When in Rome

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The white lace dress I wore to my bridal shower is probably my current favorite. This is one that would work anywhere, I believe…

Have you ever been to a new city and felt like your clothing, while on-trend and perfectly suitable at home, made you stick out? I often find that no matter how extensive my research, I am in this predicament when I go somewhere new. Within the US, it always surprises me. I mean, we’re all reading the same magazines, right? But there are these fantastic cultural shifts from one city to the next, and from the city to the burbs, and so on, that fascinate me endlessly.

When we moved to Dallas, for example, I couldn’t believe how dressed everyone was. I was coming from Brooklyn where I donned lacy dresses sans bra, beat-up Ferragamo skimmers, and a distressed Commes de Garcon crossbody every time we hit the town in summer. We touched down in Dallas and went straight from the airport to a dinner at Del Frisco’s. In my black lace Betsey minidress and flat shoes, I felt dowdy as I looked out at a sea of bodycon mini’s and patent platforms.

I soon learned to marry my personal style to the locals, without losing my sense of self. I’m sure my sartorial choices still stick out a bit, but I’m fine with that. I do enjoy the occasional night on the town, though, in a short, tight dress that would be totally out of place on the pier in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge.

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This look from the ground up: Cole Haan beige suede Oxfords, Wolford cotton velvet tights, Catherine Malandrino pleated skirt, Marc Jacobs cotton blouse, Uniqlo black wool cardigan.
This look allover: American tourist!

The same thing happens when we travel. Josh and I headed off to Paris for a weekend this spring, and I was prepared for the ultimate in chic. What I was not prepared for, though, was the walking. Everywhere, walking. It was kind of chilly and I had no coat, so I purchased a white leather bomber on our first morning there. And my Cole Haan oxfords were my day wear, slightly loud for Paris, but cute nonetheless. At night, though?

For our big dinner out on the town, I wore a rainbow-hued, tie-dyed mini dress with sheer tiers of fabric cascading down each side. After much deliberation, I selected my peep-toe cork-bottomed platforms and we hit the avenue. Okay, here is the thing. It was Saturday night. In Paris, France. Picturing Carrie in all those couture ballgown-style skirts and Manolos from the final two episodes of Sex, I figured my colorful cocktail dress and heels were a great choice.

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Everywhere we went, incredibly chic women were buttoned up in black, black, black. Sweaters, leather jackets, long-sleeved tees. Black leggings or mini skirts to match. And flats. Mine were a lonely pair of heels in a sea of fabulous flats. And as my poor feet burned with each long step we took (did I mention Paris is a walking city??), I cursed myself for trying to be chic and ending up looking like exactly what I was — an American in Paris who was trying to look chic.

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My mom bought me this Free People slip dress to wear in Italy and I can’t wait! $88, freepeople.com

So, as we click about the internet lining up the spots we’ll visit on our incredible, two-week Italian honeymoon, I am torn. One part of me wants to hit the fashion blogs and the street style photos and curate the pieces of my own wardrobe into a suitcase packed with items that will have me looking like everyone else. And the rest of me says that’s crazy and I should bring the items that I love, that Josh loves, and that will make me feel like what I will truly be — an American in love on her honeymoon in Italy.

What could be better than that?

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