You know the saying about “when in Rome” — you’re supposed to do as the Romans do. And this may never be more true than when it comes to fashion and how to dress while you’re visiting the magical country of Italy.
Like any culture, there are some definite do’s and don’ts when it comes to what (or what not) to wear while in Italy. If you’re planning a trip to the boot-shaped country, here’s a quick European vacation fashion guide to help you plan your wardrobe.
Tip #1: Wear comfortable shoes
Michael Kors Fulton Moc Flats, $99 at Macy’s
Cobblestone streets are common in most cities, including Rome and Florence. The ancient city of Pompeii is downright difficult to navigate (but worth every second). Unless you’re somehow adept at navigating uneven terrain in high heels, opt for low-heeled, fashionable shoes or boots (if winter). Italians are generally a stylish bunch, so now’s the time to buy that cute pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing but wondering, “Where in the world would I wear those?” Rome, that’s where.
But take note: Comfortable doesn’t include flip flops or athletic shoes — save those for the beaches and gym. Italians frown on too-casual footwear in the main cities.
Pro tip: Italy is famous for top-quality leather goods, include handbags and shoes, so plan a little time for shopping at the leather markets. Florence is particularly nice for that.
Check for a Macy’s coupon and you could score these comfy leather flats for a great price!
Tip #2: Pay attention to the weather
Summers can be steamy, but shorts are still regarded as resort wear by most Italians. Opt for casual skirts, dresses, and capris instead. If you plan to visit any of the thousands of churches throughout the country, you’ll need to be sure your shoulders and knees are covered before you enter, even in the summer. A scarf you can throw around the shoulders will suffice when the temps are too warm for long sleeves.
Take note: Italians rarely show bare arms or legs until June or July.
If you’re traveling in the spring or fall, pack a sweater or light jacket — it can get chilly, even in the south. A small raincoat or travel umbrella is a smart accessory to have year-round. Your best bet is to think “layers.”
Winters tend to get cold in the north, but it rarely snows in the south, so save your down jackets for ski resorts. A classic wool or leather jacket with a scarf should be all you need to stroll around Rome comfortably during the winter months.
Tip #3: Don’t forget accessories
Karl Lagerfield Women’s Plastic Oversize Frame Sunglasses, $49.97 at Nordstrom Rack
A hat and sunglasses are smart to have year-round, even in the city; piazzas can be hot and bright for a large part of the year. Most Italians favor a few simple pieces of jewelry, and Italian women generally wear simple makeup.
Nordstrom Rack is your one-stop shop for designer fashion at great prices. Be sure to check for a Nordstrom Rack coupon before you shop to ensure you get the best deal possible!
Tip #4: Wear bright colors sparingly
1. Women’s Chaps Surplice Drape-Front Full-Length Dress, $90 at Kohl’s; 2. Women’s Sonoma Goods for Life Chino Capris, $24.99 at Kohl’s; 3. Calvin Klein Zip-Pocket Utility Blouse, $69.50 at Macy’s
Unless you want to stand out, your hot pink dress and bright floral skirt would be better left at home. Italians tend to dress in neutrals or muted colors, especially in Florence and Rome. That doesn’t mean you can’t add a little color with jewelry, scarves, pashminas, or even a tank top layered under a blouse or jacket. Just don’t go overboard or you may find yourself drawing unwanted attention.
Shop for comfy and playful neutrals at Kohl’s and save when you use Kohl’s coupons!
Tip #5: Dress for safety
Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Crossbody Bag, $42.99-$45.99 at eBags
It’s hard not to look like a tourist when you are one, but there are things you can do to minimize attention and still stay safe. Opt to carry a messenger bag or sturdy leather purse rather than a backpack or fanny pack. A cross-body bag with reinforced straps will keep your belongings safe from pickpockets and knife-wielding thieves. Keep important documents, money, and credit cards in an inside jacket pocket or the front pocket of your pants or jeans, never your back pocket.
This Travelon bag features several smart anti-theft add-ons, like zipper locks and RFID blockers. Be sure to check for an eBags coupon if it’s on your travel must-have list!