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Italy travel wardrobe - ladies, how does this look?

First time traveller and I'm determined to travel light! I am 48 yrs old, in good shape. We will be in Italy for 3 weeks in September - museums, churches, dinners, hikes, strolls, soccer game. Nothing too fancy on the agenda. Comments appreciated...
1 pair black capris
1 pair black shorts, just above knee (not Daisy Dukes!)
1 black skirt, just above knee, casual style
1 print sun dress
2 printed blouses, short sleeves, button front
2 tank tops, 1 striped, 1 plain white
1 white sleeveless blouse with collar and button front
1 bright colour drifit tee shirt
1 black zip front light weight jacket
1 multi colour sarong
1 bathing suit
1 pj set - shorts and tee shirt
1 pair flip flops (not rubber, sturdy enough for walking, ok in shower
1 pair comfortable black sandals with ankle strap
1 pair runners OR Keen type sandal - haven't decided.

So? Too much? Your thoughts/suggestions are welcome!

Posted by
400 posts

Hi Kathleen, Yes, leave the shorts at home unless you're going to the CT. Then you will need them for climbing. But mostly everywhere else, there are churches around every corner and you are not allowed to wear anything that goes above the knee (including that black shirt). I brought all capris which worked out great...for churches, for restaurants and for comfortabilty. Otherwise, your list sounds good if you can squeeze it all into ONE 21" suitcase w/wheels. We used the expandable kind and it gave us plenty of room for all we brought.

Posted by
7737 posts

Okay, so I'm a guy and I checked this out any way. The one thing that jumps out at me is the black clothes. You might want some light colored alternatives for those warm days when you're going to be in the sun a lot. (September can be pretty toasty.) Okay, back to you, ladies.

Posted by
1317 posts

Welcome to the 'travel light' dark side! :-) Or maybe it's the light side?

Anyway, I agree with the other posters' comments. Drop the shorts for sure. If you decide to pack another skirt, you might prefer a longer length for a slightly 'dressier' look. Unless you plan on intense hiking (Pompeii or CT) you only need two pairs of shoes: flip flops and sandals. Definitely don't need two pairs of sandals.

You probably could do without the white sleeveless blouse as well. You won't be able to wear it in churches and you have tank tops for the warm days. You probably can cut the t-shirt as well.

That would leave you with 4 shirts (2 blouses, 2 tanks), 1 capri, 2 skirts (or 2 pants, 1 skirt), 1 dress, jacket, sarong, bathing suit, pjs, flipflops, sandals. Unless you really get dirty, you can probably wear each item twice before it has to be laundered (maybe with a little 'freshening up' in the sink). Two laundromat visits and you're all set.

Posted by
2030 posts

I agree, lose the shorts, and the above the knee skirt -- both will not work out too well if you plan to visit churches. I would bring a pair of capris or another lightweight skirt. And not too much black. I love black for winter, but September will probably still be pretty warm in Italy, bring something more colorful. You could substitute a pair of jeans too, but check the weather forecast. If your suitcase is too heavy, edit out a couple of the tops.

Posted by
8293 posts

That's an awful lot, Kathleen. Can you edit a little? You can find laundromats in Italy. And with respect, leave the shorts at home, even if they are just above the knee. Bring another skirt (or better, buy one there!) and you'll feel more elegant.

Posted by
261 posts

I took capris and rolled them up when it was really hot. The churhes (even St. Peters) weren't too picky about at the knee shorts or skirts. Remember, if you wash something out at night, it will be dry by morning. Plan on washing out some things so that you can pack lighter.

Posted by
372 posts

thank you ladies (and Mike!) for your comments. I will do some tweaking. I knew the shorts would be an issue - I AM taking them, but I promise I'll only wear them hiking! I had a PM from Martha who lives near Florence, and she suggested jeans. I had vetoed jeans as being difficult to wash/dry overnight, and I thought they might be too bulky as well as too hot(September). Anyone care to comment on jeans?

Posted by
400 posts

Totally with you on the jeans...they're heavy &warm (Sept is a warm month), bulky for packing, and totally not necessary when there are so many better options for woman.

