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Love Me Some Accessories

November 11th, 2010

I’ve never been a handbag gal. I have fewer than a handful, but for some reason the older I get the more I like them. I put aside my designer bags recently and am schlepping an olive green messenger bag from my local Army Navy Surplus store. It can be worn cross body and is decidely nonchalant.
From the stamp on the inside, it is from 1962 and was issued to a soldier in Vietnam. That soldier’s initials — VA are marked with ink on the top handle of the bag. Needless to say I adore it. And can pretty much guarantee nobody else is walking around with one just like it. The woman at the Army Navy Surplus store told me “Don’t let this out of your sight — they don’t make these anymore.”
The funny thing is, I see all sorts of women around me who are wearing expensive bags that look like military bags. I just love the history of owing a vintage bag that belonged to a soldier before I was born.
That doesn’t stop me from looking. Bluefly has been a staple site for me to browse for years.
I really like the designer handbags like the CC Skye bag.
I worry that it won’t fit over my shoulder, though. I love how the grommets add a bit of masculine toughness to the bag. Anyone famliiar with this designer?
I seem to gravitate toward handbags that don’t have any discernible label. How about you?

Like my love of bags, my love of shoes is only recently emerging. I think I wore my Doc Marten lace up boots for 10 years straight. I am shying away from heels unless they are sandals or designed for going out. I used to swear by hihg-heeled ankle boots in the winter, but really like more masculine shoes to balance out my outfit. I adore my new Frye boots. They add a certain tough edge to anything I wear.
I like the Calvin Klein black Ryann flat booties, a good example of some Designer Shoes that would probably last awhile. They remind me of something Clemence Poesy would wear.

I love the designer dresses, such as this Qui black cashmere scoopneck dress. I recently bought this (above) Eli Tahari dress and envision wearing it for years to come. I’ve bought lesser known brands but really believe if you are buying an investment piece a designer dress is the way to go. It is in the quality. It is in the way it drapes and falls on my body. I really love it. It is the quintessential LBD that I have owned in one form or the other for the past few years. I’ve had problems with them being too tight or too short and this one seems to conquer all those issues.

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  1. November 11th, 2010 at 19:43 | #1

    I like the army surplus bag! It’s so unique and fits in with your style perfectly. And a cashmere dress??? I’m sorry but that just sounds divine. It must feel great on you. I’m a huge fan of cashmere anything. What a great investment piece.

    • November 12th, 2010 at 07:25 | #2

      Whoops that might have been a bit confusing — sorry. I bought the Eli Tahari dress in the picture — the sleeveless one as my LBD but am lusting after the cashmere dress … although really in my climate I should just buy it because I would definitely get use out of it for ages.
      And I really like my bag. Thanks!

  2. Robin
    November 12th, 2010 at 12:51 | #3

    Great bag. I’d love to see how it looks with your clothes. I love the cashmere dress. I have one of my wish list.

    • November 12th, 2010 at 12:55 | #4

      OK, I’ll try to take a pic … today is gray and yucky so maybe tomorrow …

  3. November 13th, 2010 at 14:03 | #5

    ooooo – love this bag – I must admit I’m a little green with envy:-)

    • November 14th, 2010 at 07:10 | #6

      It’s funny because I was trying to find the exact military bag I carried in college. I didn’t but this is close, so it evokes memories of those carefree days. In addition, my super chic friend from Copenhagen had the same bag so I thought it was extra cool.

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What is it about those Italian women? You know the ones I’m talking about: beautiful, sexy, dressed to the nines just to take the kids to the park. They have a certain something that is indefinable. It is in the way they dress, the way they prepare their meals, the way they spend their leisure time.

It is because they know the importance of la bella figura. Roughly translated from Italian, it means putting you best foot forward in everything you do. It means cutting a beautiful figura. The opposite of la bella figura is la brutta figura, which is what someone might say about the falling down drunken guy at the party or the super tackily dressed woman at church. It means ugly figure.

La bella figura is much more than your appearance. It goes much deeper than that. It is about how you act. It is about how you treat others. It is about how you care for yourself, your home and your family. Living a life in line with la bella figura doesn’t take money. In fact, it is more about how to have class without a lot of money.

Someone who exudes la bella figura will have clean, pressed clothes and be well groomed. They will not be rude or sloppy. Their fingernails will be impeccably groomed. Their hair shiny and clean and their shoes will be polished. They will not have stray threads hanging from their suit hems. They will not be driving a car in need of the car wash.

La bella figura means driving that 15 year old car and meticulously cleaning it and caring for it. It means keeping your belongings in good repair. It means taking time to clean your house and not cluttering it up with meaningless objects.

When you focus all your spare energy, time and money on the things that bring you the most amount of pleasure, then you are truly living a life in line with la bella figura. The best part about it is that you don’t have to be Italian to do so. You just have to think like an Italian.

Italian children are raised to present la bella figura in whatever they do. From the time they are small and are groomed perfectly to attend church or school, they know that appearances count. They count because it is the first thing people judge about you. That first impression does matter. Appearances are also important because when you take the time to look nice, you are showing that you care about yourself. When you care enough to look good, it shows you have good healthy self esteem. Nothing is more attractive than self confidence.

In addition, dressing nice also shows respect for others. If you invite people over for dinner and greet them in flip flops, baggy sweats and a stained shirt, it is really disrespectful to them. The same if you dress sloppy to go to church or even to the market. By dressing nicely and being well groomed, you show respect for everyone in your world.

Having la bella figura means presenting yourself in the best light possible in all your interactions.