Saturday, July 14, 2007

The extinction of sequins



After reading a few posts about clothing choices and different standards for dressing up/down courtesy of Kataroma, Shelley, and Nyc/Caribbean Ragazza, I started thinking about the differences between Italian-Americans and Italians when it comes to clothing. Growing up as a first generation American (my parents are old-skool Italians), I specifically remember being forced to wear fancy clothes for certain occasions like weddings, holidays, parties, funerals, and Mass. Even picture day at school was considered a fancy event, my mother always tried to dress me up as if I were having my First Communion and I would always put up a stink. The American kids were usually dressed casually on picture day, while all of the first generation kids (Puerto Ricans, Italians, etc) were usually awkwardly fancy, or at least that’s how it was in my neck of the woods! Still to this day when I go home to visit the family, my mother will comment on my overly-casual choice of clothes for events like Christmas Mass and whatnot.
If I think back to all the Italian-American weddings I had to endure, the one memory that stands out is: SEQUINS. Without fail, all of the older women wore shiny dresses on these special occasions. I always found it so odd to see my grandmother, who normally wore black housecoats and aprons year-round, all dolled up and in her shiny sequin dress. For ages, I assumed it was an “Italian” thing. But I was mistaken. Once I started spending more time in Italy, I noticed that my young/modern aunts and their kids were always dressed casually but chic. Even for fancy events like weddings and Mass, they would dress their kids in nice jeans (they ironed them!) and a stylish shirt or sweater. They managed to never look sloppy or underdressed without resorting to sequins. In Rome there’s a whole different dress code which I often describe as casual-skanky, but I'll save that topic for another post.
Viva causal chic! Maybe that’s why I decided to move to Italy…

5 comments:

Rose in Cali said...

I had the same experience growing up in California, except I had to wear a dress to school everyday! It took years to convince my mom that American kids wear jeans to school.

PLEASE write the post about "casual-skanky"!

Ms. FoxyRoxy said...

I can't imagine wearing Lulumelon (yoga wear) to work.
If you don't mind sending me the info for that company you worked for, that would be great.
I am looking forward to the move and expect the adjustment to be difficult.

Calabrisella said...

I know exactly what you mean!
...miei genitori,e i nonni; made me dress up , with my perfectly shined black maryjane leather shoes... and my perfectly taylord dresses....
I came to america at the begining of high school... my parents still had the hardcore italian catholic school mentality....oy vai!

Kataroma said...

Strangely enough, my Swedish dad also got on my case about dressing too casually. But this was when I was 16 or so not when I was 8. He thought since I was now a "young woman" I should wear high heels and makeup all the time and I was happier dressing like all the other kids -in jeans and t-shirts. I think this had less to do with Swedish culture and more to do with the fact that he left Sweden in 1963 and somehow his view of how a woman should dress was frozen in time.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

This post made me laugh. I am a first generation American and I battled constantly with my parents about clothes (and lost 90% of the time I might add).