One way to cultivate La Dolce Vita, the sweet life Italian-style, is by paying special attention to the fabrics in your life. Not just clothing, although that is very important, but also your sheets, blankets, pillows, table covers, and other home decor.
Let’s Start With Fashion
When I was growing up and devouring fashion magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, I thought all high fashion or haute couture was from France. And while the French indeed have done wonders in the fashion world (Where would we be if there was never a Coco Chanel?), the fashion capital of the world is considered Milan. Italian fashion houses are known for their exquisite attention to detail. The region of Lombardy, and Milan in particular, has been a major center for textile production since the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
When I think back to my favorite designers as seen in those magazines, most of them are indeed Italian. Giorgio Armani, of course, comes to mind. Also, Alberta Ferretti, Gianni Versace, Emilio Pucci, Romeo Gigli, Dolce & Gabbana, Bruno Magli and Salvatore Ferragamo for shoes. They are like fairy-tale names to me.
A while back I wrote about How To Be Glamorous and dressing myself in luxurious fabrics. Fabrics like silks and satins, which glow in the light. Velvets feel amazing. In summer, I love a white eyelet blouse.
You may think you need a special occasion to wear luxury. But your life is the special occasion. Live it fully every day. Put on the silk blouse.
Look to the movies for inspiration. I love to watch old movies from the 1930s for the over-the-top gowns on display. The sets in those movies were all so crazy. Huge art deco staircases, sofas with fur throws, and everyone holding beautiful cocktail glasses.
Bringing Luxury Into Your Home
Luxury to me means cozy. Soft fabrics, loads of pillows. I don’t recommend satin sheets. Although they look beautiful, they have a way of slipping constantly off the bed. And they don’t breathe. But if you buy beautiful cotton sheets in a high thread count, they improve with age. Washing them often makes them softer and softer. Cotton breathes well and you can always dress up your bed with satin pillows. Sleeping on a satin pillow is supposed to be good for preventing wrinkles. I don’t know how true this is, but it sure doesn’t hurt, does it?
I love to keep a cozy throw on my couch. In fact, my couch is rather luxurious. It’s red velvet. Sounds intimidating, doesn’t it? Like something out of a bordello. But it’s actually quite proper looking. You can catch a glimpse of it in these picture from my article about Afternoon Tea at Home.
Here are some ideas to add luxury to your life:
- Wrap yourself in a soft, thick, luxurious towel after a hot shower. I have great big ones made of bamboo fibers. They resist mold and are so big I could wrap them around my body twice.
- Rest your head next to a smooth, cool, cotton pillow.
- Serve dinner on a thick woven placement.
- Get out of bed in the morning and wiggle your toes in a soft, fuzzy rug.
- Wrap yourself in a brightly colored pashmina or silk scarf.
- Wear a crisp white shirt or a pair of soft faded jeans.
- Slip into pastel-colored cashmere socks.
- Try a tweed riding jacket with velvet color.
- Knit or crochet yourself a scarf or hat.
- Buy yourself a beautiful robe.
- Know you have silk undies or delicate lace panties underneath your clothes.
La Bella Figura
Italians like to put their best foot forward. They invented the concept of la bella figura. It literally means the beautiful figure. It’s about presentation, how you look, the impression that you make. For Italians, it also means how to act beautiful in social situations, etiquette, making others feel comfortable, knowing how to wear a scarf with ease, being a wonderful hostess, etc.
But I encourage you to go one step further and create la bella figura for yourself. Treat yourself well. Dress yourself in luxurious fabrics to make you feel wonderful. Surround yourself with beautiful textiles. When you are comfortable and feel exquisite, your attitude will show to others. Take care of yourself first, then you can care for others.
Buy the Italian leather gloves and then hold someone’s hand.
How will you add luxurious fabrics to your life?