There are many notable differences between the U.S. and Europe, and even more between Ann Arbor and Rome. While abroad this semester I find myself eating too much pasta, drinking too much wine and speaking too much English in this eternal city. If the food, language and culture aren’t enough of a drastic difference from good old AA, then the fashion most definitely is. In America, fashion and style more or less depend on various factors like age, social status and so on. In Rome, it’s as if these distinctions don’t exist. Everywhere you walk, no matter the time of day or the area you are in, Romans just have a certain “je ne sais quoi” about them.
Style here is not just a form of expression like in the States. While expressionism is a key component, style is just something that simply is. It’s like every man, woman and child here was born with an inherent sense of taste and eye for style. While in America, I plan out my outfits based on my day. There are days where I look nice and fashionable, and days where I look like I got hit by the same bus twice. But it’s just life — fashion at home is something with a switch to turn on and off. Celebrities are featured in magazines being “Just Like ‘Us’” wandering the streets without makeup and in an outfit made completely of elastic material. At the University, the majority of students who manage to make it to their 8 a.m.classes (if you do, good for you, seriously) are dressed in their pajamas, and that’s OK. The only reason I survived the polar vortex last year was because I was perpetually dressed in various sweats for months straight. But here in Rome, the switch is always turned on. There is no such thing as looking like shit or wearing a less than stellar outfit for the day, because Romans have this natural instinct to always dress to the nines.
Going even deeper, into my Roma Tres University sphere, every student is dressed like they should be on a super urban Instagram account or vlog. Personally, it is a much needed change of pace from the frat-star wardrobe — consisting of mid-calf socks, obnoxiously colored pants and black North Faces — that my peers of the opposite sex wear in the States. Fun fact, the above described wardrobe also happens to make you a moving target here. Might as well have a light up sign that says “ ‘Murica.”
I find myself adopting this Roman way of life, of style, of always looking “put together.” When in Rome, right? (Also happens to be my reasoning for when I find myself at a second gelato shop over the course of a few hours). But once I am back in Michigan, it is back to my sweats and Uggs unless the occasion calls for it otherwise.
So there you have it: style. Everyone in Rome has style, from the guy who makes your café in the morning, to the kids in your class, down to the old lady who holds the door for me as I walk to my 9 a.m. Style here is a way of life, not something you have or you don’t. It isn’t something you can buy or something you can trade. It just is.