The Surprising 2011 Summer Travel Fashion Trends in Italy

A Belle Spy’s report from the Bel Paese

What are the summer 2011 travel fashion trends in Italy? And what is it about how Italian women dress that make us want to emulate them anyway? Or simply, “What should I wear in Italy?”

Besides seeing the sites with my daughters and eating an ungodly amount of emergency artisan gelato, I set out to answer these questions on a recent visit.

The Surprising 2011 Summer Travel Fashion Trends in Italy travel fashion Italy

I knew we were going to be in for some fashion surprises when people who could easily be from where I live (Myrtle Beach, SC) pulled up in front of the Vatican.

Disclaimer: I am no Moda Spia(like Eleonora, Rome resident and our very first Italian expert.) My view of the fashion scene in Italy is mostly from the trodden tourist avenues of Florence and Rome. I didn’t demand to see a passport to verify the subject’s of my observations nationalities. Honestly, it’s more likely that some of the people I spotted live right around the corner from me in the United States than in Italy, or even Europe.

The Surprising 2011 Summer Travel Fashion Trends in Italy travel fashion Italy

Gladiator sandals, not unlike the sandals worn on the streets of Rome over 2000 years ago.

Number one travel fashion trend that is a carry over from last summer: The gladiator sandal. Whether jeweled, laced, leathered, brown or hot pink, this style was worn by women of all ages.

 

The Surprising 2011 Summer Travel Fashion Trends in Italy travel fashion Italy

My daughters and I guessed these young women were not American or Italian. Perhaps from the UK?

The general “look”: Above the knee breezy and feminine sundresses, either belted or bowed. Cotton capri pant and top ensembles with drawstring details at the ankles and waists. Oversized sunglasses, classic tortoiseshell or black,  or in an array of bright colors.

The Surprising 2011 Summer Travel Fashion Trends in Italy travel fashion Italy

Many of the current trends pulled together effortlessly.

What did the women who we thought were Italian share as far as what they wore?: Layers of sheer fabrics and lace with exposed matching underpinnings. Short shorts and capri, harem, parachute and palazzo pants.  Neutral monotones from head to toe or contrasting bright colors.  Stacked heel slingbacks or kitten heels (especially with capri pants).  Large, slouchy leather purses. An overall feeling of “effortlessness”  and “classic” that we all know indeed took an effort of which mostly women in the rest of the world are incapable.

The Surprising 2011 Summer Travel Fashion Trends in Italy travel fashion Italy

Colorful cotton dresses and palazzo pants

The teen scene: In the evenings my daughters’ teen counterparts were into wearing blush-inducing booty shorts and 5-inch high stilletto platform heels in bright jewel tones. In a large part because of their apparent comfortableness with this style of dressing, the Italian teens somehow pulled it off. In any case, I was glad I was not an Italian parent of teenage girls in booty shorts and heels.

The Surprising 2011 Summer Travel Fashion Trends in Italy travel fashion Italy

Hi, I am a peep-toed spiked and platform-heeled lacey bootie/shoetie

Shoes: Any discussion about Italian fashion without extensive discourse on shoes would be lacking. (Did you know the Italians actually invented high heels?) Besides the ubiquitous gladiator sandal, we noticed lots of shoes in store windows with apparent identity crises. I found myself wanting to ask them: “What are you, beautiful Italian made shoe that even without your mate costs more than my mortgage?”

The Surprising 2011 Summer Travel Fashion Trends in Italy travel fashion Italy

Among other things the cross body purse on the woman on the right clearly marked her as a smart tourist. If I were to take a guess, the other two flamboyantly dressed ladies, with their “identity crisis shoes” and styles, and over the shoulder slouchy handbag were probably either Italian or from Hackensack, New Jersey.

A few more words about about shoes: Remember 10 or 20 years ago when the only shoe advice handed out to Americans visiting Europe was: Whatever you do, DON’T wear white sneakers! ? Gone are the days when people in the know would admonish this practice as if shodding one’s feet in any kind of athletic shoe were something of grave, punishable by law consequence.

The booty shaping sneaker (not to be confused with booty shorts) actually seems to have taken Italy by storm, and on any street you will likely find a young female wearing them. Converse and Pumas worn by the younger set are also seen on feet pounding the pavement everywhere. There are subtle differences though, and it is still recommended that if you don’t want to stand out as American and are over they age of 25,  you step up (ha!) your shoe choice, and stay away from both those comfy white New Balance and Nikes AND booty shaping shoes.

The Surprising 2011 Summer Travel Fashion Trends in Italy travel fashion Italy

In Italy there have always been vendors outside tourist spots selling straw hats. This year the fedora hat was everywhere.

On the tourist track, if not Italian, the best-dressed women were Asian: Again, we didn’t ask for passport identification.The effect was always neat, put together with the latest trends, but if anything, seemed to lack the “effortlessness” impression left by the well-dressed Italian woman.

The Surprising 2011 Summer Travel Fashion Trends in Italy travel fashion Italy

Have your children graduated from fire retardant footie pajamas to fire retardant leather jackets?

