“Whittle Your Waste Line”

Yes, I meant to spell it like that.  While a mind is a terrible thing to waste and a waist is a terrible thing to mind, THIS particular waste line is the rack of clothing in your closet that you absolutely don’t wear.

Ever.

I think our culture is ingrained to spend the last bits of the summer sorting clothing.  I know all those back-to-school sales have haunted me for weeks and now it’s time to do the deed and get rid of those shoddy t-shirts, faded shorts and distastefully worn out bathing suits.

That’s the easy part.

What about the quality items that you purchased and they just hang there, wasting away?  I know we’ve all paid good money for them.  I know we thought it would be perfect.  I know it’s not.  So now what?

There are a lot of options, but I think the first one is the classic, “your best defense is a good offense.”  Put a moratorium on shopping.  We are all guilty of shopping as an activity instead of a specific errand.  Clothing is too plentiful, too easy, too inexpensive, etc.  I do some of my best shopping from the comfort of my chair.  That.  Is.  Bad.

They say that French women’s closets are so sparse that the air can blow the items around with bliss.  (Most European countries don’t even HAVE closets which is a whole other set of issues.)  Imagine that.  I am embarrassed to count up the number of skirts that I own.  I think I’m in love with them all, but I know in reality, I’m not.  It becomes an emotional tie more than anything.

Holding on to something so tightly means you can’t open your hands for something else.  In order to create that energetic flow, we need to jump in feet first.

  • Dump all of your clothes on the bed.  It’s too late now, you’ll either sleep on them or shove them onto the floor and that’s not an option today.
  • Honestly hold up each piece.  If you can’t think immediately the last time you wore it, put it into a bag.
  • Continue this process until you’ve sorted each and every single piece.
  • Now relax, we’re not getting crazy.  Put this bag into the trunk of your car, the spare closet, wherever.  Leave it there for one month.  If you haven’t gone into that bag looking for an item, immediately bring it to your local Goodwill, a consignment shop or wherever these articles will find good homes with someone who will love them.

Trust me when I say that you won’t miss these pieces.  They were cluttering up your mind as soon as you got up in the morning and whether we admit it or not, that kind of fog affects us day in and day out.  A sparse clean line of quality clothing that you really and truly wear creates a sense of accomplishment and makes the morning rush a little less…well, rushed.

The beauty of clearing out clutter is that it becomes addictive and easier.  The Idea of Less is good.  Simple.  It opens up your day to other things.  Less Stuff means More….Non-stuff.

Can you feel the fresh air?

 

Shopping in Rome, Florence, Venice, Italy: Etiquette You Need To Know About European Shops

Shopping in Rome, (well in most of Europe) there are different social norms and customs that patrons are expected to know.  In the United States, people paw the merchandise, carry it around and then usually leave it somewhere it doesn’t belong.

This. Does Not. Happen. In. Italy.

Entering into a shop is like entering into someone’s home.  (While the larger mall like stores are more lax in this custom, for this article, I am addressing the small shops.)  When you enter into someone’s home, you immediately greet them.  This is expected in an Italian shop as well.

Vendors are ready to wait on you.  They want to serve and they are attentive.  When you walk in, say, “buon giorno” and smile.  They will greet you as well and may ask something along the lines of “Che cose’?”  This means loosely, “what would you like?”   It is expected that you do not touch the wares. Italians are very meticulous in their belongings and they frown upon the idea of someone else trying it on and touching it. In fact, if you are choosing to try it on, it is almost an unspoken expectation that you plan to purchase said garment.

Wha?????  How do I know I like it?  How do I know it will fit?  Trust me.  The salesperson will have sized you up correctly the moment you darkened their doorstep.  They will know precisely what size you need.  (An aside here is it may not be the size you want.  Sorry.  Their sizes are different anyway, so it doesn’t matter.)

If you are looking for a particular color, they will be happy to help.  When you walk into a shop, the first thing you may notice is that it is very sparse.  There may be one or two mannequins dressed in an ensemble, but that will be it.  The wall are usually lined with drawers or doors that host the goods.  Italians do not like to be overwhelmed with too much at once.  Much in the way they prefer their meals to be presented in unadorned sequence, they use the same principles for clothing stores.

You may like the scarf or the skirt on the mannequins so you can point to it and say, “Lo mi piace.”  This means “I like it.”  Suddenly, before  your very eyes, there will appear a bevy of this particular skirt or scarf or shirt in an array of colors and patterns and sizes.

If there is a certain color you are looking for, it would be a good idea to learn how to say it in Italian. (Most of the shops are housed with salespeople who can in fact, speak English, but they are so happy and proud of you when you attempt the native language, it’s adorable.)

