Italy is known for being one of the most stylish countries in the world.
Their distinctive, quirky, effortlessly glamorous, sophisticated, creative and statement-making style, is something that I really admire and is hugely inspirational to me.
Glamour, beauty and passion is a part of the Italian culture and approach to life. You can see this not only with their fashion sense and unique designs, but with their architecture, their art and sculptures, their lifestyle, and their food and wine too.
So when I was planning my outfits for Rome, I knew I wanted to feel and look glamorous, even though I knew we would be working miles and miles around the city while we were sightseeing.
The thing is, I believe, in Italy, if you don’t put a little bit of effort in with how you dress, you’ll end up standing out like a sore thumb to locals and looking just like every other tourist, and personally that’s not something I like to do.
I like to stand out, but with appreciation from the locals. I want them to love my style.
Here are my tips.
The weather may be chilly, but you can’t look like a frump
We went to Rome over new years, and to be honest it wasn’t too cold, especially compared to the UK. Temperatures were around 10 to 15 degrees, and I was okay to walking around with a normal winter outfit on, eg. coat, jeans, blouse, boots, scarf, cardigan, without having to cocoon myself in layers like I do in the UK.
One thing to keep in mind when heading to Rome in winter? Layer wisely. The fit is everything with Italian style, so you don’t want to over-complicate your outfit or hide yourself under 100 pieces of clothing.
Italians are not frumpy in the slightest. They love showing off their figure and creating a great shape with what they wear. For example, I can’t tell you how many puffer coats I saw with a cinched in waist. They’re so flattering and they’re an amazing piece to wear to look chic yet keep warm.
Fur was also another big winning piece, of which I’d see styled in various different ways. There were short fur jackets with a belt around the waist to again, like the puffer jackets, accentuate the figure; big maxi length fur coats, which screamed glamour; fur stoles, which were place around the neck or shoulders; and fur hats.
Always add accessories
Italians love to accessories, whether it’s jewellery, bags, scarfs, sunglasses, you name it, they’re wearing it. They love creating statements with their looks, so they utilise accessories to really give their outfits an extra wow-oomph. Do remember not to go too OTT with the outfit though. A few carefully selected and styled accessories can be more effective at enhancing an outfit.
Adding a pop of colour or a pattern to your outfit with your accessories is also something the Italians love to do. A red bag or blue pair of shoes, silk patterned neckerchief, glitzy belt, or jewelled cocktail rings, are just a few simple ways to add a bit more Italiano to your look.
Comfortable but stylish walking shoes are a must
In Rome you’re bound to walk around for hours, so comfortable shoes are a necessity. However, you need to make sure you’re not just wearing any old comfy pair of shoes. Do not pack your scruffy trainers, or banged up boots. Your mission is to find a chic pair of shoes, you can easily walk around in and look elegant at the same time.
Be warned that many of the roads and footpaths are cobblestone in Rome, so it is pretty hard to walk around in stilettos, believe me I tried. Instead, pack block heel or flat boots, brogues or loafers. If you’re adamant about walking around in sneakers, ensure their clean and have something cool about them. I saw an Italian lady with crisp white Nike Air Maxs for example, and I also spotted a few pairs of Gucci trainers.
While we were in Rome, I mixed and matched my shoes depending on the outfit I was wearing. But I mainly wore knee high boots with a block heel, SOREL Alpine Chic Boots, and suede loafers.
Certain tourist attractions have clothing requirements
As an FYI, certain tourist spots have clothing rules you must abide by, or they won’t let you in. For example the Vatican (and many other churches in Italy) have rules where you can’t wear anything that falls above the knee, nor are you allowed to show your shoulders.
This means, shorts and short skirts and dresses are a no-no, and sleeveless shirts, tops and dresses also need to be rethought. Instead, opt for trousers or maxi dresses or skirts, and long-sleeve pieces. A scarf is always a super handy item to keep in your bag so that you can use it to wrap around your shoulders if need be.
Guys will have to put in some effort too…
Even Tim, without me giving him any advice on what to wear, knew he had to dress up and look smart for sightseeing in Rome.
By swapping t-shirts for casual shirts, and his scruffy walking shoes for suede brogues and smart sneakers, he was still comfortable, but looked stylish, and certainly gave the Italian men a run for their money!
Your Rome packing list: