Tag Archives: Italian fashion

Dressing for Italy: Revised

I may have to eat my words about Italians not wearing shorts. I’m seeing more and more of them doing exactly that. And men in baggy capri-length pants, with big clunky sneakers, yet! What is Italy coming to? Fabrizio said something to me years ago that always stuck in my mind (though it took me Read More…

I may have to eat my words about Italians not wearing shorts. I’m seeing more and more of them doing exactly that. And men in baggy capri-length pants, with big clunky sneakers, yet! What is Italy coming to?

Fabrizio said something to me years ago that always stuck in my mind (though it took me years to act on it): In Italy, dressing well is considered an act of courtesy towards others.

Not every Italian thinks this way, nor abides by it all the time, but, as cultural markers go, I’d say that this is a sign of an advanced civilization. When somebody goes out in public dressed like a slob, what are they saying about their attitude towards you, who have to look at them?

I am permanently scarred from the vision, 20 years ago, of an American woman in a supermarket in Jakarta (Indonesia) wearing sloppy clothes, with her hair in curlers. Maybe going shopping in curlers was normal where she came from, but I cringed at her doing it in a country where she was a guest, and, by shared nationality, implicated me in her rudeness.

Share your own tips on dressing for Italy

Dressing for Italy: Tips for Tourists

^ 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 Read More…

^ 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!)

Scenes from the Fashion World

Milan, as someone is sure to tell you when you go there, is one of the fashion capitals of the world. This never affected my life there in any direct way (and I sometimes wonder about fashion’s real effects on everyday Milanese), but, during the spring and fall fashion weeks, the city is suddenly full of Read More…

Milan, as someone is sure to tell you when you go there, is one of the fashion capitals of the world. This never affected my life there in any direct way (and I sometimes wonder about fashion’s real effects on everyday Milanese), but, during the spring and fall fashion weeks, the city is suddenly full of tall, skinny people, walking around purposefully with big binders under their arms. Some of them are indeed remarkably beautiful, but it’s surprising how ordinary many of them look, without the makeup. Except for being impossibly tall and skinny.

Some years ago, on the Milan metro, I witnessed the following scene:

Three young Italian men boarded the train. They were reasonably good-looking and stylishly dressed, buttoned up for warmth in their trendy new black leather jackets, their hair artfully combed and gelled. They talked loudly, clearly wanting to draw attention to their own utter coolness. A couple of stops later, the doors slid open, and in glided two more young men. Not Italian, possibly American – they didn’t say a word, so I couldn’t guess by the language. They weren’t extremely tall, but they were built. Their scuffed-up leather jackets were draped negligently, hanging half off their muscular shoulders. Their jeans were casually torn and maybe a bit grimy. Their manes of dark blond hair were tousled. They flung themselves across four seats, sprawling elegantly, every movement and body angle exuding: “We’re so gorgeous, we don’t have to do anything to attract your attention but just BE here.”

The three young Italians got very quiet and very small. At the next stop, they slunk off the train without a word.