Once you have decided what you will purchase, you can say something like, “Lo prendo.”  This means, “I’ll take it.”  This is the best part.  The salesperson will whirl you up to the cash register and prepare your new belongings for their journey home.  They use tissue wraps and ribbons and beautiful reusable bags with zippers.  It is a treat in itself to watch them.  The excitement overtakes you as you make your lovely purchase.

Try and maintain your dignity when you leave.  At least go around the corner before you begin squealing in delight.  Once, I purchased a scarf (well I made my husband purchase a scarf for me) on the via Condotti and I was so proud of myself for not tearing the package open and rolling around the streets on my new treasure.  That kind of behavior is an entirely different article.

 

Ode to an Old Purse

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The Author and Her New Sirni Bag

The Author and Her New Sirni Bag

Battered Leather, softened with time and the lip gloss that seeped through.

A faithful old friend that never left my side.

A part of myself that always provided for my needs.

My secret treasures, an enigma to others, and sometimes to myself.

As I set you in the back of my closet, I wonder what you would say if you could talk.

Would you say good bye and wish good luck to me

and have sympathy for my eager new clutch?

Instead, you settle into the shelf,

Fragrant with content memories….and the perfume I spilled on you.

-Cynthia Dite….age 18

What is it with handbags?

 I know for myself, I can’t get enough of them.  I love them.  I could spend all day in a store, playing with the pockets and straps and imagining what items of my own I would put into each little section.  Do you do that?  I know that I have an eccentric affinity for bags, but I’ve spoken with other women and some of the reasons THEY Love The Handbag….here are some answers-

  • “No matter what I weigh, it’s guaranteed to fit.”
  • “I can change my bag easier than my hair color.”
  • “Handbags don’t make your feet hurt like new shoes can do.”
  • “I can change my bag faster than I change my mood.”
  • “I feel secure with all my stuff with me.”

Handbags can last forever.  Why do YOU love your bags?

 

Bouquet of Memories: Signature Accessories

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ImageSignature accessories are always a source of interest to me.  How about you?  I love the idea of having something that no one else has.  It doesn’t have to be expensive, just meaningful.   Here’s an interesting and unique way to Make A Memory.  Choose a beautiful, long 36-inch chain.  Get one that is sturdy and wear it without a pendant….until you get see one that speaks to you.  Birthstones of your children, your husband’s initials, a feather, a cross, a quote, these are just the beginning of ideas….there’s millions of options.

If you are taking a vacation, buy a charm in each city that you visit.  Visit the local artisan fairs that are literally EVERYWHERE now.   You’ll be amazed at the unique and beautiful pieces that are made by local artists.  You can feel the effort and the energy in each piece they make.

Another idea is to try collecting all the same type of charm.  Buy something you love, like ducks, your initial, angels or even shoes.  Imagine a chain of only four-leaf clovers or stars.  Whatever makes you smile is what you should choose. See how many different ones you can find.

It will be one of a kind.  It will become a signature accessory.  When you’re wearing it, you’ll Feel Dressed.  Polished.  Special.  It will make you smile to hear it jingle when you walk.  You’ll miss it when you aren’t wearing it.

It may take you years to finish this necklace.  You may never declare it to be done.  There may always be another piece to add.  The more you wear it, the more It Will Become You.  It is like your life on a string.  Literally.

 

Pseudo-Neutrals: Leopards and Stripes

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A really simple idea for Dressing Well is mixing pseudo-neutrals.  Great!  What the heck is a pseudo-neutral?   Pseudo is the prefix for “false, fake, etc.”  Well, much in the way a polka dotted pattern is a neutral, the same is true for stripes and animal prints.  They are accepted as one design by our eyes.  We see them as a pattern, but at the same time, they are universal.  So, they’re fake neutrals because they will go with anything.  Take the leopard print.  It is everywhere in both clothing and accessories.  Shoes, bags, belts, you name it. Choose one piece as an accent….like a scarf.  Now, pair it with a nautical stripe.  It works.  Little pops of unexpected patterns can look really edgy.  It isn’t any more work to put on a leopard belt than a standard black leather one.  Yet it adds interest and texture.  Try this look with a simple skirt or a pair of dark wash straight leg jeans.  It’s elegant.  Like you.Image

Sirni Pelletteria, Roma, Italia: Part Two of a Zillion on Shopping

The author with her newest treasure.
The Author and Her New Sirni Bag

The Author and Her New Sirni Bag

I’ve talked before about the dizzying choices of goods to purchase when you are in Italy.  In the heart of the historic center of Rome, it is no different.  You will see goods that range from the sublime, to the ridiculously stupid.  I know.  I’ve bought them both.  I don’t know if you have the same sickness I have on vacation, but I have to confess, I feel like I’m on a hunt and I want to Bag Something Fab…so there is no pun intended when I tell you one of the best things to buy in Rome is a handbag.  The leather in all of Italy is like nothing I’ve ever seen.  My dear Great-Uncle Augusto wears the most beautiful shoes I have ever seen.  They are so beautiful and elegant.  I know they are soft.  I stop myself at throwing myself on the floor to rub my face on them, so I’m making an assumption here, but you can tell….

