OOtD: American Punk Princess

American Punk Collage

It’s finally Spring Break! I am so excited for all the possibilities! I mean yes, of course I have a little bit of homework and internship applications, but I’ve been watching movies, bonding with one of my roommates, (although we just got a new one and we are unenthusiastic about her addition… Will keep you all posted…) and wandering the streets of Florence like a native. Sundays seem to be more crowded than you would expect, as the Ponte Vecchio all the way down to Piazza Della Repubblica is crammed with tourists and natives out for shopping or a bite to eat. I actually left the grocery store without buying anything because the line was looping halfway back through the Conad. No thanks.

I’m really excited because I’ll be going to London for part of next week, so I can give you a little taste of fabulous Brit fashion (especially because the friend that I’m staying with is also studying fashion. Trés apropos! I’ve dreamt of owning a Burberry trenchcoat ever since I fell in love with fashion, and the Brits certainly know how to blend preppy and edgy into their street style. Which is exactly why I decided to mention my next sojourn along with the lovely outfit above. The Brits became paragons of fashion and culture during the Swinging Sixties, with models such as Twiggy, Peggy Moffitt, and Jean Shrimpton helping renew London as a world fashion capital. They’d previously held attention during the Victorian and Elizabethan eras, when queens were trendsetters with attitude. With contemporary designers such as Vivienne Westwood, John Galliano, and Manolo Blahnik shining in the fashion scene, there’s no doubt that London is a perfect place to find some unique fashion inspiration.

I decided to go shopping today and get some sun and fresh air, and it’s finally reaching spring temperatures here in Firenze, so this outfit was perfect to wander the streets without a jacket. It took me ages to find a chambray shirt, but this one from H&M is light enough to pair with anything and still retain the all-American love of denim. I love plaid/checkered anything because it’s a perfect option when I’m embracing my playful tomboy side. The skirt is great because it has a good number of neutral colors I can pick and choose to mix with, and we already know how much I love the color red. The tights will be sticking around until the temperature jumps up, but they are also helpful to take focus away from the legs.

I’m giving a whole paragraph to the shoes because I’m really adoring them these days. I got them at DSW as my “black flats to go with everything” for this semester. The gladiator straps add intrigue and an irreverent punk touch to any outfit, whether it’s really visible with a skirt or dress, or a little more played down under a pair of dark skinny jeans. The shoes are really flexible and great for walking in, which is important in a city like Florence. The zip at the back is a cool touch, because I’d rather not have to buckle everything in the front every day when I’m running off to class in 10 minutes. The brand is London Rebel (see, there’s a method to my madness!) and they hold up well.

It’s so interesting to think of how fashion is connected to historical events and the lifestyles that people lead in different time periods. The way a woman’s silhouette changes, or the types of fabrics that are used over and over again really illustrates the interchange of culture and fashion every day. Fashion isn’t just clothing; fashion is a form of personal expression, an extension of attitude and a way to project another layer of oneself in an interesting way. Whether you’re a classic sailor top, capris and ballet flats type of girl, or whether you’re a guy who loves wearing a suit everyday, fashion speaks where words cannot, and no matter where you are from or how much money you make, you can make a statement with your wardrobe if you only learn how to make it work for you. Stay brilliant, everyone! Baci!! xx

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Staying Stylish While Staying Snug

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(This is probably the only “selfie” I will ever post on here… Hopefully… Ignore the mess haha)

I am fairly slow at updating this blog, in case you haven’t realized, but I have been keeping my eyes peeled for various fashion plates and fashion disasters here in Florence. The most common eyesore I’ve noticed happens to be something very close to home, most likely because the main perpetrators are study abroad girls: leggings being worn as pants. While I am completely fine with a girl wearing leggings under a long tunic or shirt or a dress, I absolutely cannot stand when girls wear these out to class or on the street with North Faces or hoodies. It’s fine for the gym or when you’re lounging around at home, but how hard is it to put on a pair of jeans or something similar when you go outside? In fact, if it is so difficult, then why don’t you just put on a dress or a skirt? Sorry, rant over.

Anyway, from what I’ve seen most of the girls at my school dress fairly well for class, but they cannot be surpassed by the Italian girls, who are the epitome of style, teachers included. I’m not saying every girl should spend hours doing her hair and makeup and picking an outfit everyday, since that’s just not plausible and would take away the intrigue of ready-to-wear clothes. That doesn’t make it any less admirable that they put in the effort, however. It’s also interesting because the women here, most of them anyway, know how to age gracefully, in person and in fashion. Their wardrobe is age-appropriate and chic, which every woman should aspire to. The men are also very classy, whether they’re seen on the street or in the club. From my very limited pool of male friends, I can tout that the Italian men can even be more daring in their fashion than women. Brianna approved! 😉

I haven’t really been impressed with the selection in the regular stores here that you could find back in the states, such as H&M and Zara. Going for more Italian stores, or even checking out the markets, is a much better option (and probably a much cheaper one, too.) I saw this lovely tan peacoat-esque jacket in a side shop that I am dying to go back and purchase, and this was in a store not far from the 99 cento (which, by the way, is a wonderous place.) However, I am still totally willing to purchase certain basic essentials at the big brand stores when its necessary (H&M teal hoodie, I love you.) It’s really about layering pieces and mixing and matching your mass market clothes with your more original, one-of-a-kind pieces. Clothes are the perfect medium for self-expression; use them well!

