What My 90-Year-Old Nonna Has Taught Me About Style

Talking about fashion with my nonna—that’s grandmother in Italian, although everyone calls her that as though she’s mononymous—is a bit of a challenge. For starters, when I sat down with her this week as she turned 90, I noticed a bit far along into our discussion that she didn’t have her hearing aid in.

Second, it’s very apparent that the way I talk about fashion all the time (what’s trending, where the industry is moving, forms of personal expression, etc.) doesn’t carry quite the same perspective as someone who grew up in Italy before World War II, moved to a new country in her early 20s but never quite lost a sense of homesickness, was a housewife for most of her life, and has witnessed nearly a century of life.

When Nonna, whose name is technically Maria, is home, she always relies on a uniform of slip-on shoes and a housecoat. When she steps out, it’s always more polished: trousers or jeans, sweaters, tailored jackets, a silk scarf. She’s someone who takes pride in her appearance when she’s out in the world but whose priority is herself, her comfort—and should you ask her what’s most important across any topic of conversation, she’d say her family.

Up next, this Say Yes to the Dress star has seen over 100,000 bridal clients, and people make the same mistakes over and over again.