Posted by
1317 posts

I wore a pair of jeans to Rome but...

1) I wore them on the plane
2) It was December (and so a lot cooler)
3) I wore them for the 'dirty days' when we were crawling through the ruins of Ostia Antica and the Catacombs
and 4) I never tried to wash them (only wore them twice).

And in the end, I wouldn't bother to pack them again. They just aren't worth the hassle. Now I just have to convince my dad of that before our trip in November...

Posted by
705 posts

Ooh it always sounds so much when you write it down. I am the worst to comment as this would just be the start of what I would take. I always pack for blizzards through to heat waves. One thing I don't skimp on is shoes. I take at least 3 - 4 pairs as I find walking all day my shoes will rub no matter how comfortable they are and so changing them around each day keeps my feet happy. As for jeans I wouldn't take them. They are bulky and probably too heavy for September. Take a light weight pair of long pants that can be dressed up or down, far more versatile.

One packing tip is to lay out everything you think need and then take take half away. It's probably true as I always come home with things I haven't worn at all. Also only take things you can mix and match using one colour as your base. eg. black.

Posted by
2513 posts

All prior comments great. I also favor a "black" themed wardrobe - even if it's hot, it's all about fabric anyway. I'd drop the sun dress (assuming you are packing it for "dress up" time) and opt to wear one of your blouses and the skirt dressed up with a scarf. A scarf is not on your list, but I suggest adding at least one - you can also use to cover shoulders to visit churches, as in some places you'll not get in one wearing the tank tops or sleeveless blouse (or the short skirt or shorts for that matter). I second two pairs of "real" shoes - your feet are going to HATE you if you wear flip flops for even part of a day on cobblesones.

Posted by
77 posts

How will you be traveling? Train? Car? I was in Italy for 12 days, packed light, and still found train travel hard, but doable. I also felt like a dirty tourist with my Banana Republic brand new wardrobe by week 2. Its hot and your walking all day long. Loose the black the sun is strong over there. If your getting around with a car, bring whatever you like!

Posted by
2030 posts

As for jeans -- it depends where you are staying. Last September I stayed in an apartment in Cortona, equiped with a washer/dryer. As we all know European dryers don't really dry, but I hung my jeans on a clothesline in the sun and they were dry as toast in 2 hours max. So they can be dealt with. I wish I could share my pictures from this trip because I took pix of people in Rome and they would be good for clothing tips. Not counting people obviously dressed-up for work, they show people (men & women) wearing jeans, light tops, women in sundresses, loose flowing skirts. some black, but not too much (temperatures in high 70's).

Posted by
8 posts

Just returned from traveling light to Italy (Florence, Lake Como, Cinque Terre), Switzerland and France. I wore my capri pants and tennis shoes daily. I am not a fashion princess, and a woman I met only wore skirts and sandals. But i have tender, sensitive thin feet, and only could wear my sandals to dinner or the beach. I bought undies at REI and washed them nightly;four pairs were too many! socks from there that I might have to throw away, but they stayed ok for 3 weeks w/laundering--6 pairs. I had a backpack, a rolling duffel bag and my husband had a nearly empty suitcase for our shopping stuff that he hauled for me. I am 61, love to read and exercise as little as possible, and I did fine with 2 washable (LLBean) khaki capris, one pair of black linen capris for dress, and took a skirt that I only wore once. wouldn't bother with a skirt next time--i never wear them at home. some people are skirt people. no shorts and i did fine but it was hot in Italy. skirt might have been cooler for July. I think I was the only person at Notre Dame Cathedral who bothered to cover her shoulders with a scarf. There were halter tops, sleeveless, etc which stunned me. had flip flops for the beach (Cinque Terre) that I had to throw away from the smell they picked up in the public bathroom. sorry but it's true. only needed them for the beach.

bathrooms were in our hotel rooms everywhere and we stayed in a monastery (Lodging in Italy's, a one star hotel and several 2 star--everywhere was immaculate except train bathrooms and beach bathrooms!

Trip was wonderful. And it was my first time too. took a light weight, inexpensive (~$12.00 from airport shop) pashmina which i used on the plane, (they still use good AC on international flights and real food too), and at religious spots. but i didn't have to, i just thought it was respectful. shorts were everywhere, on men; fewer on women above 25 yrs old except at the beach of course. ENJOY!

