One of the questions I often get when people are asking me about their upcoming Italy trips is, “What should I wear in Italy?” Even if those people have no problems packing for a trip just about anywhere else, for some reason having plane tickets with “Milan” or “Rome” on them that freaks them out. There’s something about the idea of being surrounded by all those fashionable Italians that makes some people feel like they should step up their travel clothing game a bit. And I don’t blame them.
Yes, the Italians are – almost to a person – a fashionable lot. Even if they’re not all wearing Dolce & Gabbana or Armani, they dress well and carry their look (however strange you might think it is) confidently. And you don’t have to spend a fortune in designer duds either to feel like you fit in as a traveler in Italy.
To help guide you along with the “what to pack for Italy” question, here are a few posts I’ve written in the past about fashion in Italy:
- What to Wear in Italy in Summer
- Avoiding Summer Fashion Faux Pas in Italy
- What to Wear in Italy in Winter
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One additional thing worth mentioning is that sometimes what you wear will keep you from what you want to see. For instance, many churches and other religious buildings in Italy have strict dress codes which forbid exposed shoulders, midriffs, and knees. During the heat of summer, when you’re inclined to wear shorts and tank tops, that could be a problem. You can avoid an unwanted change in your itinerary by wearing long pants (or a long skirt, for the ladies) and also carrying a long-sleeved shirt, scarf, or shawl in your bag for those times when you want to go inside a church.
When it comes to fashion, however, the reality is that most people living out of a suitcase or a backpack for a couple weeks of vacation are going to have a hard time not standing out as members of the “not from around these parts” crowd, no matter what they wear. You could lug your whole shoe collection with you (or, better yet, invest in a completely new one in Italy), or pack for every possible fashion eventuality, but normal people don’t travel that way – nor should they.
You can bring home some of the Italian fashion sense, however, by picking up on the cues all around you – what color is hot? What shoe or purse style looks like it’s the “next big thing?” Are sunglasses getting bigger or smaller? Even if you’re not among the fashion-forward while you’re on your Italian vacation, you can definitely be the one in the know when you get back home.
>> For more tips on planning a trip to Italy, my comprehensive Italy visitor’s guide is full of great information that will help anyone make the most of their Italy vacation.
photo at top by Jessica Spiegel & may not be used without permission; photo of two men by le jeune etranger