what to wear and not look like a tourist

Apr 22nd, 2007, 06:18 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2007
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what to wear and not look like a tourist

The reservations are made and now I'm thinking of what to pack for a trip to Italy in July.... Yes, we are tourists with cameras oohing and aaahing over the sights, but do you think that there is any way Americans can dress so we can enjoy the "privacy" that locals enjoy?

1. Italy in July is going to be really hot and humid.
2. I travel simply with one bag that I carry myself.
3. Is there any way I can look somewhat sophisticated AND comfortable?

suzeeq52 is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 06:38 PM
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Yes, dress all in black and wear a sweater wrapped casually around your neck.
NorthShore is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 06:38 PM
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Everyone will know you are American (unless you learn Italian and outfit yourself in all Italian clothes when you get there).

If you want to avoid screaming "American tourist, rob me" avoid giant white clown sneakers, baseball caps, tee or sweat shirts with cute sayings or pictures on them - and shorts in cities. Also - regular blue jeans are not practical - too hot, awful if they get wet and can;t be washed.

(Adult europeans wear shorts only at resorts, beachs or while actually involved in athletic activities. BUT women are allowed to wear cityshorts, but only real city shorts - to the knee, tailored, fitted and crisp/clean with a smart shirt and either ballerina flats or wedges. Check out Glamour magazine for do's and don'ts.)

Women should wear pants, capris or skirts in a nice lightweight fabric with a smart top. Men should wear pants (khakis or similar) and a shirt with a collar (polo shirt is OK).

Both should wear real shoes. Comfy walking shoes for day - but shoes or fashion athletic shoes in a color other than white - NOT running shoes.

I know many americans have a very casuale lifestyle - but if we can afford to travel to europe surely we all must own some clothes that are a little more tidy/sophisticated that we wear to clean the garage or run to the market.

(Sorry to preach - but some of the things we see on tourists in NYC - and men seem to be the worst offenders - are either scary or hilarious - depending on your mood.)
nytraveler is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 06:42 PM
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First of all, remember that Americans are not the only "breed" of tourist who will be joining you in Italy this summer- this will be much of Europe's summer holiday season, too. In fact, when I traveled in Italy in July and August last year, there were tons of Italians waiting in the same lines, as well as people from ALL over the world (especially lots of Australians)!

That said, my favorite blending-in technique is always to wear very simple clothing. I prefer black or navy, which I think looks chic and also hides not-so-chic gelato and other stains picked up as the day goes on! I like sleeveless tank-style dresses, to just at or below knee length, with comfortable black sandals of choice. They don't wrinkle and I have found that a one piece dress like that is cooler than a skirt and top. Keep a big shawl for going into cathedrals or to sit in a restaurant or cafe. I also found a pair of black lightweight jersey gauchos that I used all the time, paired with a colored tank top- a little dressier than capris and the elastic waist was a plus in the heat! I wear my plain old watch and the same few pairs of simple small hoop earrings and also only travel with one carry-on bag.

That's what I love about summer travel- true it will be hot and sometimes crowded, but I love not having to schlep winter coats and deal with boots, etc.

Waiting in lines I played a game with myself to see if I could identify where someone was from by how they were dressed- not really! (I hope some others will post their observations about that.)
sglass is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 06:43 PM
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You will see lots of men wearing shorts in Italy in July, and many will have on tennsi shoes. Nobody will arrest you and you will not get turned away or receive bad service at the vast majority of restuarants.
NorthShore is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 06:45 PM
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Prego! nytraveler and NorthShore - exactly the kind of tips I wanted.

I've been taking an Italian class at the local college since January because I think folks appreciate any effort we make to converse in their language. (Perhaps someone will mistake me for a local to ask for directions while I'm there?)

I have a daybag to carry but hesitate to carry anything resembling a purse...
Now what about shoes?
suzeeq52 is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 06:45 PM
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No American running shoes, no baseball caps, no fanny packs, no camera bags.

You are likely to be going to the most touristy areas of Italy so you are likely to be alongside other tourists- American, Asian, European so don't worry about it too much. The locals are more likely not to be hanging out there unless they deal with tourists in their line of work and they just won't care what you wear.
amwosu is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 06:50 PM
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Wear what you like for touring but dress appropiately for better restaurants as you do at home. Italians don't wear much black. Color is their thing.
cigalechanta is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 06:55 PM
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A few churches will not let you inside in shorts or sleeveless blouses.
NorthShore is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 07:10 PM
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Wear what you'll want to see in your photos.
MademoiselleFifi is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 07:13 PM
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"Italians don't wear much black." posted by "cigalechanta" We have numerous pictures of many Italian women sitting on chairs in the town squares, wearing black. Even if they've been a widow for 30 years they still wear black.
Marycang is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 07:20 PM
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Marycang. My parents were born in Italy. My aunt wore black for her dead child who was a preteen when he died. She died in her eighties, that is the way some of the oldr generations live and believe but modern youth and adults in cities do not embrace those customs.
cigalechanta is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 07:49 PM
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Wow.....that's all I have to say. I've been to Europe MANY MANY times and always dressed like I normally do in the US. Shorts, jeans, tennis shoes......backpack. Never been hassled, never been robbed, never been made fun of.

