My husband and I just wrapped up the Roman leg of our journey (onward to Cinque Terre!). I know many of my fellow female travelers are concerned with looking nice and fitting in, and since by some coincidence I managed to pack exactly the right travel outfit to adhere to the local dress code (though I don’t think there was really any way to disguise the fact that I am a tourist), I figured I would share my observations here.
Although there are of course as many styles and approaches to dress as there are individuals, I found that a very large number of women of varying ages seemed to dress according to a simple formula: nice jacket, tight pants, some kind of shirt.
The shirt was the most widely varying piece of this recipe, and probably most adaptable to personal preference and need. I saw everything from t-shirts to light sweater tops to nice blouses. I myself brought several solid colored t-shirts and a printed tank top with a nice drape to it and these all worked very well.
The jackets mostly seemed to be of three main types: leather jackets, sweater jackets, and (most commonly) blazers. I saw many different lengths and fits. I happened to bring my Eddie Bauer Departure Blazer as a dressier alternative to a sun shirt (they are often out of stock but it seems to be regularly restocked throughout the year) https://www.eddiebauer.com/p/21101682/womens-departure-blazer, which had much lighter fabric than a standard blazer and didn’t hold its shape as well, but it packs like a dream and when you walk in to a nice restaurant at the end of the day when the light is low, nobody can tell if you’re a little wrinkled around the edges. All the denim jackets I saw seemed to be worn by foreigners, but I expect these could probably also be styled to suit.
Lastly, the tight pants part was often filled by skinny jeans, snug black dress trousers, and once or twice by black leggings. Usually even the jeans were a darker color. I brought a pair of Athleta Stellar Tights, which fit into the family of “looks like office wear, feels like yoga pants” and they looked great and felt comfy all day. https://athleta.gap.com/browse/product.do?pid=982974
I wore some variation of this outfit nearly every day in Rome and always felt as though I was dressed appropriately. My husband and I even dined at a nicer-than-average restaurant on our last evening (Il Marchese in the Pantheon area—highly recommend, especially for cocktail and amari lovers) and my husband expressed concern that we might not be dressed well enough, only to discover I was wearing almost the same outfit as the hostess (though she had nice ankle boots versus my sneakers…oops).
Anyway, I hope someone finds this useful! I think I could probably pare down my packing list even more now that I have a better sense of what outfit can work for (nearly) all occasions.