^ top: Ross & Enrico – dressed for a wedding, I admit
Foreign travelers to Italy sometimes ask how to to dress so as not to look out of place among the fashionable Italians. This question is hard to answer; much depends on your sex, age, and personal style.
It’s easiest to start with some fashion don’ts:
- No track suits, sweat suits, or the like, and no baggy sweatshirts. Well, really, no baggy anything.
- No fanny packs.
- No daypacks or backpacks, unless you’re in your 20s or younger.
- No clunky white sports shoes. Younger Italians do wear sports shoes, even when not doing sports, but these are usually sleek and stylish models (including some brands very familiar to Americans), and are never dirty or scuffed or worn down.
- No t-shirts, especially not with big pictures or slogans on them, again, unless you’re under 30.
- No shorts, especially not for men.
Now some do’s:
- In general, Italians dress more formally than Americans. Blue jeans are fine, as long as they are well-fitting, clean, and in good condition (or any damage is intentional and fashionable) – Levis are very trendy and even expensive in Italy.
- Men, always wear collared shirts (polos are okay).
- Wear dark or subdued colors, except in summer. Even then, Italians wear white or pastels, not the bright purples and blues that many Americans like.
- As a tourist you’ll be walking a lot, so I do recommend very comfortable shoes, even though this seems never to be a consideration for Italians, at least not for women, who routinely walk all over town with things on their feet that I couldn’t even stand up in.
- Designer labels are always a plus.
Of course, how you dress is always entirely up to you, and no one is going to jeer at you even if you commit every single one of the fashion “sins” listed above. The question I’m responding to came from people who wanted to know how to fit in, and that’s what I’ve done my best to answer, with some expert advice from my Milan-raised, extremely stylish, teenage daughter. (I admit I cheated – in the photo above, my daughter and husband are dressed for a wedding!)