Saturday, March 29, 2014

Dressing Like an Italian (Or What to Pack for Your Trip to Rome)

“ The Roman woman has spent a lot of time thinking about how to put herself together, how to please, to attract, to allure, to intrigue, even perhaps to seduce. [Italian women] are always ready to receive a special but unexpected invitation to dine in elegant splendor in a seventeenth-century palazzo without having to change clothes.” Alan Epstein

I have several friends and family visiting Rome this summer, some of them for the first time, so I thought about putting together a list of tips on what to #wear while in #Rome. Of course had to share it here with you!

Italians are a very stylish bunch, most regular people on the street look put together, and I don't mean those dressed head-to-toe with designer brands, I am talking about normal people out doing their groceries.  On my first weekend here I took the bus to #PiazzaNavona, and knowing that I was taking public transportation, I dressed down, only to find myself surrounded by Sofia Loren look-alikes all done up, in the bus.  Dressing up is not exclusive for when you receive a dinner invitation, dressing up is part of their DNA.  You never know what could happen today...

So here is the list, from the bottom up:

1. Wear comfortable shoes!  This is my number one suggestion when traveling anywhere but it needs especial consideration here since you will be walking on uneven cobble stone roads.  I know you must have seen several movies of classy Italian women strolling around the city in stilletos, but unless you have been born here and can navigate the "sanpietrini" (square stone bricks of which roads are made - see picture below) with nine inch heels, stick with wedge soles.  Of course sneakers are the best, but not so stylish... The locals wear chic walking sneakers, not your regular running shoe.  During the winter months, flat heel boots, motorcycle booties and oxford shoes are perfect for walking around Italy.  Ballerinas are great in warmer weather, preferably ones with a thicker sole.  Flip-flops = not stylish.

2.  Locals dress warm during the winter months, even though the winter in Rome is very mild.  If you are coming to Rome during the colder months and you want to blend in, don't go around wearing shorts and t-shirts.  You will be stared at and sometimes scolded for putting your life at risk by not covering up.  Dressing has more to do with the calendar than the actual weather.

3. Don't wear tops with spaghetti straps!  I know this is the land of spaghetti, but bare shoulders are a big No-No when you are trying to enter a church.  Some won't let you in or will very kindly sell you a paper cloth for you to wear as a shawl.  Be respectful and plan for a proper attire when touring religious places.  Shorts are also banned from some churches.  

4. Wear a scarf.  This is the one piece of clothing that I admire the most.  #Romans, both men and women wear scarves almost year round.  They are all colorful and wrapped in the most creative ways.  I've heard that Italians cover their necks from a sudden wind that may hit them and send them unavoidably to bed, sick for a few days.  Whatever the reason, scarves are a must here.

5. Wear playful earrings (leave the expensive ones at home).  True Roman ladies wear big earrings.  They are just what your outfit needs to be Italian-perfect.  And you can throw on some red lipstick if you really want to shine...

6. Favor a messenger bag.  Since you have to be careful with your belongings (please read my article about the 10 Things You Should Know Before Traveling to Italy) messenger bags are a great accessory for keeping your belongings in front of you where you can see them and being chic at the same time.

7.  Don't be afraid of color, Italians are not.  And of course, color coordinate!

8.  Lastly, this one is for the younger crowd, don't go walking around drinking wine straight from of the bottle.  It's like wearing a big red flag that says: I'm a tourist, I'm drinking and I'm an easy target.  

Happy packing!


  1. thank you for this, is funny your comment about scarfs, mum always says a strong wind can make you ill and she makes sure her neck is always nice and warm. Not sure how truthful this is, sounds a lot like a myth to me! :)

  2. She must have some Italian genes :) I have to admit that when the weather is cold and I cover my neck it warms up my entire body! There must be some science to back up the scarf issue. Thank you for your comment!