Letter from Italy #3 – Sartorial Splendour, Middle-aged North American Style

For this trip, Sweetie and I were determined to travel with half the luggage we took with us last year to France. I am proud to say we have succeeded. I have booked us into apartments for each leg of our journey. Apartments with washing machines. So I suspect we could have managed with even less. The problem is, I like to be prepared for as many eventualities as possible. One nice outfit for going out somewhere special. Which often requires a different pair of shoes. Clothes for hot weather. It’s been very hot in Rome. Except for yesterday when it was quite a bit cooler and I wished I had worn one of the two jackets I brought.

Sweetie did well with his packing. Well, not the actual packing. I do that since he just tosses stuff in a suitcase. Leaves lots of empty spaces. Not efficient at all, especially when I can usually stuff a few more things into his case when mine is full. This year, he brought just two pairs of shoes. Both suitable for walking, one pair slightly dressier than the other. I have, I confess, five pairs. But two of them squash up really small and fit in his case.

I knew when I was planning our trip not to expect to be able to compete with the Italians when it comes to style. All the guide books and blogs said not to bother trying. Still, I wanted to look reasonably nice. One of my favourite travel accessories is the scarf. I have three with me. No, four. They can dress up an outfit, change an outfit and be tossed artfully around one’s neck. They cover bare shoulders and provide a bit of warmth in places with too much air conditioning. So far, I have managed to avoid the Paris scarf incident of last year. But only because it was too humiliating to repeat and I have been very careful. Still, I have come to the conclusion that scarves and cross-body purses are not meant to be together. There have been too many close calls of entanglement.

At home, my closet is full of drapy, flowy things. They’re comfortable and they hide a multitude of sins. My daughter is forever trying to get me to set them aside. What luck that I ignored her. Roman women wear all kinds of flowy, drapy things. It’s so hot here and they make so much sense. Why, then, do they succeed in looking stylish while I just look bigger? Maybe it’s the jewellery. And the sunglasses. I did splurge a whole six euros on a pair of drapy linen pants, size be damned. I’m hoping they won’t fall apart when I put them in the temperamental Roman washing machine with a mind of its own.

Rome is not quite the fashion bastion I expected though. Yes, there are lots of well-dressed and stylish people wearing cool sunglasses, carrying snazzy handbags, sporting spiffy footwear. We were highly amused dining out the other day when a mom and her two little girls wandered by. The little girls, who might have been four and six, were exceptionally stylish and matched their mom who wore virtually the same outfit as her two little poppets. Cool little sunglasses, snazzy little handbags, spiffy little footwear. Mostly though, there are lots and lots of ordinary looking people. People who look a lot like us. Except maybe not quite so pale.

Sweetie doesn’t worry much about sartorial splendour. His side of the closet at home has one row of golf shirts in tan, beige and white along with a few in navy, blue and red for when he’s feeling daring. The bottom row has chinos in tan, beige and khaki with a few in navy and brown. He does have a dress shirt, slacks and sports coat for really special occasions. I made him bring them just in case. So far, he’s worn the sport coat on the plane.

We did remember hats this trip. Sweetie resists hats despite having skin that burns easily. He also resists sunblock. I have to get him to hold still while I put it on his face, a bit like a five year old getting his face washed. At any rate, he agreed to bring a hat if it could be a ball cap even though the books said Italians frown on them. He was prepared to risk it, he said. He also brought two pairs of shorts even though the books said that Italians frown on them. Guess what we see everywhere. And no, the ball caps and shorts are not just on tourists. Same thing happened last year when he wanted to bring his white sneakers to France. The French will laugh, said I. My sister, who is a world traveller, backed me up. And so he left the sneakers at home. And of course he pointed them out several times a day on the streets of Paris. There are lots of white sneakers in Rome. Assorted other colours too, especially neon green and pink. I wonder how those would look on him.

I do plan to get him a new hat though when we head to the Campo di Fiori tomorrow. A snappy little fedora, I think. Squashable though for easy packing. It can go right next to my squashable shoes in his suitcase.

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About saxbergonstuff

I'm a mother, a grandmother, a sister, a daughter, an auntie. When I'm not focusing on that, I'm an educator, facilitator and content designer. When I feel like it.
Gallery | This entry was posted in Aging Gracefully (or trying to), Miscellany, Travel and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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