Sass, Smarts and Stilettos: How Italian Women Make the Ordinary Extraordinary

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Learn how to live fully within your own philosophy of living in Sass, Smarts and Stilettos: How Italian Women Make the Ordinary Extraordinary

Sass, Smarts and Stilettos: How Italian Women Make the Ordinary Extraordinary

About Sass, Smarts and Stilettos: How Italian Women Make the Ordinary Extraordinary

Ah, that inimitable Italian style. It’s embedded in an Italian woman’s DNA. Fashion doesn’t define her. She defines herself. She knows an extraordinary life is not about status, money, or achievement. The only mastery it requires is one her heritage has given her, the irrepressible passion to make art of life itself.

Ask an Italian woman where she gets her sense of style and she will tell you it’s not about labels. It’s tethered to humble roots; humanity, community, conscious consumerism, and a profound appreciation for art in all its forms.

Sass, Smarts and Stilettos takes the reader on a journey from the humble hill towns of Abruzzo to the revered fashion capitals of Milan and Rome, into the artisan workshops of Florence, and the humanistic business practices of Luisa Spagnoli, Brunello Cuccinelli, and Alberta Ferretti, from the emergence of Italy’s fashion industry after WWII, to slow food and sustainable fashion initiatives taking root around the world.

Life lessons echo in the words of the author’s mother and grandmother, in the voices of Italian film divas, designers, tastemakers, writers, and artisans across generations, from the first Sala Bianca in Florence to the game changing design ethic of Franca Sozzani, Miuccia Prada, and Donatella Versace.

Learn how to live fully within your own philosophy of living. Say good-bye to mindless consumerism, emotional clutter, and others’ expectations. Create a personal style that fits like a custom blazer by Ferrè and enchants like the colors of a Sicilian sunset. Then go on to craft an extraordinary and empowering life made-to-measure for you alone.

My Thoughts

This is a wonderful book of the power, confidence, leadership and intelligence of women. While the title is about Italian women and focuses on this culture, women of all cultures can relate to this book through similar experiences.

I was moved by this story as I thought of my family and the women who came before me. My family is from Venice and I still remember when I was sixteen and landed for the first time in Italy and how in awe I was. The buildings, the relationships, the food,  the fashion and the people were incredible and larger than life to me. I fell in love in that moment and was already planning my trip back. This book renewed my love for Italy and all things Italian.

While the book is a celebration of the power of women, it is also a reminder about what life really is about – family, good quality items and love. Gabriella provides us with the key to how the Italian women described in this story (from her Mother to herself to actresses to fashion designers) live their lives and how to follow in their steps. To embrace life with all of its emotions – to love fully and to never be afraid to show these feelings (tears are not weakness!). Quality over quantity – Western culture can be consumed with buying things for the sake of buying them but this book reminds us that it is better to live life uncluttered with things and to buy one quality item that will last over many items that will be thrown out. Everything in moderation is key – Italian women are happy because they don’t deny themselves the joys of life like food, wine and desserts but moderation is key.

I loved every moment of this book that celebrates the Italian woman but also the power of women in general. It made me want to hop on the plane and go home, yearning for something more!

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters and Kobo.

Rating: 4.5/5

About the Author

Gabriella Contestabile is the author of the novel, The Artisan’s Star, and owner of Su Misura (Made to Measure) Journeys; a boutique travel concept for the female traveler who relishes off-the-beaten-track adventures that celebrate the Italian way of life.

The book/travel initiative has its roots in her pre-writer life as a foreign language teacher, later as Executive Director and Vice President of International Training in a number of global companies (including Estee Lauder, Shiseido, and Prada Beauty) where she would create immersive and unconventional learning experiences in unique settings around the world.

One of her favorite pastimes, wherever she is in the world, is to scout out the best, and most ‘Italian’ espresso in the hood. It requires multiple tastings, but that’s the idea. Gabriella was born in Italy, and raised in Ottawa and New York City, where she currently lives with her husband, her mother, and a furry Shih Tzu named Oreo.

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Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.


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6 thoughts on “Sass, Smarts and Stilettos: How Italian Women Make the Ordinary Extraordinary
  1. Gabriella CONTESTABILE

    Dear Carla,

    Thank you for taking the time to read and review ‘Sass, Smarts, and Stilettos’ with such thoroughness. I am delighted that it connected you to your first memories of Italy and that the celebration of female power, which we all possess. We need to own it, which is something you clearly have done. All the best and I hope you get back to Italy again some time soon.

  2. nicky

    Thanks for this review! Makes me want to learn more about Italy and Italians, and hopefully also travel there someday!