An essential wardrobe addition that you can use easily to make a statement is a coat or jacket. Here in Italy, there are a few trends that I’ve noticed that are both very specific but also easy to apply anywhere in the world. I’ve seen all of these on at least 10 people all over Florence, and probably more for some of them. (sorry if some of these are a reiteration from a previous post!)

1. The quilted puffer jacket (aka the bane of my existence)

These are not aesthetically pleasing to me in any way whatsoever, but I understand the functionality and practicality of these. They come in a wide variety of colors, for both men and women, but so far the most prevalent are black, red and brown (the dark, neutral colors, like I mentioned previously, very popular.) These can be long down to the knee or at waist length, but they are always very puffy. For some reason, there are actually people who can pull these off, to my horror and delight. Perfect example, my gorgeous roommate Alla with her classic black puffer (although she could honestly pull off anything, including sweats, so maybe that’s an outlier example…)

2. The fur coat/vest

I am still in search of the perfect fur vest to layer over my jacket, as I’ve seen a few of the girls do here. In neutral colors, they add a little luxury and intrigue to any outfit, as well as texture and most importantly, warmth. I once saw a very impressive long teal vest in the window of Miss Sixty, it was totally bold. As for fur coats, they are most commonly found on the very chic old women who wander about Florence, but they look good on basically every woman I’ve seen so far. (While I’m not a supporter of actual fur items, faux fur alternatives are really cute and Macklemore would totally approve if you looked into them.

3. The military jacket (with or w/o leather shoulders)

One of my personal favorites, these usually-green beauties are perfect in lighter weather for market browsing or bar hopping. There is a specific kind with leather shoulders/arms from Zara that I’ve seen all over Florence. The jacket can add an edge to a floral dress, or it can be a good neutral to tone down a bright outfit underneath. These also come in long or short, and you can even customise your own (I added a flower patch over the hole on the back of the one I bought from Buffalo Exchange!) They also tend to have a fair amount of pockets, which is always a win in my book.

4. The leather jacket 

I’m pretty sure everyone already has one of these in their wardrobe, and if not, they should probably get one (there is faux leather out there too, for all us animal lovers!)       I very much miss my wine-colored cropped H&M jacket back in the States, but I made a lovely purchase (to be examined in my next post) at the local market for super cheap. One of the important points to make about these is that Italy is famous for its work with leather, in shoes, bags, and yes, jackets. They go with basically everything, being a classic, and layer just like the military jacket, but with many more color options. Cropped, waist-length, or long like a trench, leather jackets will never go out of style.

5. The trench coat

Another classic that everyone should own, the trench coat is another great lighter option, with the added bonus of usually making a fine rain coat (which will always remind me of the final scene in Breakfast At Tiffany’s! <3) Back at home, I have a very bright royal blue trench that I love to toss on to cheer me up or brighten up my outfit. I am still on the hunt for the *coveted* and original tan Burberry trench, but I’m biding my time for the perfect style. These have all different details besides color that make each trench interesting: belts, buttoning styles, shoulder tabs, material, etc. If you don’t already have a trench, there is a perfect one out there waiting for you! (Note: if you’re worried they’re too long because you’re tiny like me, you can always get a trench-style coat that stops at the waist. Still cute and versatile!)

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Expect another post in a day or so, finally. I witnessed some pretty horrifying fashion messes recently, and those will definitely come up, as well as some fashion highlights. I’m always really nervous about trying to snap photos of really stylish outfits even though I could just tell people I have a blog, so you may not get many photographic evidence. I promise I’ll be as detailed as possible and, as always, if there’s anything in particular you’d like to see or read about, feel free to drop me a comment or a message. I’ve been really happy experiencing all the fashion here in Florence, and I want to share it with all of you lovely people! 🙂 Stay snuggly, everyone! Baci! xx

Montreal a la Mode

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The weekend before last was quite an experience for me, and I was lucky enough to get a taste of fashion outside of my realm of “expertise.” I decided to spend my fall break in Montreal with some of my sisters through a school trip. What I found was very interesting, and quite different from the melting pot of the United States. Standing out in color seems to be much more in an American line of thinking. Montreal is a very industrial and business-oriented city, with a thriving nightlife.

We spent the first day mostly shopping after arriving in Montreal at about 10 am. Wandering les Rue, I was taken aback at the priciness of the clothing. However, I reconcile my opinion with the fact that most of the clothes we looked at seemed to be of high-quality and were well-made. Becky and Tammy made it of utmost importance to make a stop at Zara, which I found to be more out of my fashion element, although I was impressed at the store in general. It was interesting to me that Tammy was actually overwhelmed by the store, and much preferred the selection online to the bustle of the Canadians and tourists. Zara clothing seems to be very structured to me, a perfect blend of classic essence with the edginess of minimalism. Stir in dashes of trendiness and avant garde and you get very mature pieces that transition well in any situation or location.