You want to be comfortable. We are going this summer to Germany and Switzerland. People in Germany are telling us we shouldn't wear tennis shoes, if we want to "blend in". That's ridiculous. I wear them....they are the MOST comfortable shoes for all the walking we will be doing. You've got to be joking if you expect me to wear sandals or such. My feet will hurt forever if I have to do that! It's going to be hot.....so I wear shorts.

The only thing I have run across (which is why I usually carry some sort of long sleeved overshirt in my backpack), is not being allowed in churches in Italy, when your shoulders are showing.

Ok, enough ranting. I just had to get something, because you guys are right. These "what to wear" postings are funny.

Just be comfortable, that's all. Don't worry about buying a whole new wardrobe.
tms99 is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 07:57 PM
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The posts are funny? What I find funny is the claim that white shoes would somehow be more comfortable than other colors-- can someone explain that one?! And what's so comfortable about jeans?

And the OP didn't say anything about buying a whole new wardrobe-- she asked what to PACK.
MademoiselleFifi is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 08:20 PM
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Switch roles. What would an Italian need to do to fit in where you live?

I suggest he arrive with few clothes and buy some at Wal-Mart!! Then keep his/her mouth shut unless he or she speaks English very fluently with very little accent.

I have two Italian friends who can do just that - speak very good English with almost no identifiable accent.
bob_brown is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 08:23 PM
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Is there some reason people cannot be comfortable AND well dressed ?
Apr 22nd, 2007, 08:45 PM
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If you want to do as the Romans when in Rome, dress as if you think you may run into a former classmate while out for the day, someone you haven't seen in a long time who knows everyone and will report back. Not what you wear to work in the yard, not what you wear to a wedding. Not your Sunday best (unless it's Sunday or you're on your way to a special dinner out or a party) and not what you typically wear to a little league game. Something in between that you put on when you think you look good.

I think, Suzeeq52, that it is definitely not only possible but fairly easy to look and feel both sophisticated and comfortable. But the American trend the past generation or so is to dress kids like little versions of rock stars = tiny Britneys and jr. thugs - and dress adults like large versions of children = in short pants with a printed t-shirt for any occasion.

For my money, when I'm in Rome or Paris I enjoy the style and fashion. And I like to look good if I can - I'm no George Clooney, so I make a little effort to look like I made a little effort ... This doesn't mean go out shopping before you leave. It just means dress a little up, rather than a little down.

A pair of cotton or light wool slacks are cooler than jeans (and feel a lot more urban than shorts - not to mention more adult) and solid, well-soled leather shoes are every bit as comfortable in a day of walking on stone streets as any sneakers or runners.

For women, a skirt or dress is cool, from what I've observed, and comfortable. They look comfortable, anyway. With those streets, I'd nix heels except for an event. But there is a world of shoes between heels and REeboks. (Also, very thin-soled shoes seem like a recipe for disaster - but for short strolls near the hotel in the evening ... well, you know your tolerance.)
tomassocroccante is offline  
Apr 24th, 2007, 10:38 AM
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Nytraveler, I'm so happy I ran across your response. I just bought just-below-the-knee "city shorts" from Banana that I love. I was unsure whether to bring them on my trip to Italy in May, but now definitely will! IMO I think they are dressier than jeans.

Thanks for posting this, Suzee. Maybe it's just me, but I love buying 1 or 2 new things for any special vacation.
mary09 is offline  
Apr 24th, 2007, 12:02 PM
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I travel with black pants made by Royal Robbins. I love them - they wash up great in sink and usually dry overnight. They look nice and are very comfortable. I have listed the royal robbins link as well as Rei. I apologize for the bad link instead of translating into some other format like posters do -- don't know how - just want to get info to you.

I also had luck calling the Royal Robbins Outlets that are listed on their website and getting two pair at $45 each rather than $65 - and they weren't "seconds" or poor quality, just must have been overstock.


or http://www.rei.com/product/706787
queener is offline  
Apr 24th, 2007, 12:05 PM
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Oh shoes? I highly recommend Josef Seibel -- I have several pair and they are extremely good walking shoes and don't look clunky (imho). I have both sandals and shoes and both are comfortable and classy looking. Be sure to try them on as opposed to ordering on-line - I have found each style feels a little different so you will be better off trying on several to find what suits you best.
queener is offline  

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