How To Dress Like The Locals In Italy

So you’ve got the difficult things like car rental sorted out and the flight tickets booked too, then what’s stopping you now? Surely you’re not confused as to what to wear in Italy? Let me make it easier for you, by suggesting how to dress, both in the summer and in winter. Italy is one of the world’s leading fashion capitals and the locals there, especially in big cities, are turned out very smartly most of the time. This can make a modest traveler worry if what she/he plans to wear is less than appropriate in Italy. It’s not like the common man there struts around in designer threads 24 hours a day, it’s more that they wear unusual combinations and styles in a confident way. Also remember there’s only a limited amount of stuff you can pack into a suitcase and lug around when you travel. Even if you have a car on hire in Italy, you don’t want to be carrying around bagfuls of clothes and accessories. Pack light and pack smart. Here’s a look at the fashion essentials you should pack for your Italian sojourn.

Summer clothes

If you plan on going to Italy in the summer months then for the ladies I recommend long skirts, dresses and tank tops or t-shirts. Try to avoid the shorts and miniskirt look, this is because most Italian women don’t wear very short hemlines and you will standout like a typical foreigner from miles away. They opt for capris, knee-length fitted skirts and flowing dresses like maxis that are cool and breezy for summer. Another thing is that very short clothes and sleeveless outfits won’t be allowed when you to enter the orthodox churches. Even if you happen to pack a pair of shorts, I can bet you won’t wear it after seeing what the locals wear. The shoes can be sandals or open toe heels which will be cool and comfortable for walking. Although you mostly have got a rental car to get around places still a holiday wearing stilettos is best avoided.

Men are advised to avoid boring, touristy attire like shorts, caps and sneakers. Lightweight linen pants, khakis and cotton pants with semi casual footwear is the best bet. Instead of closed formal shoes men can choose casual leather sandals. If you are still keen on shorts try to keep them to knee-length and keep a shirt handy to pull over a sleeveless t-shirt when you visit churches. For the posh dinner out and casinos its best keep a semi party button down shirt and a clean, nice pair of jeans. For summer smart collared t-shirts look apt.

Winter wear

Winter in Italy is a great time to visit and once again you could be at cross-purposes what exactly to pack for the trip. Most often I’ve seen the locals dress as per season and not really dress on a day-by-day basis. So sometimes even though it’s not so cold you can find men and women in fur coats and ankle length boots. For the evenings, both men and women will do well to pack a pair of formal trousers or slacks. Or even a dark colored expensive looking pair of jeans. Tailored, fitted dresses and skirts are recommended for women and men can choose a collared tee instead of tight t-shirts with logos on the front. For your feet try dark colored shoes in black, navy, maroon, grey or brown. Try not blind everyone with ultra-white tennis shoes. Carry a good winter coat, a woolen scarf, a pair of gloves, couple of pairs of socks and you’re all set. You don’t need to restrict your wardrobe to all blacks you can play around with colors and mix and match to create the perfect ensemble.

A final word

Lastly, remember that many religious places of worship and churches are very particular about their dress code. This means shorts, open midriffs and sleeveless clothes are not allowed inside their premises. To beat this, what I suggest you do is carry along a pair of pants, a shawl or a scarf and when you visit these places you can put them on. Try not to be too casually dressed and skip the ‘shorts and sneakers’ look altogether.

A backpack can be akin a neon flashing sign that says ‘I’m a foreigner’ so I suggest you leave it in the rental car or preferably at your hotel. Just carry a small purse or a man-bag and you will look local and feel so much lighter.  Keep the warm clothes, water, food, travel brochures and other paraphernalia in the hired car.

Don’t think that to visit Italy you need to pack all your fancy clothes, or buy a wardrobe full of designer names. The fact is you are going there on holiday and you should focus on being comfortable, well dressed and practical. The bright side is that once you are back from Italy you would have had a master class in the next season’s trends and be more knowledgeable then any of your friends back home.


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