A very popular store we noticed all over the city was Bedo, which perfectly encapsulated Montreal fashion in its window displays: monochromatic, typically dark-colored, minimalistic clothing. Personally, I think Bedo is much more edgy than Zara, which has a high-fashion business air about it. Leather is very prevalent, as are classic preppy prints with a darker spin. Jackets are very important, whether they are clean cut moto jackets or matte blazers.

It was very easy to find classic staples to build up your wardrobe in Montreal; Tammy purchased a fetching tailored military jacket, and Katie bought adorable leather ankle boots. Becky, who was recently offered a position at Deloitte, was looking to expand her work wardrobe with some fierce pieces. Myself, on the other hand, I like to mix up my wardrobe; defining my personal style is a process. It always interests me to see how people analyze clothing while shopping, including how they think pieces will assist in creating a more fluid personal style.

The big thing I was looking for was a black dress, very sleek and with cutouts or sheer pieces, something that doesn’t need a print to make a statement. I hopped from store to store, analyzing the perfect ratio of regular fabric to cutouts or sheer paneling, as well as whether I wanted another skater-skirted dress, or one more of the bodycon/form-fitting style. I tried on two dresses, and here are the differences between the two.

2013-10-19 black dress 1This dress at a store called Dynamite! was almost a must purchase. I love that the sheer panel in the middle is tasteful and gives the dress a little ‘oomph’. Knowing my general body shape, it is always a good idea for the skirt to taper as it goes down, giving me an actual shape (yay!) The only thing was the necessity to wear the dress with strapless lingerie, but other than that, the dress was pretty great. I don’t exactly think it is easy to transition between day and night, however, so I passed it up.

2013-10-20 black dress 2 frontFor me, this dress I found in Sirens was much more interesting/daring fashion-wise, but I think it was just much too scandalous for me. I love the high-low skirt, which perfectly fits the current trend in an edgy way, and that the top is leather. However, the cutout in the middle is unflattering for pretty much everyone who doesn’t have a washboard stomach. Also, the back of the dress was a T-strap that I couldn’t even zip up myself. Very edgy, but it was a pass.

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Overall, however, Montreal fashion is very wearable to me, and I think that I will definitely be taking some tips when I transition my wardrobe for my semester in Italy. Having multiple pieces that can be used again and again is definitely important, especially when traveling. I really liked the nightlife in Montreal, and people were very accommodating and had interesting stories to tell. They weren’t as different as I thought they would be, and it was exciting to visit another country and use a little bit of foreign language (Je voudrais une caffe, s’il vous plait!) What is the most interesting fashion you’ve noticed while traveling? Stay cultured, everyone!

 

 

Sometimes Being A Girl Has Its Perks… (And They’re Printed!)

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I’ll be honest; I have never been the type of girl who would be found toting around the ever-present bags and wallets of Lilly Pulitzer. The designs always seemed a little too cluttered for me, a little too girly. I also try not to fall into the trends of typical females (not to say that there aren’t some girls who work the look, no disrespect meant).

My opinion has changed, however, thanks to the company’s latest print, dedicated to my dear sorority, Alpha Chi Omega. After having spent a month or so entering multiple votes with my sisters on a Facebook contest, we were all thrilled to receive the winning design. They revealed the print concept on Instagram today to the catchy tune of Bruno Mars’ ‘Treasure‘, and I’ve definitely fallen in love. With our name and our lyre twisted in the stems of our bright red carnations, the Lilly designers have hit the nail on the head and enchanted all of us. This is one moment when I’m happy to embrace a very typical aspect of sorority life.

When I think about it, having a Lilly print has a legitimizing feeling for us, and that’s not to say that we are shallow types of girls who need to own pretty little totes to boost us up. But Lilly has revolutionized branding, and the company has certainly done well to give girls preppy, feminine pieces that are fun but classy. The original herself started out selling juice and started designing bright, collected print clothing after spilling on her dresses; talk about a stroke of genius.

And you know, I think girls should definitely look more into the brand, there really does seem to be a print for every type of person, whether you dance for joy at ’70s paisley or nautical that ties you up in knots. If print isn’t your thing, they have plenty of other options, including some very cute clothing lines (I was actually really surprised that Lilly wasn’t just for accessories, but go figure!) Lilly stores all over the country and the world carry everything from accessories and dresses to men’s clothing and stationery. Is there anything Lilly’s people can’t make?

So, Lilly, even though you’ve passed on to designer heaven, your lovely legacy lives on, and the brains you left behind have gleaned another happy (future) customer. Thank you for inspiring generations of girls and women to brighten up and turn what you’ve got into something beautiful. You’ll always be the Queen of Preps, but I think I’ll make an exception, just this once. Stay sunny, everyone.

ImageR.I.P Lilly Pulitzer Rousseau – April 7, 2013