos and I don’t know if they are tourists or not. I’ve seen few tattoos my life that I thought were attractive, but I’m old. My friend’s 40-something son once said that, “everyone gets a pass for one tattoo but for every additional tattoo you loose points off your I.Q.” I’m also sorry to report that, although the government has wised up to the dangers of second-hand smoke and is banning smoking in an increasing number of public places, many Italians will light up whenever possible (although in fewer numbers than last time we were here). We have seen many stores dedicated exclusively to the sale of electronic cigarettes.
Larry can attest to the fact that I can spot breast implants and wigs nearly a mile away. I’ve seen the bimbos with the unnatural proportions on Italian TV but I’m delighted to say I have not seen them on the streets of Italy. Rather than the desire to look good propagating such a sexist practice, it seems the security Italian women have in their own bodies keeps it from taking hold. And now that I think of it, I haven’t seen an ad for or passed an office for a plastic surgeon yet. It may be different in the larger cities, but I’m avoiding them until after tourist season. Dark tans, not subtle tans, are also in fashion. They must be real because I have only seen one tanning salon so far, and the beach is only an hour away. Once winter comes I will be able to continue my research on both trends throughout broader Italy.
We must give thanks to the inventor of spandex or the Italians that don’t die of lung cancer or melanoma would expire from lack of blood flow. Almost everyone under the age of 50, men and women, wear the tightest pants I’ve ever seen on adults. Mostly, they are stretched across rather attractive derrières. Yes, young folks in the U.S. wear them, and I recall trying to shimmy into some pretty tight ones myself in my day which was pre-spandex. But at a certain age comfort won out. So it is the population from 30 to 50 that fascinate me most. After 50, it is surely done but it starts to look a bit desperate. It is summer and time to wear white shorts, pants and skirts. Larry and I have a new game we play (at my instigation) when people watching called panties, thong or commando. Fun!
Once again we brought expectations with us that did not play out. Maybe because of all the Armani and Hugo Boss ads in the fashion magazines, we expected people in business environments to be rather well dressed. The first day we spent in the bank was interesting because everyone looked like it was casual Friday, on Monday. The women (only one under 40) were in tight brightly colored pants or jeans and (by U.S. standards) non-business tops and were tottering around on colorful high wedges and heels. I saw the male branch manager behind the counter in a jacket and thought, okay, there’s one. But when he came from behind the counter he was wearing tight jeans and loafers without socks. No other male employees bothered with jackets – all the better to see their slim fit designer shirts stretched over taunt abs and dark tans. On the following Monday morning we had business at the Post Office and the manager there, a 40-something blond female holding it together fairly well, was dressed in a flaming red dress that was not only off the shoulder but shockingly low cut in the front – go figure.
Here as in the U.S., Saturdays are wedding day. If you spend any time on either of the large piazzas on a given Saturday you will get to see at least three wedding parties. This is the only time I have seen men in suits and I’m a sucker for a man all dressed up and I’m not even going to venture to tuxedo land! The brides dresses are lovely but a tad predictable, but the dresses of the female attendees are a real fashion show not to be missed.