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Italian Fashion - Summer 2006 - What are they Wearing?

Judith Ayotte Greenwood

It finally got hot here about two weeks ago, and as the jeans and tees started to melt off the pedestrians, I started to see what they are really wearing this year. I have been scurrying around to take notes and photos.

To critique the fashion and style of another requires a certain level of arrogance that I don't have. I therefore leave it to you to identify the dos and the don'ts that may occur among the photos you see this month.

Fashion Fads

What doesn't please me is when it is clear someone hasn't made a choice, but has allowed the latest fad to chose for him/her. Style does not include fad, unless the old saw "what goes around, comes around" is in play. This year I have seen clothes come back into fashion that are exactly like those I wore in high school. That isn't a fad, however, but a trend and possibly a style choice.

This year's fads are the continuance of some old ones and a couple of new ones. Top of the heap here in Italy is wearing knee-high boots in flesh color with shorts or the miniest of miniskirts. From a distance it often looks like the girl has something very unfortunate happening with her legs!

A continuing fad is the extreme low waisted pants or skirt. I feel pity for the girl with a weight problem, because she can't find pants that disguise it. The best she can hope for is to find the smocky-looking full tops that are also in style, but that is not always a good choice either.

What's in Style this Summer?

At street level it begins with tight shortened pants that have either no name or dozens of names. The youngest are wearing above the knee lengths, but they can be seen just below the knee, at mid-calf, above the ankle, and at the ankle. The pricier stores are showing these pants closely fitting, but not tight. The bargain level is as tight as an 18-hour girdle, and the under-thirties wear them exactly like that.

There's still lots of denim, but as the temperature rises, the jeans tend to come out more at sunset. The current temperatures are hovering in daytime at 100 Fahrenheit and it can be even hotter in the sun, so light and flowing are finally making the cut.

I am seeing more and more interesting shoes worn with jeans this year. The most interesting shoes seem adopted from a 1930s musical!

Really great shoes! Click to see whole photo.

Really great shoes!

It took a while to climb down off the runway, but the sheer-cotton, flowery-printed dress of the 1940s has made it to the street. I tried to photograph a stunning example as she biked past me the other afternoon, but she was too fast. It seemed like a classic Italian movie and she looked drop-dead beautiful.

Summer dresses at the market

Summer dresses at the market

As so often happens, when I was out yesterday I saw someone who looked absolutely glorious and didn't have my camera. She is a sixteen-year-old girl, slender and tall. She had her hair streaked and pulled back in a tight knot. She was wearing hip-height mustard yellow linen Bermudas that were deliberately big below the band, where they were held with a studded black leather belt that went around three times before buckling. Her snug black cotton top ended just an inch above the shorts. How could I tell she was a teenager? She also sports a turquoise bead piercing just below the center of her lip. (And she told me.) She was wearing black leather thong sandals on the sturdy side and was taking phone-photos of herself with a tiny striped kitten and sending them off for the world to see. I really do need an encore!

What's in the Stores?

Not much different from spring, other than the July sales signs. There are even a few sneak peeks at fall, which I haven't seen this early before in Italy.

The window shown below is Dior. Unfortunately, once you take it out of the shopping bag, most of it is fairly indiscernible from what can be bought in the market.

Window at the Dior shop

Window at the Dior shop

  • There are knife-creased raw silk trousers that reach the ankle and matching shells for on top.
  • There are the kinds of dresses that make me think of the word frock, full-skirted, light, airy and youthful.
  • Color is everywhere, from hot browns to palest pinks.
  • The jeans still showing are few, but mostly have designs picked out in tiny rhinestones.
  • The kerchief is shown, and I have seen it occasionally on the street, but at night when it is cooler.
  • Gypsy skirts? In the shops and at the market.
  • Striped cotton shirts? Yes.
  • Mini-minis? Yep.

Slow Travel Photos: See more Fashion photos.

Great Boots!

Our waitress in this summer's look

Updated August 16, 2006

I went to a concert recently and took more photos. It is so nice to see young people out having a great time safely and all wearing their expressions of self. I could paint word picture after picture! And then, concert over at midnight, they eventually go home and they are all up and at work at 8 am.

Here are some shots of THE fad of 2006. The pretty, smiling girl is our bar waitress. Uniform required:

mini, a little skin showing and BOOTS. These are dark because she wore what she owned instead of going out to buy THE boot. (She is truly a nice girl. Two of my companions are British and struggling to order and she whipped right into English with all of us.) Also seen: many stilletos or thong flat sandals comprised of thin strips of rhinestones. A pair of those thongs can be seen in the fun crowd foto. Also many towering cork wedges, often with flimsy strap tops.

The various length shortened pants, yes. The most common error was wearing three different embellished items together, each its own style. Sometimes too much is just... too much.

Overall, however, in the dark and the crowd there was an overwhelming suggestion of Vargas girl. Grace and beauty everywhere. Why did I ever move here?

Sunscreen and Makeup

Crema Parasole per Bambini SPF15, Pupa Desert Bronzing Powder color 2, and Bella Donna crushed minerals foundation, color Umbria, SPF15

One big note on the runways this year was pallid skin. While Italians aren't ready to go that far, they do seem less baked than in previous years. I think the government campaign on television is beginning to get through. The sun here can be brutal, even on someone used to being outdoors. A good sunscreen is vital, and La Roc makes one considered extremely good. It is classed as SPF 50, but I read that it actually performs as SPF 40.

If you wear makeup, you may want to consider one of the mineral makeups that naturally provide SPF 15 protection. I know Bella Donna, from the USA, does.

But what if you want to look bronzed and hate those orangey false tans? Pupa, made in Italy, makes a bronzing powder in several shades, and the one made for blondes is a beautiful golden tan with no orange at all. You can brush a thin layer everywhere and then wear anything else you want, or you can use it like blusher to highlight brow, cheeks, nose and chin.

The photo shows Crema Parasole per Bambini SPF15, Pupa Desert Bronzing Powder color 2, and Bella Donna crushed minerals foundation, color Umbria, SPF15.

Not very many ladies wear mascara in this 40°C heat. It sweats down into raccoon eyes in an hour or two. Some have their lashes dyed, but even easier is to wear a subtle smudged eyeliner pencil in a color that looks natural on your complexion.

The last on the beauty and grooming ideas for women only is tanning spray booths. I don't have a clue what they use in them. I know lots of people worldwide that do use them, and have considered it myself. But a warning: there has been one death here and one coma from using them. It is presumed it is caused by an allergy, but if you don't know what they use, how can you know if you will be safe?

Tips for Dealing with the Sun

I learned some interesting things from the Mayo Clinic site and a gardener's site. The first is that when you are spending a lot of time in high heat, it helps to take a shower before bed and then apply non-scented antiperspirant to the soles of your feet and the palms of your hands. There is thought to be a collective effect that will make you more comfortable and keep you from from sliding in your sandals and dropping your water bottle.

In addition I read that sunblocks made for kids are milder and often more waterproof than for adults. It was recommended that gardeners use kid blocks to avoid sweating off protection too fast. It occurs to me that travelers may need that tip more than gardeners do. A gardener can go inside and re-apply easily. You may not be able to.

Crowd at a caffe after a summer concert

Crowd at a caffe after a summer concert

Resources

Slow Travel Photos: See large versions of these photos.

What to Wear in Europe: Dressing for visiting churches and for traveling.


Judith offers fashion tours and cooking - www.judithgreenwood.com. Read more from Judith on Think on It: Philosophy from an Umbrian Farmer.

© Judith Ayotte Greenwood, 2006

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