Italian lifestyle: Perception of Status Symbols

Many people, more than you would imagine, think that simply purchasing an expensive handbag, like an LV bag, suddenly makes them look powerful, well-educated, intelligent, rich, and maybe even more attractive. In my opinion, they just spent a huge amount of money that goes straight into the profit for companies like LV. That’s all.

Instead, designers like D&G (and similarly Prada) change styles continuously and sell a “unique and rare” design piece. My Italian friend, who makes great purses, unveiled his secret a long time ago:”the hardest part of designing a purse is in the research of new materials and combining them together". I was shocked, because I always had thought that the effort was in the design itself! Therefore, I respect these Italian designers because their goods are a kind of “artistic piece” with a fair price.

Do you wear fashion like LV? Then you may want to read this:

Awhile ago I dined in Los Angeles with some wealthy people who were invited by friends of friends to dine with us. As expected, they arrived decked-out in LV goods. All during the dinner, I was making recommendations to the waiter of the Italian restaurant about the preparation and service of the meal, taking care about the ingredients, the wine, and also the water, and while some of them noticed I was taking these steps to ensure a quality meal, they did not appear to understand them. In Italy, this kind of "drama” over the preparation of food is not necessary because over there the waiters are hired according to their skill and knowledge about food and wine. It seems that elsewheere they are hired because they are smart, young, and nice people that take your order and bring the food and bills with a smile. If you want to prove me wrong, then the next time you are in Italy try to find a waiter that falters on the basic questions about the difference between the Tagliatelle and Fettuccine, or as regards the wine he falters between the Nebbiolo and the Barolo (huge difference) that I find that waiters elsewhere are rarely able to explain. But this is another post I’ll write about at a later time.

When I took the time to explain why I helped ensure care for the meal, they treated me like an "expert" and asked for some suggestions. Once they discovered that I suggested a $20 wine bottle, they reacted almost disgusted. Since they were not drinkers – that’s what they told me – they always bought the cheap, couple of dollar wine bottles! As if my half glass (2 oz) of great wine at dinner would make me a “drinker”! Actually, I should mention that I don’t drink either wine or beer if it’s not truly worth it. Instead, I replace alcohol with cranberry juice. After all, what’s the purpose of intoxicating our body with alcohol if it’s not worth it?

Continuing on with the conversation, they also expressed disappointment about their tour in Italy because of the driving, the traffic, the “unacceptable” line at the Uffizi museum in Firenze, and the cost of the food and the wine, and a host of other little complaints about the experience. Afterward, I also learned that they booked their tour with an Asian-American travel agency in order save some money on the arrangements. Again, it seems like a key point seems to have been missed.

Or, maybe it is me who is missing the point here. Is an LV bag enough of a status symbol? Is it just a matter of money?

I firmly disagree that either of these things implies a certain status. Instead, I believe that living the Italian Lifestyle is a good example of acquiring a status symbol that doesn’t necessarily need a lot of money! You would love meeting many of my friends in Italy that regardless of their bank account balance, care about food and wine as well as history, the arts, the theater, etc. They dress very elegantly and are comfortable in those clothes because they understand the value behind the long-lasting quality, fabrics, and the latest Italian designs.

These friends will lavish whatever limited resources they have on their friends; they invite them over to offer the best specialties and the highest quality wines. My sister in Italy likes to joke, saying: ”I have realized that inviting a few friends over for dinner costs more than buying them a dress”. There is no cheap option: it’s just pure passion for life!

It may come down to a choice for others, but for the Italians, this is our LIFESTYLE! This love for the "dolce vita" is the most important status symbol in my opinion. You might eventually cultivate this lifestyle if you have more money. But, not the other way around.

All I ask is that you think it over and let me know which of these “status symbols” is best for you!

Enjoy your day with a little break of Italian Dolce Vita,

Matteo Silvestri

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