Styling in Italy – or NOT!

Canal in Livorno - cool city on the coast

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” – 1 Sam 16:7

Today’s post is about style. Or at least style as I understand it. I don’t read People Magazine, I don’t peruse G-Q, I’m not a fan of Entertainment Tonight (or any night), and I don’t watch the “red carpet” parade before the Oscars; but I do have enough awareness to recognize style when I see it and I have to say they have it in spades here in the land of fashion.

I had a “heads up” about this a couple of weeks back when Andrew’s friend Alicia tagged him in a photo from their weekend in Vienna. Actually it was Naomi who was impressed by the way her brother dressed. “Andrew’s looking all G-Q” she said. Italy is evidently rubbing off.

Andrew in Vienna a couple of weeks ago

This week I have been aware of how well the average Italian on the street dresses. Even the waiter who brought me my cappuccino at breakfast was in his best coat and tie.

Then I went shopping with Andrew in Livorno this afternoon. He was looking for a shirt in Zara, one of the department stores. So I poked around the men’s section for a few minutes. All I can say is, “Wow!” It was intoxicating. The elegance was casual, understated, but subtly obvious. I actually took a couple of jackets off the rack to try on and was surprised at how reasonable the prices were.

It’s not so much that fashion here is accessible as it is mandatory.

Sporting the "casual" look in Livorno

REALITY CHECK: Then I caught sight of myself in the dressing mirror. “Comfort fit” travel jeans; hiking shoes; and a sweatshirt. It seemed to me I had two options. Either spend a couple of hundred Euro to look good or slink out of the store. Or possibly a third – be arrested by the Carabinieri for crimes against fashion!

I wasn’t so much embarrassed by how I look (I mean I do take care of myself, I exercise, and I’m not overweight) as aware of how much better I could do in the appearance department. I honestly struggled a little with myself regarding the credit card in my pocket, and I left the men’s department looking over my shoulder….

Balance: I understand that this is a question of balance, and priorities, and the limited value of appearances. But – and I’m thinking out loud here, not offering answers – today caused me to think about how the way that I present myself plays in to my credo about excellence, and my commitment to live in a way that honors God in every aspect of the way that I am.

from Milan - our 2009 visit...

SCRIPTURE: I’m aware of the idea behind the Samuel passage I quoted at the opening of today’s post. The idea conveyed is very important. But here’s my question: If I really am a man with a heart that is open and true, a man with a heart that God values (and I believe that I am), then why not pay some attention to the outward appearance as well?

Don’t worry, I’m not going back to that stylish department store with money I don’t have… But today has caused me to think. And isn’t that the purpose of this blog, to consider what it means to live the life-charged life?

Peace, and style (from Italy) – DEREK

The Life That Truly is Life The Life-Charged Life Travel

derekmaul View All →

Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at, and there’s always something new in the works.

Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.

Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.

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