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Italian Fashion Advice: How to Avoid Looking Like a Tourist

One of the most important steps in preparing for studying abroad is doing your research. Blogs just like this one are so helpful in seeing the study abroad experience through the eyes of a student just like you.
We’ve all experienced what you are experiencing – nervousness, excitement, confusion, etc. It really helped me feel better when I did my research on blogs, especially about packing and fashion tips for Italy. Now I don’t want to give you packing tips because to be honest I am not very happy with how I packed. Maybe just because I miss my whole wardrobe at home and I feel like everyone else here managed to pack more than me in the same weight limit. If I had to do it all over again, I probably would beg my parents for the money to check a second huge suitcase. But anyway, I did want to share with you some fashion advice (for the ladies) to help you not stick out like a tourist here.
Let’s Talk Footwear
At least in the fall semester, I don’t think I could survive Italy without boots. I currently have three pairs that are all just as comfortable as sneakers. Trust me, you have never walked so much in your life as you will while abroad, no matter what country you’re in. Obviously comfort is extremely important.

However, one of the first pieces of fashion advice I found in my research is that Italians never (ever) wear athletic sneakers, or any kind of athletic clothing, unless they are actually working out. If you don’t want to look like a tourist, you should do the same. I didn’t even bring athletic sneakers because let’s be honest, I knew I wasn’t going to pay the money to work out at a gym when I probably walk 5 miles a day.
If boots aren’t your thing, or in addition to them, street sneakers are perfectly acceptable and actually very popular. The Italian teens that I have seen on the streets, most likely high schoolers, seem to have an obsession with Converse high-tops with an American flag pattern on them. I have no idea why, but I’ve noticed it so many times because I just find it ironic. As an American I’m pretty sure I would never wear those. Anyway, I would definitely suggest Converse shoes or similar ones because they are comfortable sneakers, but look more stylish than athletic sneakers.
Of course in warmer weather sandals are very popular, though usually flip flops aren’t. And just for the safely of your ankles I would seriously stay away from heels for going out at night. These cobblestone streets can be a death trap.

In General, Dress Sensibly
Many people say that Italians dress much fancier than Americans. I would definitely agree, but that doesn’t mean you have to look ready for a job interview every day. It may seem like it would be a pain to dress up more than you would at home, but really how much more effort does it take to wear jeans instead of yoga pants? That’s really all it takes to make the difference. Don’t worry, yoga pants are still acceptable in moderation for your lazy days, but sweatshirts and sweatpants will really make you stick out like a sore thumb. When in doubt, you can always buy clothes here. There are even familiar stores like H&M and Brandy Melville. But I can’t guarantee you’ll have the money to spend!
Those are the major aspects of Italian fashion that you should take into consideration when you work on packing. Other than that, it’s really not much different from what you’re used to at home – so don’t stress!
Samantha Wood is the Fall 2013 CEA MOJO in Florence, Italy. She is currently a junior at Salve Regina University.

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