My Love, My Nonna: Obtaining the Amelia DiPietro Factor
She wasn’t a size two. She didn’t have an “It” bag. She couldn’t wear heels because of her swollen ankles, and she couldn’t eat strawberries because of her diverticulitis. She was Amelia DiPietro, my step-grandmother and one one stylish Italian mama.
Amelia moved to the US from Italy in 1950, recently widowed and with baby daughter in tow. While life’s tragedies may make some want to curl up and never leave the house, Amelia was a true “Survivor” in the Destiny’s Child sense of the word, and saw America as an opportunity for a better life for her and baby Nanda. She enrolled in English classes, and while she used the word “neefer” until the end of her life interchangeably for “neither,” “either” and “even,” she gained conversational skills in the language that helped her become the Belle of the Ball at the ultimate fashion show: The Catholic Church. Dressed to-the-nines in fur hats, cocoon coats, and ornate homesewn dresses that accentuated her voluptuous Mediterranean figure and legs-for-days, Amelia dazzled the entire congregation and caught herself a new man who she later had two children with. Not afraid of shapes that hugged the body and showed off her womanly physique– Amelia was the poster child for “dangerous curves.”
Amelia’s stellar style persisted into her retirement years, where she took to wearing outrageous sweaters and “Ee-cee Speery” lace-ups. She also appeared to be a follower of hip-hop style, frequently sporting Kangol hats that would make LL Cool J jealous, and loads of gold chains around her neck. She was a beautiful and warm woman who loved nothing more than cooking for and eating with her family, and she always knew how to make her plus-size figure look amazing. Here she is during Christmas 2006, the last holiday that I spent with her:
Is it a coincidence that Amelia’s metallic black and gold ensemble looks like it could be from the Balmain Fall 2010 collection? Or that chunky knits are one of the hottest trends for the upcoming season? I think not, Nonna was always fashion-forward. Although she is no longer with us, youngins could stand to learn a thing or two from Amelia’s confident style: 1) stick with what works for your body type, 2) a little sparkle jazzes up any outfit, and 3) hip hop don’t stop, baby! Break out that fur and gold!