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Clothing choices

We are in Italy right now, and have been for over a week. I just want to let you all know that the only thing that will look out of place is zip off pants-shorts.

The Italians and Germans are very casual in dress. I have seen shorts on men and women. Tennis shoes and athletic style sandals...and Crocs (yuck in my book)

The only people that look out of place are those that think zip off tan colored pants are fashion or comfortable.
you are better off in a nice pair of longer shorts for a guy, or a cute skirt for a gal.

Posted by
216 posts

I'm in Italy right now, too, and at least 33% of the men are wearing zip-off pants/shorts, many of them Europeans and Americans, but not Italians. I say dress for comfort and serviceability.

Posted by
1 posts

Thanks for the updates. We leave in 2 weeks. I was under the impression we couldn't wear shorts in churchs and planned to wear capri pants and tshirt.

Posted by
46 posts

Just got back Saturday, and agree that there are almost no "dont's" anymore. This is a big change from 4 years ago. It seems that if you are an Italian under 30, you must be in jeans and have something written on your shirt. I did notice more capri pants than shorts on the women, even at the beach towns. I did not feel out of place in my just-above-the-knee skort, however. Interestingly, nothing is too skimpy on top from what I observed.

Posted by
46 posts

What I mean is you can get away with any kind of a top!

Posted by
241 posts

What does not work in major churches is tank tops. Staff do not want to see bra straps. Ladies, cover those shoulders!

Posted by
216 posts

Shorts are fine--as long as they aren't too short. Most people (including me) wore just-above-the-knee shorts and didn't have any problems.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks for posting the info, especially since we're packing right now and I'm trying not to stress too much over clothes! We leave for Rome on Wednesday.

One more dumb question, though: Do people wear bright colors because it's summer? Or is it mostly dark colors? I have mostly solid dark-colored capris, but have some brighter, summery tops. Don't want to look too much like a Floridian!!

Thanks a lot.

Posted by
216 posts

It seems as if people wear just about everything, although dark colors tend to predominate. I noticed a lot of bright greens (you know, one of the "in" colors right now) over the past couple weeks--on tourists and Italians. Some of my friends dared me to wear white pants, but I declined.

Posted by
14 posts

This is great news as my son leaves on Thursday. And it will help alot with packing.

Do you have any other tips or things of interest?

Posted by
1999 posts

FYI ---Wed May 23, 8:21 AM ET
LONDON (Reuters)

Based on responses from 15,000 European hoteliers, the survey carried out on behalf of travel Web site Expedia showed that Americans are the worst dressed tourists, Britain was second in the worst-dressed tourist table.

Just because the rest of the world is doing something -- doesn't mean we have to. We should be the leaders in style and class!

Posted by
705 posts

Witgh relation to colours etc. i have noticed that the Italians especially are slaves to fashion. I remember one trip when eyeliner had made a big come back and all the girls were wearing it even if it didn't suit them. I generally have found the same with clothes. If green is in then everyone is in it etc. I wouldn't stress too much - you're on holiday enjoy. However do dress appropriately for churches, it's just basically a sign of respect in a place of worship.

Posted by
466 posts

I think that in Italy you can wear just about anyhing. Yes, the Italians are fashionable and they should be with all the great Italian designers! Rick Steves book says not to wear shirts with logos or writing on them but all of Europe wears them so why shouldn't American travellers? The zip off pants are just plain TACKY I don't care where you come from!!!! Who wants to spend so much time zipping your pants on and off all day? Insane!!

Posted by
365 posts

OK, here's the deal with the zip-off pants..they are excellent travel clothing. Having said that, I should state that I've never unzipped the lower legs. The great thing about many of these pants is they are lightweight, dry quickly, and often have zippered internal pockets. Some are ugly, not lightweight, and have velcro external cargo pockets. Avoid those.

Americans spend way too much mental effort worrying about how their clothing will be perceived in Europe. Those who have traveled extensively in Europe know that by American standards what European men wear is often quite ridiculous looking. Capri pants on men? Nyuk! And all that cheap-looking discount store-ish garb they love so much. It's quite clear that Europeans are the worst violaters in wearing clothing with large English labels and text. Let's face it, are you going to care that some guy in Capri pants is smirking at what YOU'RE wearing? Dress comfortably, don't worry what other people think, and be polite.

Posted by
91 posts

i always thought it was silly to worry about what clothes to wear in europe. wear what you always wear. be comfortable.

truth is, if you don't pay attention to fashion in the first place you'll look like an american either way.

Posted by
576 posts

You said it,Neil!I've always been amused that the Europeans were laughing at us,when some of their outfits would send people into fits of laughter over here.Get a mirror and checkout how you look in a Speedo,Euro guys!Except perhaps in Paris(where women must have a different type of foot that can wear stilletto heels on cobblestones),most people haven't appreared that amazingly dressed to me.My fashionista daughters have been very underimpressed.They found the Italian girls VERY thin(the anorexia rate in Italy is much higher than the worldwide average),but all slavishly wearing the same "in" thing of the season.I look much better at home than I do when I travel.It's too hard to bring all the heated rollers,linen clothing,etc. Americans need to stop being so worried.Just dress appropriately for your age and activity.There's nothing wrong with wearing nice clothes that look good in America.I'd much rather see my husband dress like he does here than wear a Speedo or capris!

Posted by
32 posts

My husband and son in law wore the zip off pants. They didn't zip them off and on all day. they started with the long pants, and when it got hot, they wore them as shorts. worked great. And I saw lots of them. Who cares what others think? You'll never see them again. And no matter what, you'll look like a tourist. And I noticed the capri pants on men--AWFUL! The women wear stilleto heels, but I wouldn't be caught dead in them. I cannot imagine walking around Rome all day in heals just so I'd look like the Italians. Dress for yourself, not others. Even when at home. Dress for comfort and stop worrying about it! They care more if you are rude or not. My daughter and daughter in law carried a wrap to put on when going in the churches. We wore capris, not shorts. But that is not even acceptable in Milan for the Last Supper.