Posted by
71 posts

Good discussion, good ideas. So, folks, one doesn't need a coat in September?? Nor a rain poncho? Rome, South, Tuscany, Venice and CT.

Posted by
1201 posts

We were in Venice and the Veneto for 2 weeks last year over the same time. We had a thunderstorm one day in Venice. But other than that brief bit of rain the weather was great. We left the Goretex at home. Days were pleasant and the evenings fine although slightly cooler. One of our group had a very casual sport coat style jacket, I took a lightweight long sleeve travel shirt (vented in the back and with sleeves that could button up short), the women each had a very lightweight cotton jersey zip up jacket. From looking back at the photos the long sleeves were only at night except for a couple of days in the Dolomites.

Posted by
35 posts

I brought a pashmina with me and was glad that I did. I was a blanket as well as that little extra when walking around at night. It was a bit dressier than my jacket and takes up little space.

Posted by
131 posts

Hi Kathleen,
Just returned from a marvelous three week trip to Greece & Italy. Bring those shorts! We visited many churches in Florence, Siena, Orvieto, and Rome. The only church that did not let women in wearing shorts was St. Peter's in Rome, even then, if they were knee-length you could still go in.

Posted by
9 posts

I think jeans are more comfortable for travelling in. And because they are heavy, wear them over, don't pack them. Italians all wear black. The only people you see wearing color are tourists, so.... we usually travel in Sept. and it always rains a couple of days, I have a lightweight hooded water resistant jacket that I take (& wear on the plane, its always so cold)I don't like carrying an umbrella. I usually start out mornings with a sweater and then put it in my backpack when it starts to warm up. I usually take 3 pr. shoes. One decently comfortable for evening and 2 pr. comfortable walking shoes so you can switch when they begin to rub--don't 4get bandaids!

Posted by
12172 posts

You probably have too many tops. I travel with three bottoms (1 shorts and two pants), 2-3 t-shirts and 2-3 button up shirts for a total of 5 tops. As long as they can all mix and match, you will have a lot of outfits to choose from. I tend to go with darker neutrals but anything works as long as it can mix and match.

Your jacket should be unlined, then add a sweaters that can be worn with everything for your warm layer.

I'd skip the dress, reduce the tops, look for fabrics that pack and launder well.

Lay everything out and make sure you can get at least a few options out of every item (that's why no dress). If not, replace it with something that gives you some choices.

I wouldn't do both flip flops and Keens. The Keens will accomplish everything your flip flops will. A pair of sandals that can dress up slightly or be worn to the beach coupled with runners or a pair of walking shoes would cover most of your needs.

Plan on doing some wash. Bring only enough socks and underwear to last four days and wash in the sink regularly with a biweekly stop at a laundromat (depends on how long your trip is).

Finally, your finished packing job shouldn't fill your bag. Loads always expand on the road so leave some room for that. A nice clothing item purchased on your trip is a great souvenir. One of my wife's favorite sweaters was purchased on sale at a small boutique in Verona (it cost less than we would have paid at home). When someone remarks about her sweater she can say, "I got this in Italy."

Posted by
689 posts

Nothing wrong with lightweight black. I wear a lot of black in Italy!

Posted by
372 posts

Thank you everyone for your thoughts and suggestions! One thing is certain - I need to pare down. Shorts, jeans, footwear - this all needs more thought too. Thanks again!

Posted by
121 posts

Kathleen - Yes - do drop the shorts. But don't drop the black. I spent almost a month in Europe with my husband and daughter - with only one carry on each. The things I wore the most black capris, black DKNY stretch slacks that are jean styled but not denim fabric, black skirt, and khaki linen capris (wrinkled but so cool and comfy). The black does not show travel wear and you can always get an extra day out of them without washing. I would also recommend packing a few less shirts - they will wash in the sink easily if necessary. If you're jacket is not waterproof I would suggest maybe a rain jacket that stores in it's own pouch - really just a slicker. Also I see you've packed no jeans - smart woman! Have a great time! Michelle