All the rage in Milan, I mean Rome

Let’s talk fashion.  Style.  What the Romans are wearing day to day.  But first, let me acknowledge that this post would be infinitely better if it was filled with pictures of actual Romans.  I get that.  But originally this post was going to have no pictures.  I didn’t want to stealth photo anybody, and I didn’t see interactions to ask for a pic going well.  (Besides the fact that I generally have hands full of stroller navigating 45 degree angled sidewalks which does not make it easy to quickly pap someone.)

But then I had the “brilliant” idea of at least photographing shop windows.  And asking James to stealth photo people.  (You’ll see; James stalked A LOT of dudes for this post.  I think I’ll actually make that a whole separate post.  I know.  The suspense is killing you.)  So there is glare, but let there be photos!

I like to pretend that James was hiding in the bush to take this picture

I like to pretend that James was hiding in the bush to take this picture

So with that out of the way here are some generalizations about fashion I’ve seen during my two months in Rome.  I would not say this goes for the rest of Italy, or even the other side of the city.

If I had to pick one word for Roman style it would be deliberate.  An outfit may not be my exact cup of tea, but everything looks like it is selected purposefully.  People have really embraced Stacy London’s “completer piece.”  There is usually something–a jacket, cardigan, scarf, or necklace–that ties everything together and makes it look even more deliberate.

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In Rome, people dress the seasons and not the weather.  (This did not seem to be the case at Hadrian’s Villa where it seemed to be acknowledged that wearing a jacket in 85 degree weather is ridiculous.)  Temps are finally cooling, but once mid-September hit, it was all jackets, scarves, and boots all the time.  Even when it was in the 80s.  Strangely, people do not seem to be uncomfortable.  Good for them.  I’d love to know the secret.  Probably something obvious like “be from a Mediterranean climate.”

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The print on this dress. I die!

Clothing pieces seem to be a little more special.  I think this contributes to the deliberate look that is put together.  I’ve noticed pieces with drape, asymmetry, extra zippers, bits of leather, or pockets that just give that little bit of pizzazz.

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For men, styles are generally tighter.  Pants and tops.  I see collars–polo or button-up–more often than not.  When no collar, a large amount of message or graphic tees.  I’ve seen this on both sexes but more for men: a sweater over the shoulders is a prevalent fall look.  Men of all ages wear scarves.

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Men of a certain age almost universally wear utility vests.  I’d like to know how this comes about that these men look ready to go fishing or sweep streets.  Do they hand them out at your retirement party?  “Ah, finalmente, I have space for my keys and tissues!”

But really, what do they put in all those pockets?  I saw a man with a utility vest AND a man bag once.  His umbrella didn’t fit, I guess?

I’m looking forward to seeing how utility vests are styled as it gets colder.  I saw a man with a windbreaker OVER his vest the other day.  Which seemed odd, but after greater inspection, makes sense because then you can take off the windbreaker.  And stuff it in one of your utility vest pockets.  I am also seeing some jackets that look like utility vests with sleeves.  Stay tuned!

Blurry, but an excellent representation of the vest.  Many more vest pics to come.

Blurry, but an excellent representation of the vest. Many more vest pics to come.

On women, styles are both tighter and looser.  They like to play with proportion.  I have seen some amazing harem and parachute pants that would make Princess Jasmine envious.

I'm also seeing 3/4 length sleeved puffer coats.  Sadly not pictured.

I’m also seeing 3/4 length sleeved puffer coats. Sadly not pictured.

Women of all ages have great style.  A friend described what they call the “fashion mullet” aka seeing someone who appears very young from the back based on their outfit, but is much older when turning around.  I haven’t noticed this as much, but maybe just because I want to be wearing tight pants and camo when I’m 80.  I saw a grandmother wearing a sheer shirt once, but she was definitely pulling it off.

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Romans do not wear hats.  (Other than moto helmets.)  I noticed because James usually wears baseball caps, and I was hunting for an Italian alternative.  There is not one.  This is true even for kids.  When Henry wears his hats, it means I can pick him out from across the playground.  If you see someone with a hat, this is a likely indication they are a tourist.

Do not be fooled by the hat the mannequin is holding.  No one will buy it.

Do not be fooled by the hat the mannequin is holding. No one will buy it.

Or you can look at their shoes.  I have seen some fabulous shoes here.  Generally not on tourists who go for comfort above all else.  I have seen plenty of women in sky high heels and wonder how they navigate the city.  But I’ve seen other shoes that look more comfortable but still interesting.  There are plenty of boots out there now, natch.  See earlier statement about fall.

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More often than not, outfits are accessorized with a cigarette.  I truly don’t care if you smoke, but it is a peeve of mine when people walk down the sidewalk smoking.  It just makes it impossible to dodge.

I’m probably (definitely) deluding myself, but I don’t think I stick out that badly.  I like tight pants.  I’m not wearing tennis shoes.  I like jackets.  Just not in 80 degree weather.  But my pasty complexion will give me away every time.