Posted by
339 posts

We live in one of the world's primary travel destinations, Central Florida, and our family has often noticed how foreign visitors choose to dress to "fit in" in the US. Some of their choices are obviously planned to look like locals (but miss the target). This makes me wonder how they view us when we visit their countries and try to "blend in". I think the advice to dress comfortably but not sloppily is well given. Years ago I was given this piece of advice: remember that when visiting a foreign country you are an ambasador, of sorts, of your own homeland. You may be the first person someone may meet from your country and their opinion of where you come from may be largely based on their interaction with you. That said, this makes me consider pretty much anything that makes an impression on someone - foremost, my actions and words and, to a small degree, what I am wearing.

Posted by
3580 posts

I also live in a "travel destination" and it is hot here in the summer. Only the visitors wear shorts and skimpy tops. They stroll rather than walking with determination. And sometimes they block the sidewalks as they do this strolling. Most people on vacation look and act differently than the "locals" who are mostly working, buying groceries, or going about with a definite chore in mind.

I wear mostly dark/solid colors in Europe because they show dirt less and the components are interchangeable. Last time I took a Hawai'ian shirt just to break up the monotony. My favorite fashion no-no is the extreme skimpiness of clothing seen on some. BTW the churches aren't concerned with bra straps. What they don't want to see are bare shoulders or knees. It's their rule; don't fight it.

Posted by
576 posts

I could easily visit San Francisco in the summer months without wearing shorts! However, my husband, not wishing to look like a stereotypical American tourist, left his nice, dressy shorts at home when we went to Spain. When it was 100 degrees in the shade and we were surrounded by countless Spanish in shorts, he was miserable and regretted his decision!
When heat is an issue, Europeans know how to dress comfortably, too.

Posted by
1449 posts

Have to agree with Nick here. For some reason wearing a t-shirt emblazoned "CIA" or "FBI" seems to make a fashion statement if you're a twenty-something Italian male.

Posted by
93 posts

I agree with most of the posts so far....wear what you feel is going to work for you..be comfortable and at ease with yourself...It's probably not what you're wearing that makes you stand out as a tourist..it's how you behave...If your loud and abnoxious...you're a tourist...if your at ease and enjoying your surroundings..you're a traveler...

Posted by
842 posts

We just got back from Rome and Puglia. I was amazed this time at what the Italians were wearing in the nice restaurants. Jeans!, but with nice shoes, and a nice top/shirt. Anything goes, although I did not see hardly any people with shorts or zip-off pants.....but it was cool when we were there. I still brought my zip-off pants, and my wife brought her shorts, but we only needed them for a couple of days.

Wear what makes you comfortable!

Posted by
103 posts

Be comfortable and try to stay "dry".. It's very hot and humid in Venice and so crowded that your pretty silk tops will wilt and so will you.. Please..by all means if you plan to visit the Basilica in San Marcos.. no shorts or tanks.. you will be draped in an ugly paper top reminisent of a doctor's office.. and wrapped from the waist down. (Not a good look)
I agree with Ellen.. skirts for the girls and longer shorts or even cargo pants for the guys.. ( the zippered or zelcro pockets add a little security for the famous pick pockets..) Take your time and stroll and drink TONS of water. Ciao

Posted by
20 posts

Good comments from everyone! Ladies, please remember that a full cotton skirt is cooler to wear than shorts on a hot day...the breeze can swirl around your legs! Save the shorts for the beach!

Posted by
13 posts

In responce to some of the posts about wacky European styles: I saw a guy in Haarlem wearing brown cowboy boots, a black full length leather skirt and a grey pleather snakeskin jacket with no shirt on. I don't know if this is fashion forward or fashion backward but if he could get away with that look than most Americans should be alright.

Posted by
1 posts

I wanted to thank everyone for their posts, I am leaving for Italy in 11 days...eek and it is good to hear from people that were just there. If anyone has any last minute advice for me that would be helpful.

Posted by
221 posts

I have had Europeans tell me that it doesn't matter what Americans wear; they can spot us a mile away. I had a teenager in London tell me it is by the way we walk. he also asked me why all American men wear baseball caps though...

Posted by
29 posts

The way we walk? What is different about the way we walk? Any ideas?

I'm leaving for Italy on the 17th and reading this thread has been interesting. I bought some travel knits at Chico's recently, but now I'm tempted to leave them here and take linen and cotton. Maybe I can buy a travel iron there...

Posted by
466 posts

Zip off pants.............yuck!!!! I agree on the point that most people have things written on their shirts or t-shirts!!! Don't be afraid to wear anything with words on it! As for the zip off pants, come on Americans you can be more creative than that!!!!!!!!

Posted by
1000 posts

I would wear what you are comfortable in. On our vacation trips to Europe, which are always in the summer and hot, my husband and 2 teenage boys wear the longer cargo shorts (don't try to wear these to St. Peter's in Rome as you won't get in--need long pants) and have never felt out of place. I am comfortable in skirts or skorts, of which I have several--the kind that look like you are wearing a skirt. I love the ones that are lightweight and dry very quickly--from Titlenine.com or Dick's Sporting Goods. Love these skorts and especially great when last summer we went to Capri and the Blue Grotto and had to climb out of the big boat into the smaller boat! We are heading back to Italy this summer and I probably won't even pack a pair of shorts. I think the main thing is NOT TO OVEREPACK and then you have more room for bringing stuff home!