Italy may be synonymous with great food and amazing wines but it is also associated with high fashion and, if you are invited to a wedding in Italy, you probably may wonder what to wear. Remember, this is where some of the biggest fashion houses in the world are: Prada, Armani, Gucci, Fendi and so many more. Italians dress to look their best whether it is a quick trip to the post office or a night on the town. Taking a few extra steps in your planning process will have you blending in with the locals in no time at all.
Avoid White (and Black)AT WEDDINGS
Ladies: It is a well-known fact, that you should avoid white and ivory at weddings unless expressly encouraged to wear these taboo colors. No one wants to upstage the bride (or heaven help us) be confused with the bride, if we can help it. There are a plethora of light colored fabrics which will look even better and offer a pop of color in photos.
Much like the rest of the world, in Italy, black is traditionally the color of mourning. However, it is also associated with high fashion. If you have your heart set on wearing black, then pick your choices carefully. Black at an afternoon wedding is generally frowned upon, but for an evening event that will go until all hours of the morning with eating, drinking and dancing, then you should be fine. Remember to keep the style light and fun!
Gents: You have it so much easier than the ladies, so if your friend, date, partner, spouse, family member is having difficulties, please try to be patient and understanding. A great suit or pants and a sports jacket with a fantastic button-down shirt and tie will be perfect for any event and help keep you cool and comfortable. Again, keeping in mind to try to avoid black unless expressly requested.
Dress to Impress
Italians always look and dress their best and spend a lot of time on their appearance and clothing. (You will never see an Italian go the grocery store in sweatpants with ‘bed-head’. NEVER EVER! Try to imagine what they wear when invited to a wedding…) That being said, there are tons of travel-friendly, fashion savvy options out there. Remember, you don’t need to spend a fortune to look like a million bucks!
Ladies: In general, for fancy occasions, weddings included, Italian women tend to wear longer, flowing dresses and nothing terribly tight. Showing up in an ultra-short, skintight dress might draw several looks, but also be frowned upon in the eyes of the church! (It is important to note that many churches still require women to keep their shoulders covered while inside, so keep that in mind). In general, light colors are worn for afternoon affairs and darker colors are traditionally worn for evening celebrations. However, these traditions are a bit dated and nowadays, there is much more flexibility.
Gents: The same goes for men here. You will see fellows out and about in a full suit in sweltering heat or the bitter cold. Unless the bride and groom have specifically mentioned “casual” on the invitation, it is really best to pack a nice pair of dress pants, a button down shirt and a breathable jacket. Ties can be optional, but look so much nicer in photographs! Throw in a watch fab and a pocket square and you will blend in with even the most Italian of guests.
Dress for the Weather
The weather here in Tuscany is beautiful, but baffling. (And this is coming from an east coast girl from the US, North Carolina to be exact.) I just cannot seem to wrap my head around the meteorological anomaly that is Italy. Spring and fall are absolutely lovely, in fact my favorite times of the year, but the weather can be very unpredictable. It may be 90oF (32oC) in the sun, but in the shade, five feet away, it could be significantly cooler… like 70oF (21oC). And when you factor in a still breeze… well things can get even a bit more unpredictable.
Ladies: This can make planning and packing a bit tricky. As a general rule, going with a light-weight, flowing fabric in a light color can go a long way to keeping you comfortable. It is always a great idea to pack a lightweight scarf that could double as a shawl for your shoulders. Another great option is to bring a hand fan with you. Remember that weddings take a lot of different forms and the difference between an afternoon ceremony (either inside a church or in the sun), followed by an evening dinner under the stars and a dance party until the sun comes up, needs an outfit with a lot of flexibility.
Gents: You tend to have a plethora of options for elegant, lighter-weight fabrics. You can always beat the heat in a great linen suit, cotton shirt, tie. Throw on some comfortable sandals or slip-ons to finish the look. Of course, it is always a great idea to pack a lightweight scarf. Not only will you be able to help a damsel in distress that may be cold, but you will look oh so Italian.
Accessorize, Accessorize, Accessorize!
Who doesn’t love to accessorize! Especially at a wedding where you can pull out your favorite, brightest and showiest pieces. Italians love bling! But that doesn’t mean you have to go out of your way to wear something that you will not be comfortable in. Remember, be mindful of Italian traditions, but incorporate your own style and have fun. If you are more of a minimalist, think of a pair of simple earrings and a string of pearls or maybe a simple chain and pendant.
You will want to be sure to grab a fabulous purse to hold your necessities. Italy is known for its outstanding leatherwork, so maybe you could even pick something up while you are here. You will want to make sure to pack some fashionable sunglasses (just make sure you remove them for professional photos.) A priceless accessory to help beat the summer heat is a small hand fan that could fit in your purse. In the summer heat, it will be invaluable.
I could write a book on the necessity of comfortable shoes when invited to a wedding… When you are planning your ultimate Italian-inspired outfit for a wedding, shoes should never be an afterthought. Doing your research about where the ceremony, reception and afterparty will take place will be invaluable. You may find yourself climbing a cobblestone street to reach a church, navigating gravel and grass for an outdoor ceremony or even find yourself in a vineyard for the wedding celebration. A fun and fancy pair of wedge sandals or a low, block heel will help you navigate most every possibility that you will find yourself in. However, if stilettos are your go-to, then perhaps investing in a pair of sturdy heel caps could solve all your problems and keep your heels pristine!
It is important remember to respect the couple’s wished and “dress the part” but also, embrace your style while you are here in Italy. The couple, your friends and family are all here to celebrate this joyous event and there will be LOTS of photographs. This is a wonderful time to play dress up, but don’t lose yourself in the process. We all have our own flair and there is no need to compromise your fashion style. Find something that is nice, speaks to you and that is appropriate for any occasion. This kind of outfit will serve you well in Italy, but at countless other events. Wishing you happy shopping!