Famiglia Sirni

Famiglia Sirni

I’m pausing here for a moment to reminisce about those shoes……..

OK.  Back to shopping in Rome.  As I’ve said, it  offers as many choices as there are cobblestones.  You could always decide to choose something cheesy (which let’s face it, they’re funny to buy, especially that gross apron of “The David”) or buy your self  “Un Tipico Romano Regalo. ”    Leather. Handbags.

At Via Della Stelletta 33, you will find the most beautiful leather goods in Rome.  I am speaking of, none other than the world famous Sirni Pelletteria.  This beautiful little shop has been family owned and operated for over 50 years.  The current proprietors, Andrea and Rita, are a brother and sister duo who have inherited the gift of creating gorgeous handbags from their father.

The Mural of Andrea and Rita's Father over the work station

The Mural of Andrea and Rita’s Father over the work station

The inside of the shop is as sleek and beautiful as the bags.  Each piece is seated much like a monarch on a throne.  They just know they’re special.  Rita works the front of the store, managing the customers and the vast choices of bags.  She is an artist in every sense of the word, beautiful inside and out.  She welcomes people from all over the world.  Movie stars, celebrities and locals alike, recognize these bags for the treasures that they are.  Andrea is a genius sculptor.  His medium is leather and he painstakingly coaxes these pieces of leather into a spectacular monument.  Like I’ve written about before, when you are shopping in Rome, the store vendors wish to serve you.  Rita magically conjures any color or style bag you can imagine.  They also make custom designs.  People return to them year after year to custom order pieces like nothing else in Europe, or the world, for that matter.

The Work Room at Sirni Pelletteria

The Work Room at Sirni Pelletteria

more Famiglia Sirni

more Famiglia Sirni

 

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How do the Italians do it?

     Italian women are world renowned for their sense of fashion, their eyes for style and their ability to walk in high heels.  What’s even more impressive, is they have teeny, tiny little closets.  

     What??? How is that possible?  The first time I was in Italy I was given the privilege of seeing my cousin’s closet in Rome.  It was built into the wall, sleek, and impossibly tiny.  Living in La Citta Eterna means that there are centuries of Roman architecture and art, masses of humanity, and Not A Lot Of Space.  I suppose it’s a trade off….

     The secret is in selection.  Instead of having ten pairs of black trousers, she had one.  Tailored, lined, perfect.  It probably cost a fortune, but just up front.  When I consider how many not quite right pairs of black trousers I have purchased, I’ve probably spent more than she had.  Imagine only having a tiny closet of clothes that fit, match one another, and make you feel beautiful.  

Own less. It’s more.

Traveling light is an idea that has appealed to me for years.  I’ve read articles and blogs about lightening the load, packing less, double duty toiletries….but I think the real appeal is that when you HAVE less, you have MORE.  There is a sense of freedom that comes with Owning Fewer Belongings.  I love the sense of detachment from my stuff.  The Bible says not to store your treasure where moths and thieves can get at it, but rather to store them in heaven.

Beautifully put.

I wonder, if I had to evacuate my house due to pending natural disaster, what things would I take?  Obviously, since my family and my pets are not things, but living beings, they don’t count.  I would already have them in the car.  However; if I were to take a look back into the house of what was Worthy of Saving, what would it be?

I wear the same jewelry all the time.  It’s part of me.  Each piece was given to me by special loved ones.  They hold sentimental value and they have meaning.  I am never without them.

I carry my Bible in my bag….the bag itself would be worth saving.  It was purchased in Italy at The Sirni Pelletteria in Rome.  (That’s a whole other story.)  Dishes?  Candles? Appliances?  Even photographs that are priceless to me have already been loaded out into cyberspace.

Toys?  I do have a lovely china doll my husband put into my Christmas stocking one year after I told him that was my dream as a child to see one peeking out of my stocking.  I would take her….and my purple sock monkey.

What would you bring?  What is Worthy to Ride Away from Disaster?