This is why your Italian friend is "always so dressed up"
Stop giving them such a hard time!
For as long as I can remember, my family has put a large focus on my outfit. Whether it was shopping for my first communion dress (a roman catholic sacrament that takes place in the second grade), preparing for church on Christmas, or getting dressed for a family function, I was always taught that the way you present yourself is everything. Looking polished and chic not only makes us feel confident, but also delivers a good impression. This way of thinking is all I've ever known, and it wasn't until recently that I learned from a wonderful Italian YouTuber Alyssa Beltempo, that there's an actual term Italians use to sum it all up, called La Bella Figura. *I'll link her video, as well as another article from La Gazzetta Italiana down below, that helped me really find a way to put this way of thinking into words.
La Bella Figura (translation: beautiful figure): Refers to an attitude and mindset that is displayed through clothing. Dressing polished and chic not only represents how that person carries themselves, but also pays respect to the people they encounter.
Fast forwarding to my twenties, I can think of thousands of times my friends drew attention to what I was wearing. "Why are you always so dressed up?" is the number one question I've been asked by my peers, and it took place on SEVERAL types of occasions:
Going out for dinner
Going out for drinks
Having a girl's night at a friends
Having a girl's night at my house
Coming from class
Going for coffee
Now to classify what "dressed up" actually was each of those times, was actually not very "dressed up" at all. I didn't realize that wearing a nice top, or a pair of booties is actually groundbreaking for people!! Every Italian I know can vouch for this when I say, we just dress for the occasion, and ultimately, we just want to look good! If I'm getting together with you and a couple friends for dinner or drinks, expect a fancier top with nice jeans, a cute pair of heels, with maybe a statement jacket. If I'm having you over for a girl's night, you will probably not find me wearing a hoodie. If we're going to a cute café for a cup of coffee, expect me to be wearing something more than athletic attire. And of course, if I had an 8am class in university, I would not even dream of wearing pyjamas. An important thing to remember here is that we're not "trying too hard", and that we're not going overboard with what we wear. All we ever want to do is look and feel our best!
I also want to stress that our Italian parents encouraged us to dress a certain way as a sign of respect. The last thing we ever want is to show up to a gathering of any kind and have someone think "Wow, she couldn't have even brushed her hair, or put on a dress for this?". Not putting any thought into our appearance or having consideration for the occasion, is just not proper, and the complete opposite of La Bella Figura. Carrying ourselves with confidence and pride helps us deliver the right impression, and is key to taking our outfit to the next level. You know you've delivered the right impression through the perfect outfit once you've balanced style, and showcasing your dignity.
Now to dive in a bit further about Italian fashion, there is one important fact that may shock you. Italians are actually not big on flaunting brands or logos. Other than the occasional Kappa tracksuit that you'll find at a soccer stadium, you'll notice that specifically in Italy, people aren't covered in logos. This is something I've learned from my family in Canada as well. My mom is one of five sisters in her family, and although they all enjoy a good pair of Fendi sunglasses, they've always taught me to have an appreciation for the Italian craftsmanship. In other words, a pair of leather shoes doesn't have to have two giant G's slapped on it for it to be good quality. Having an authentic leather wallet, handbag, or pair of boots from a family owned store in Italy are elements of our outfit that we're truly proud of. It's also key to note that Italians are prepared to make an investment on staple pieces for their wardrobe, whether it be that Prada or tuscan-family crafted bag, or a button-up linen shirt. Quality and elegance make up the foundation of an Italian outfit, and truly paints the picture of La Bella Figura.
I hope you enjoyed this post, and that it helped you understand your Italian friends a bit better. And just know that as the boundaries for the lockdown continue to fade, the more La Bella Figura will begin to show again.
Comment below and share some of your experiences with me if you've ever struggled with being that person who is "always so dressed up". Give this post a like, and let me know if you want to see more posts about Italian fashion and values. Also be sure to check out this video, and article to learn more about La Bella Figura:
Fa la brava,