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Fashion by Felicia

Felicia Caponigri | Tuesday, April 26, 2011

True love only happens once in a lifetime. While many of us desire to be on par with our idol Elizabeth Taylor, the truth of the matter is that great women like are the exception, not the rule. Nevertheless, when love strikes it does so with speed and intensity. One look and you can kiss your previous existence goodbye. You are forever changed. Of course, the best of us know that this type of all-consuming amore always hits hardest when one is abroad. Out of our day-to-day rituals, we are more vulnerable and open to new experiences. Suddenly, we try that restaurant that we otherwise would have shunned, we interact with people we would have avoided, finding long-lost kindred spirits in the process. Some of us even become totally different people — you know who you are — letting our inner wild child loose in unspeakable ways. On the other hand, some find a previously dormant sense of responsibility. All this, of course, leads to the culmination of the ideal study abroad experience — the one moment when you look across la strada and see the one with whom you vow never to live without. I myself have had this life changing experience while on vacation in Southern Italy. While walking across a cobbled street one hot summer afternoon, I spotted my true love(s) through a window. They immediately promised comfort, chic-ness and to never leaved me unloved. I promptly took them home with me, introduced them to all my friends and when spring and summer are on the horizon, I take them out on the town. Indeed, the espadrille and I have been a happy couple ever since our fateful meeting many years ago.

The espadrille is a staple of any Mediterranean spring/summer wardrobe and has been the fateful fashion lover of many a great artist, actress and even politico — think Picasso, Grace Kelly and even JFK. First worn by Catelan foot soldiers in the 14th century, this footwear has been appropriated over the centuries by many European vacationers. Characterized by its jute sole and a raffia-like material, it is eco-friendly and sends an aesthetic vibe of savage, untamed luxury. Historically flat, Yves Saint Laurent elevated it with a platform sole, causing women everywhere to invite it onto their summer party circuit. With a cloth toe and an open back, the best part of espadrilles is their long laces, which can be tied with abandon along the entire calf, emphasizing those hard won results of your latest work-out. The neutral-colored sole allows designers to go wild with color on the upper part of the shoe. Usually paired with articles of clothing that show off the laces, such as skirts or shorts, you can also make your espadrilles work with your favorite pants by tying the laces low by your ankle. Best of all, espadrilles are still manufactured in the classic flat form, making them a perfect unisex fashion item which you can encourage your significant other to wear instead of sneakers, following in the great style-footsteps of Cary Grant. Like any great love, the best part of espadrilles is the feeling of support and stability they give you during those long days of work and study, while still making you weak at the knees with their beauty. DSW currently has a high- heeled pair for $44.95, and a flat variety for $29.95. Happily ever after, I’m on my way. 

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The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.

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Fashion by Felicia

Felicia Caponigri | Monday, April 4, 2011

There are some things in life I consider inalienable rights. While the Declaration of Independence of our dear, beloved country may consider these to be among the greater themes — life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — I consider smaller issues to be just as, if not more, inalienable. These include but are not limited to: shopping, traveling around the globe, visiting museums, attending good entertainment, lounging in bookstores for hours on end and my own “Italian moments.”

 

The last may seem intriguing. Indeed, it is the very “pane e vino” of my existence. As any student who has drunk from the Bacchus blessed fountain of the study abroad experience knows, days in Italy are not spent solely in the pursuit of study, but in the pursuit of the Italian life. In other words, there are many cappuccino breaks.

 

Indeed, the day is defined by the morning jaunt to the local bar for “cappuccino con un bombolone” (translation, coffee and a doughnut, but oh how much more glamorous it sounds in that Romance language!). Then comes a mid-morning coffee break. Later there’s pranzo, followed by a two hour afternoon break where we all join our friends for relaxed conversation in the piazza. Afterward we head back to work for just a few hours before breaking once again for a congenial aperitivo and three-course dinner.

 

Ah, I can feel you sighing as the memories come flooding back. Remember those days of meeting your friends around the corner after class to watch the water flow from the Trevi fountain? The afternoons spent crossing the Ponte Vecchio in pursuit of that perfectly scooped gelato? Before you moan that these days are lost to you forever, fear not. Darling, we may not be in Italy, but who says we can’t have our own “Italian moment” stateside? All we need is that classic staple of Italian casual living: the driving shoe.

 

The Italian driving shoe is, let’s be frank here, a loafer with attitude. Originally made for the obligatory Italian weekend drive to the country from the bustle of the city (hence the name “driving shoe”), it immediately conveys relaxed luxury.

 

Made of leather, which, as we know from our experience with the leather satchel, molds to your everyday personal needs, the driving shoe is most often worn with a pair of crisp jeans, an oxford shirt, a great tote and a killer pair of shades.

 

When choosing a driving shoe, obey the fit rules of the loafer: never more than a quarter of an inch space between the back of the shoe and your heel, your toes should lay flat and allow for luxurious wiggle room. The best part of driving shoes are the absolutely delectable, decorative raised rubber circles which align the backs, emphasizing your slim ankles and the attractive curves of your legs as you promenade per la strada.

 

This decoration also has a practical purpose: when driving it prevents the heel of your shoe from sliding forward, and also prevents the scuffing of that fine Italian leather. While traditionally Italians have flocked to Tod’s to purchase this fashion right of passage, Zappos currently offers a pair for $79.00. While this may seem steep, keep in mind they last for years and are a wonderful investment. So, dear readers, if the shoe fits, wear it … Italian style.

 

 

The views expressed in this   column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Felicia Caponigri at fcaponig@nd.edu