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Italian Fashion - Spring 2006 - What are they Wearing?

Judith Ayotte Greenwood

Here are some current Italian iconic styles that are showing up this spring and my recommendations for what to pack.

Pantaloni aderenti

A young and very thin girl sports tight jeans with a shapely, pinched waist jacket that creates form even if she lacks one, but she doesn't. The jacket is warm without being a puffa jacket, and only one week ago she would have been wrapped up in a big, woolly scarf against the wind.

The shop owner is older and larger, so she has coordinated her layers and colors in a springy green, and she's dressed warmer because she isn't moving about like her client is. I counted, and she is wearing five layers plus a scarf. Italians really feel and guard against the cold. That day wasn't very cold, and I was wearing only a suit jacket over a T shirt, but then as they tell me, I am not yet all Italian.

The young lady is wearing trainers or running shoes. The more mature lady definitely is not!

Young woman and shop owner

Young woman and shop owner

On the other hand, below is a lady shopping in the marketplace. You may not have realized that it was possible to walk in pants like that, but many manage. When people saw me taking photos that day, several people came over to tell me to photograph that woman, since they were also intrigued. She is somewhat individualistic, or she gained weight, but probably the first because her hair is faintly shell pink.

Woman shopping in market

Woman shopping in market

Note that here is the first pair of pointy-toed and needle-heeled shoes we've seen. I see a lot of them, but the heels are very impractical on stone streets and I also see people fall when walking around in them. I once lost a shoe entirely when the heel caught in a joint, and that's not so elegant.


Italians sell scarves, use scarves, wear scarves, and they know what to do with them. This business woman has gone monochromatic, but another day she'll use a scarf to flatter her complexion if her jacket color doesn't. It is also fairly common for Italians to be concerned with drafts on the neck, and the scarf helps with that as well.

Business woman

Business woman

Her shoes are classic, sensible and well cared for, because she's working, but also seen by the public.

Everybody in this photo below is wearing a scarf except for the man. He's wearing a sweater, and later in the spring will throw it over his shoulders like a scarf. This is a Thursday market, when people are just buying their fruits and vegetables.

People at the Thursday market

People at the Thursday market

On the same day, this young mother felt fine with only a leather vest over her shirt. I thought maybe she was a foreigner, but no, she is Italian.

Young mother at the Thursday market

Young mother at the Thursday market

What to Pack

What does all this mean when you are packing your carry-on? (And by the way I am seeing distinctively colored and trimmed carry-ons that will be easier to find on the luggage carousel, too. Lime green? Yum.) Think ahead to what you plan to do. Investigate what the weather will do. Make a color scheme and stick to it so that every piece will work with every other piece you pack. That does not mean black, gray and more black. It can mean khaki green and fuchsia, as long as you stick to it. You will probably need more tops than bottoms, because they get dirty or sweaty faster than pants or skirts.

Always have a change of shoes and make them well broken-in. Layer, layer, layer. Try different ways of sporting a layer when you can't actually wear it. Sometimes a piece, like a constructed blazer, won't work as well as another piece that ties here or there better.

In spring, daytime can be sunny and hot, but nights will be cool to cold. Daytime can also be windy, rainy or quite chilly. If it starts to rain, racks with dozens of 5 umbrellas will sprout in the doorways of shops (ombrello), so you can cover up immediately.

For a 14 to 20 day trip in springtime Italy, I would pack two pairs of trousers, a longish skirt, four to five unprinted tee-shirts, and one biggish shirt that can be tucked in or belted as an over-blouse. Add an unconstructed jacket or a cashmere cardigan, both of which can play belt or shawl, for warmth. I would have two pairs of shoes, one lighter for evening or pretty restaurants, two belts, and three or four large scarves. Add to that the jacket you will wear on the plane over yet another outfit that coordinates and you only have to pack undies and something to sleep in.

Then, when I got to Italy, I would go shopping!! > Read more about what the shops are carrying this season.


Slow Travel Photos: See large versions of these photos.

What to Wear in Europe: Dressing for visiting churches and for traveling.

Judith offers fashion tours and cooking - www.judithgreenwood.com. Read more from Judith on Think on It: Philosophy from an Umbrian Farmer.

© Judith Ayotte Greenwood, 2006

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