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Style Inspiration from Novels

December 7th, 2010

Over the years, I have found style and fashion inspiration by characters in novels.
Recently I revisited two of my favorite books: “Henry and June” by Anais Nin and her diary covering the same time period: 1931 to 1934.

Here is how June’s style is described by Anais in three instances:
“Then June came, all in black velvet, black cape and her hat with a feather shading her eyes.”

“Did any woman ever wear shabby shoes, a shabby black dress, a shabby blue cape and an old violet hat as she wore them?”

“June dark, secret under the brim of her Greta Garbo felt hat, heavy-caped, tragic and pale.”

Of course all these photos are of Uma Thurman playing June, but you get the idea.

I am a huge fan of Anais and Henry Miller. Once, as a reporter, I got a private tour of Miller’s home in Big Sur, overlooking the ocean, but that is a whole another story.

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  1. December 7th, 2010 at 10:12 | #1

    Gorgeous pics Kristi — I did not even recognize Uma. I’m a sucker for “between the wars” style.

  2. December 7th, 2010 at 10:52 | #2

    Polly,
    what a great surprise to hear from you. I remember touching base with you so often on FC! I’ve given up all my blog reading. I just can’t fit it in with the other things I want to do during my spare time.
    The shots are gorgeous, aren’t they. I love this movie. I think I’m going to put the DVD on my Christmas wish list!

  3. aaonce
    December 10th, 2010 at 07:26 | #3

    Uma looks stunning! I just love the drama in her clothing. I haven’t seen this movie–so I will check it out 🙂

  4. December 10th, 2010 at 17:47 | #4

    Great pics! Seeing as how velvet is so in fashion right now it’s nice to think that designers can draw style inspiration among other things from such great novels!

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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.