Friday, May 21, 2010

What to wear when vacationing in Italy

I will be the first to admit, I am not an overly fashionable kind of gal. Sure I like nice clothes and all, but sometimes just how to put an outfit together eludes me. Or more often sticker shock will keep me from buying an item of clothing.

I never put much thought into my clothing, but when I go on vacation to Italy I do. I do this for a few reasons. One, I want to make a decent impression on my husbands extended family who we will surely spend time with. Two, I don’t want to look like an obnoxious North American tourist. You know the type, the folks who walk around with big baggy tshirts with huge print of the places they have visited, baseball caps, fanny packs and running shoes. Three, it’s Italy! The birthplace of Armani, Prada, Gucci. Italians are so in tuned with being stylish that they don’t even try.

Last year before we went on vacation in Italy, I did a little web research to find out what the latest fads were in Italy. My plan was to copy one or two of the looks and blend in a little more with the locals. Basically I did not find much. There were some good tips out there though which anyone traveling to Italy or anywhere in Europe might want to follow.

1. No track suits and jogging pants. These are clothes meant for the gym only. Leave them at home.

2. Wear comfortable but stylish shoes. This does not include flip flops or running shoes. Flip flops are for the beach ONLY! Running shoes, especially those white athletic kind are not seen of the feet of the fashionable. Stylish walking shoes however, I saw everywhere. Truth be told some of the walking/tennis shoes I saw in Italy last year were just over the top and tacky. But if you want to go with the flow, gold tennis shoes might work! But most important wear good quality leather sandals or loafers. Women try to stick to a kitten heal or wedge as walking for long periods on cobblestone roads can prove tiring for the tootsies.

3. Jeans ARE fashionable. Maybe 10 years ago they would not have been, but everyone wears them, young or old. The difference between the jeans worn by Italians and those of North Americans are that they fit well. No Mom jeans in Italy. No droopy drawers on the young Italian boys.

4. I have been to Italy twice and both times during the summer. I rarely saw locals wearing shorts. If I did see someone in shorts it was on a sweltering hot day at the beach. I saw the occasional young woman wearing shorts that were at the knee paired with tall cowboy boots (not quite the style I expected to find in Italy). Last year I did see more capri’s and on the men I noticed man-pri’s which at first I thought looked odd, but then learned to like them. I even baught a pair for my hubby. But please don’t wear cut off jean shorts, or shorts that are too small and revealing.

5. Women should always pack some dresses and skirts. They are always the safest bet for fashion when traveling in Italy. Just make sure your skirts are not too short or trashy looking. Knee length is always the best way to go. I most often choose to wear dresses when on vacation. They are a no brainer. You don’t have to worry about matching bottoms and tops, it’s a complete outfit. Easy Peasy.

While I try my best to blend in, I find that no matter how well I dress I always end up looking like a tourist. Could it be the fact that I barely speak the language? Perhaps the huge camera strung around my neck tips people off. Or maybe it is the fact that I walk around with my mouth agape staring at all of the beauty that Italy has to offer. I have not seen Italians doing this, they are used to their surroundings and don’t appreciate it like I do.

So for this upcoming trip I will pack up my dresses, jeans, button down shirts and nice shoes…along with my camera and wide eyed anticipation, and hope to fit in…just a little.


  1. Italy is a very famous and fashionable country, one should wear the clothes according to the latest fashion trends in Italy, and not wear obsolete outfit. The dress should reflect the civilization and culture of Italians for sure.

  2. An update on the fashion I saw while recently there. The day to day, common, average person wore jeans and tshirts. Nothing special, nothing fancy. As a matter of fact I found some of the styles to border on trashy. Purple is a very popular color in Italian fashion right now. Everyone wears it both men and women. I thought that many of the young women looked like street walkers in some of their attire. I guess I am just getting older and am a bit reserved.
    One thing I did love though were the boots! The women wear them with everything, shorts, jeans and skirts. Often they look great, but sometimes the person has no clue how to put together the outfit.
    I also noticed the large number of clothing stores. Many very expensive then others cheap. Either way, the suggested outfits as worn by the mannequins were not observed.