A few comments about shopping for leather goods at Florence’s San Lorenzo market: The San Lorenzo market is a great shopping experience whether you end up buying anything or not. The quality of the leather goods isn’t necessarily the best, but there are deals to be had, and you may come home with a piece that you’ll love and use for years.

Be prepared for the hard sell on the part of the salespeople and decide ahead of time to have fun with it. You will be told you have pretty eyes and great taste and my favorite: “Ah, the three of you must be sisters!” Your daughters may receive their first marriage proposals. I believe that no female is above getting a slight ego boost from this.

Oddest travel fashion moment

Our favorite sales moment came when our knowledgeable, able and crazy complimentary salesperson from one of the booths, swept us away into the shop behind his stall to show us the approximately 47 colors a leather jacket my daughter had been perusing came in. As a last ditch sales pitch, right in the middle of the store he pulled out a lighter and demonstrated how the leather jacket was fireproof!

Do you have any fashion expertise or experiences gleaned from your travels that you’d like to share?

Travel Belle tips for buying a swimsuit

More articles on fashion in Italy:

How to Dress Like an Italian, by Eleonora Baldwin

How to Dress Like an Italian on the Beach, by Eleonora Baldwin

All photos taken by and property of Margo Millure.

The Surprising 2011 Summer Travel Fashion Trends in Italy travel fashion Italy
Margo Millure currently lives on the South Carolina coast. She is a writer/photographer, builder of Genesis websites and the founder of Travel Belles. She also runs http://www.HerMyrtleBeach.com and her writing and website building business site is http://www.BelleWriter.com
The Surprising 2011 Summer Travel Fashion Trends in Italy travel fashion Italy

@gomarwrites

Writer, editor, website maker, content strategy. Empty-nesting, yin & yang. Travel & labradoodle lover. Also @travelbelles @hermyrtlebeach.
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The Surprising 2011 Summer Travel Fashion Trends in Italy travel fashion Italy

Comments

  1. says

    That’s funny about the fireproof jacket…when I was in Rome in May, a vendor did the same thing with a “Prada” purse to show me what good quality it was. I had no idea, until that point, that this is what I should be looking for ;-).

    The other trend I noticed while in Italy, largely by locals, was the one-piece short/pant suit. It’s a trend that looks good on approximately no one, but folks were rocking it like nobody’s business. And the stores were all selling it in full force, as well.

    The fedora trend was definitely noticible (I even picked myself up one), and I had no idea how worldwide this trend was until I returned home and noticed everyone at the local Italian festival wearing them, as well.

  2. Margo Millure says

    Ha– I love it that the pyrotechnics demos could actually be a trend! I had no idea either. I’m wishing I bought one of those fedoras now that I’m home!

  3. says

    Good eye, Margo! :-) It’s been so cool here in Amsterdam that folks are dressed for fall more than summer – lots of black with big scarves. I’m sure that will all change once I get to Italy. :-)

  4. Margo Millure says

    well, we will be in the mountains at the end of September! (seriously. can’t. wait. … but in any case, it won’t be THAT hot. Even when we were in the Piemonte a couple of weeks ago it was probably about 15 degrees cooler.

  5. Eleonora says

    I may have to resign the title of Moda Spia! Wonderful job, Margo, you nailed the trends to a T!
    Baci, Ele xx

  6. Tuula says

    Lots of great fashion tips here Margo! Plus I really love how you caught snapshots of the women on the streets – nice to see all the trends in action :) Gladiator sandals are definitely a hit & I couldn’t agree more..leave the white sneakers at home ! :)

  7. says

    Loooove it! I have only brothers, so I am so insanely jealous of this girls’ trip. Love the usage of “underpinnings.” And the clothes in bright colors!

  8. says

    Oh, this made me laugh and laugh! As you know we were both in Rome at the same time this summer; I went and bought a pair of the ever-present gladiator sandals myself. Ouch, the back hurts my Achille’s heel! Guess I’m not built like an Italian.

  9. says

    When I first moved to Italy, I was surprised how women coming at me in the street were apt to make a quick up-down, then stay focused down on my shoes. After living here for years, I’ve not quite gotten used to shoes’ ubiquity, but I’m still trying!! I hope you had a good vacation!

  10. Margo Millure says

    I only had a brother too… I think that is why this kind of mother/daughter trip had been on my bucket list since they were born!

  11. Margo Millure says

    Haha! If you look closely, you’ll see that in the pic of the jeweled gladiator, the wearer seems to have… *gasp* .. a blister!

  12. says

    Margo ~ What a hoot! I’d say the young women at the gelato stand are Australian. My son would agree.

    From flip flops to stiletto bootie shoeties, my feet hurt thinking about it. With foot issues, and wanting to fit in a la mode, I search for boots that serve for all round occasions.

    Yesterday I received the Gentle Soles double buckle boots I ordered (from Garnet Hill or Zappos if they have your size) and I think they will work out. (With a pair of Spenco insoles for arch support.) Order a half size smaller – they are comfortable and chic. The cost is pricey, but my feet are worth it!

  13. Allie says

    The girl dressed in the odd shoes and the mid-length dress is wearing a style called “Lolita” that is extremely popular in Japan. Judging from my experience, her entire outfit appears to be brand name and quite expensive.