Anyone who knows me knows that I am not the type to throw on sweatpants for a grocery run. I very much adhere to the Italian mindset of “la bella figura”, or in other words, making a conscious effort regarding one’s appearance in every facet of life. While I admit that some fashion statements and trends can often be quite contrived, I typically dress with the mantra, “quality, not quantity” in mind. I stick to basic colors, quality fabrics, and a bit of a European stylistic flair, which is often difficult to replicate in the US. While some domestic brands have been upping their game recently (Rag & Bone comes to mind), I typically like to incorporate international styles and designers into my ensembles, even by way of a handbag or pair of shoes. TWINSET by Simona Barbieri is exactly the type of concept I have been searching for. I stumbled upon the store while window shopping in Florence, and I was immediately struck by the high level of quality and unique design choices of the brand. Each TWINSET outfit is typically sold with more than one article of clothing (such as a dress, slip, and belt) included, and is encouraged to be separated and mixed with other pieces at the discretion and creativity of the buyer. I had never before encountered a brand with such a willingness to invent, and I was eager to hop into the dressing room and conduct a few experiments myself .
The store, which was situated on Via Porta Rossa just a few minutes walk from the Ponte Vecchio, had a eye-catching and spacious display of their products. There was also a separate wing dedicated to infant and toddler apparel, which included lush quilted sweaters and tear-inducing tutus and dresses. The first outfit I settled on was the lace dress featured above. While I cringed when the stylist initially showed it to me hanging on the rack, I took a leap of faith and was shocked by its bold, yet feminine presentation once I tried it on. It was sold with a nude slip to be worn underneath, though I was advised to also throw the dress on over pants with a simple camisole on top. The belt added an edgy touch, something I am often drawn to when making fashion choices, and it perfectly balanced the delicate nature of the lace. While this ensemble may not be for everyone and is certainly avant-garde, it is a unique addition to my wardrobe that I’m excited to put to good use.
The second outfit I was lucky enough to walk away with featured both a lace slip, as well as a light black sweater. I loved how one of the stylists adjusted this ensemble on me to give the top a bit more asymmetry; I’ve honestly kept it tied that way since. While I comfortably wore this outfit for one of my last dinners in Italy with a pair of black leather heels, I adore the versatility of the look. I can just as easily layer these pieces over my favorite pair of jeans or leather pants and create an awesome fall outfit. Throw on a cable-knit scarf, a heavier jacket, and a pair of boots, and this could transition into a winter outfit as well. While neither outfit was particularly inexpensive, it was not as pricey as a typical name-brand, such as Gucci or Givenchy, which have featured similar looks in past years at a much higher price point. The versatility and encouragement to mix-and-match different pieces from each ensemble made it a worthwhile, quality investment.
Above all, I would like to commend the incredible stylists, sales associates, and managers at the TWINSET via Porta Rossa location for their extraordinary help, patience, and kindness during my shopping experience. They made note of my preferences early on in my visit (anything black…) and went out of their way to bring my attention to pieces hidden throughout the store, or even offerings stored away from the public eye. Matching heels, hats, and handbags were graciously hung on my dressing room doorknob, seemingly placed there by fashion fairies, each time I would try on a new piece. It was truly one of the most attentive and personalized styling experiences I’ve had while shopping in ANY country, and I appreciated their willingness to let me play dress up while deciding on my final choices.
I am so anxious to see if this incredible brand makes its way stateside any time soon; they have a Montreal location, which is currently the closest brick-and-mortar store for us East-Coasters. However, if you happen to find yourself on holiday in Florence, or any major city in Western Europe for that matter, treat yourself to a visit at TWINSET by Simona Barbieri. You will not be disappointed!