Another reason I need to learn Italian

Besides needing to stop trying to shoplift produce and to stop talking about multiple anuses, I have another reason to learn Italian.  I have a very beautiful child.  This isn’t just biased mom speak here, although I certainly am that.  I know that he is beautiful because the Italians keep telling me.

Irresistible to Italians since 2014

Irresistible to Italians since 2014

Typical scenario:  picture me huffing away pushing the double stroller.  Usually elderly Italian walks up and coos at the kids.  Sometimes they just flip me a “Complimenti” and walk on.  Other times they want more of a chat.  I just smile and nod while my brain is going a hundred miles per hour to try to keep up.  I once told the little old lady “I’m sorry, I don’t speak Italian.”  She nodded and just kept talking.  In Italian.  I usually try to throw in a few “Henry, say ciao” or similar to hopefully signify that I do not speak the Italian and I am not purposely trying to anger everyone here over the age of 60.

Enjoying said free sucker

People give Henry things.  Our first time in a restaurant, the waiter rolls up with a ball of dough on a plate and sets it in front of Henry.  And then sat back just to watch what happened.  (Henry licked it and then set it down.)  We walked past a flower stall and the man pulled out a rose for Henry.  He got a free sucker at the panini place.  The kid is racking up freebies.

Henry currently draws more attention, but Mac also has a devoted following.  He had a pretty resounding cheek squishing at the pizza place and then the lady stalked him down the street for additional squishing when we paused to chat with a neighbor.  I can’t really blame her.

You can't resist the squish

You can’t resist the squish

A surprising number of people have asked if they are twins.  Mac is big, but not that big . . .

Adorable?  Who, us?

Adorable? Who, us?

So here is my blanket apology to all the Italians I am not properly responding to as you compliment my children.  Learn Italian.  I’m on it.  In the meantime, I am flattered, and I hope my smile and heartfelt “grazie” do the trick.


So this is modern dating?

The first I ever heard about texting was over ten years ago in Germany.  I didn’t have a cell phone, but all the kids were SMS schicken.

Now, everybody texts.  I’m not great at it.  1) I tend to forget to keep my cell phone on me.  2) I like to make definite plans.  If I hear things like, we’ll text you when we’re heading out, my head might explode.  3)  I don’t like being character restricted.  This is why I do like email.  I guess I could just send ridiculously long texts, or multiple texts, but I probably wouldn’t get the type of responses I wanted and would frustrate everyone.

But now I’m back in Europe.  I have a cell phone this time.  I’m trying to make new friends.  And this seems to mean texting.

I met a really nice girl at a BBQ.  We exchanged numbers.  Her family came to Henry’s birthday party.  I meant to text her later to say thank you, but she beat me to it.  I wasn’t playing coy; I swear, I’m just really bad at this.  I agonized over how to respond.  I wanted to be witty and likeable.  I wanted to suggest making plans, but I didn’t want to crowd the text.  I may have ended up using a highly embarrassing word such as “holler.”  I immediately texted back to apologize for using the word “holler.”  You could call this a rookie mistake, but at least it felt more like me.  Doing something and then over-thinking it is pretty classic Melissa.  It worked!  She laughed.  Or at least her text said she did.  We had a nice conversation.  This reminds me, I probably need to text her again . . .

Another new friend texted out of the blue to say she had a song stuck in her head.  This made me feel nice.  Someone is thinking about me!  I then spent way too much time agonizing over a response.  The takeaway: texting is not just for making plans.  I should reach out more just because I feel like it.

This weekend continued the “dating” adventures.  Saturday was supposed to be a group date at the zoo.  But the other people couldn’t make it.  It would have been the perfect setup in a romcom, but in reality, it was just more screaming toddlers.  I think it went well.  We may get to go out again sometime.  Henry had fun.  The zoo was pretty cool.  (And you know I changed diapers on a bench. #placesmysonsjunkhasbeen)  You can get very close to an exhibit with more than 40 monkeys.  I could have watched them all day.

Ready to see some animals

Ready to see some animals

The awesome monkey island

The awesome monkey island

More monkeys

More monkeys

Henry, new friend, & creepy photobomber

Henry, new friend, & creepy photobomber

Sunday was the speed dating.  Really more like a mixer, I guess.  The Ladybirds English-speaking playgroup had a kickoff lollipop hunt at Villa Borghese.  I came with a friend, but we were determined to mingle.  It was a tough room.  Picture about 50 kids running around with parents running after them.

Intimidating, right?

Intimidating, right?

But I did meet a few nice people.  No numbers exchanged, but we talked about connecting on facebook and I’ll hopefully see them at the weekly playgroup.

Henry quickly grasped the hunt concept

Henry quickly grasped the hunt concept

Always sweet to be the mom of the "kid in the fedora"

Always sweet to be the mom of the “kid in the fedora”

Where's my lollipops?

Where my lollipops?

In sum, I will work more diligently on this modern thing known as texting.  But I’m glad I met James before it took off.