Home > Literature, Mangia! Mangia!, Style > On my nightstand/Wednesday

On my nightstand/Wednesday

February 17th, 2010

 The Gospel According to Coco Chanel by Karen Karbo    — Very cute book. I cherry picked it however. I’m not big into the history of France or Chanel’s personal history. I just wanted to glean some style tips from it, so I skipped the historical parts. Oh well.

Your Carriage Madam by Janet Lane — got this out-of-print book from the library on recommendation of Marsi. I’m only a few pages into it, but love it so far. I’m already improving my posture.

Dusty Answer by Rosamond Lehmann — This is actually the current book I’m reading (along with Your Carriage Madam). It reminds me of Tana French’s Likeness is an odd way as it deals with inclusive groups of friends viewed by outsiders.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness — I saw this book on The Evening Reader’s blog and ordered it from the library.

Franny & Zoey by J.D. Salinger — Of course like people across the world I now want to re-read this.

The Nautical Chart by Arturo Perez-Reverte — I adore this author and snatched this up at the thrift store.

Reading Lolita in Tehran — another thrift store buy I will wait to read.

Brava Valentine  by Adriana Trigiani — I am trying very hard to wait to read this until my bookclub does.

Leone’s Italian Cookbook — my Italian father sent to this me as a surprise gift in the mail. (it’s off to the side)


The Human Stain by Philip Roth — Some of you might have seen this book in my last posting. I returned it to the library without reading it. I do that sometimes when a book doesn’t immediately grab me and I happen to have a big fat stack of good books to read.

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  1. aaonce
    February 18th, 2010 at 06:38 | #1

    Wasn’t overly impressed by The Gospel according to Coco. Some of the history in it (mostly in the beginning of the book) held my interest but the rest of the book, well…. Want to check out “Your carriage, Madame”. I haven’t read The Nautical Chart, but I have read the author before-will put that on the list.
    Great scarf by the way! I like the accent it provides to the outfit.

  2. February 18th, 2010 at 06:48 | #2

    I am also loving that scarf. In fact, I love all of your scarves. Maybe they deserve a post of their own . . .

    Also really liked yesterday’s boho look, K. Very nice on you, esp with the silver hoop earrings.

    • February 18th, 2010 at 07:38 | #3

      Thanks. I like both looks as well. I only have a handful of scarves because I’m really picky about them, but maybe I will photograph them …
      Nancy and Aaonce,
      It’s funny, we both liked opposite parts of the Chanel book! I’m glad you’re joining the Not a Cent in Lent. I’m hoping to save all that stupid money I spend on little things without really thinking about it. It is a good Lent sacrfice for me because I will definitely feel it.

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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.