I still remember the first time my Italian professor showed up in the same outfit she had worn the day before; her hair piled up high on her dark-haired head above the purple blouse and funny purple cropped pants atop her Italian leather heels.
My class of nine whispered among ourselves – had she had a one-night-stand? We knew she was single. Did she think we wouldn’t notice that she had worn the same purple outfit yesterday?
However, it wasn’t the first time that our signora showed up to class in a duplicate of the outfit she wore the day before. Actually, it became so commonplace that we all started to do it a little bit too as our time in Florence wore on and it became more and more evident that this was the norm and not the result of a misplaced one-night-stand.
If you ever had the good fortune of opening an Italian woman’s closet, you would be surprised to see that there isn’t much in there. Unlike my American closet stuffed to the brim to coincide the boxes of winter clothes under my bed (and in the attic), Italian women have small closets with lots of beautiful things. You will not find a trunk full of items bedazzled with last year’s trends or cheap, holey shirts from Forever 21 – instead, you will find chic, classic pieces that were meant to last a lifetime and have the price tag to prove it.
In America, it’s a major faux pas to wear the same outfit twice in two days or even twice in one week – I feel a little funny even when I come across a Facebook photo of me wearing the same ensemble on two separate occasions; like my womanly secret has been given away. In Italy, the opposite is true – because if it looked good today, why not wear it again tomorrow?
And maybe that’s how our budgets across pond lines even out – in America, we drop dollars on tons and tons of cheap pieces to fill up our walk-in closets and one season later, we send it off to Salvation Army or our little sisters and start the process all over again. Our big closets make us fill obligated to wear it all, and we’re constantly on the lookout for the newest ensemble using our boring, run-of-the-mill items so that we can chase after the celebrities we yearn for. However, in Italy, tiny closets filled with designer pieces are adorned with beautiful details and it actually becomes easier to put something interesting together – even if you wear it the next day, too.
Somehow, a couple weeks in, arguably, the most fashionable country in the world can make a purple outfit worn day after day seem chic – even to a group of nine bratty American college students. We stopped whispering about our signora soon after that, although I don’t think she noticed nor cared in the first place.
I’m wearing the same outfit I wore on Friday tomorrow – and I dare you to point it out.