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How to Dress Like a Roman

How to Dress Like a Roman
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Does it seem like everyone on your Instagram feed is posting from Italia? And specifically Rome?? And more specifically the Colosseum??? That’s because they are. 58.3 million people visited Europe last year, with tourism in Italy reaching an all-time high last August - and for good reason: Italy. is. awesome. The pasta is healthy, the wine is mandatory, and the people are beautiful and talk like… well… Italians.


Its decided then - you have to go. The fear of missing out is so acute that it overrides the common sense realization that going to the most touristy city in the world sounds terrible. So what’s the first step? Airline tickets? Hotels? Nah, forget all those details - what are you going to wear? You want to fit in with those olive-skinned Gods and Goddesses as best you can. And while looking like Sophia Loren’s doppelganger might be pushing it, at the very least you don’t want to look like an American tourist.

Okay, maybe it’s not that bad to look like an American. But it is fun to play dress up. And when in Rome, right?


This begs the question then - how does one dress like a Roman? The initial inclination might be to take your bed sheet and wrap it into a contemporary couture toga but, although we actually saw that at the colosseum one time, it’s really not necessary. The truth is, Romans, and all Italians for that matter, are really just people like you and me. Sure they may be more beautiful and have an enzyme in their bodies that eliminates calories from wine and gluten, but they really don’t dress that much different from the rest of the fashion-forward world. If you follow a few simple guidelines and you’ll be just another Roman in no time.


Visit the tailor before you leave: One thing that Italians are particularly famous for, is wearing very well-fitted threads. They don’t just buy their clothes off the rack and wear as-is, like we barbarians do (little-known fact: the term ‘barbarian’ actually came from the Greeks, as a derogatory term in reference to non-Greek speakers, or foreigners). So what do they do? They take it to the tailor and they get it fit. To their body. Because everyone’s body is different, as we know. This actually makes a lot of sense. How can you fit millions of different bodies into 3 size variations? Frumpily. That’s how. And that’s why Italians don’t do it. The end.


Dress for both style, and comfort: This rule is actually particular to non-Italians, that are trying to look like Italians. Because here’s the thing – Italian women have another exclusive genetic trait that others lack, which allows them to walk in stilettos, with grace and poise, on uneven, unpredictable cobblestone streets. If you’re not Italian then you don’t have the gene. So in order to strike a balance between the too casual American tourist in flip-flops and the poser with a twisted ankle, put some time into the shop and invest in shoes that are both comfortable, and classy.


Stock up on those accessories: You got your top, your bottom, and your shoes. Ready to go, right? No, you’re not. Because you forgot to adorn yourself in accessories, and you’re going to look like a complete idiot as soon as you step out of your Airbnb onto those adorable little Roman streets. Don’t be that guy, ladies – load up on the chunkies, the widebrims, and the silk scarves. Yes, we said silk scarves - but please YouTube “how to wear a silk scarf” first. And go in for the kill with some oversized sunnies if you can. If there’s one look that Italy could patent it would be designer sunglasses that cover your entire face. (but who needs a patent when you have a monopoly – see Luxottica.)


Don’t be afraid to go for it: Maybe you’re still scarred from that one time you showed up at a dinner party in your token Little Black and your Manolos, only to find that it was totally a high-bun and Lululemon night. But this is your chance to face your fears and look your best without judgment. Romans dress to the ‘t’ (whatever that is) for – EVERYTHING. So you’re only fear should be not dressing well enough. and fear itself.


Remember that color is cool: While neutral tones are much safer, you might look a little confused when you arrive in Rome looking like a Parisian in black and white. Italians aren’t shy about wearing color, and the piazzas of Rome are filled with reds, oranges, blues, and the like. Even the men are doing it (and actually pulling it off in a very… Euro way…). So lose yourself! Go for that super loud, yellow sundress that you’ve been eyeing but haven’t mustered up the confidence to debut publically. Or throw a crazy pink hat on and do your best Kate Middleton impression, while dressing up an otherwise uneventful denim and white look. Let’s take a look at a few ladies that aren’t afraid to show their true colors:


Bring a purse: Yes, we get it – your travel backpack is soooo convenient. You can put all of your stuff in it, and put it on your back, and it has a hidden zipper in case the elusive gypsy pulls a Snatch move on you… But it’s very un-Italian, and if you want to dress like a Roman, you’re going to have to carry all your non-necessary essentials around in a purse like the rest of us. For an exclusively glamorous look at an incredible price tag, check out these Parchita bags


Leave the daisy dukes at home: Yeah, you’re from California, and everyone thinks you’re cool because of it… and when people ask where you’re from you say ‘California,’ as opposed to any variation of ‘The United States of America, Land of the Free, Home of the Brave…’ But you’re not in Kansas anymore, and anything with holes in it, or fray coming off the bottom is not cool.


Get themey: This one’s not a requirement, but can be fun. Those Roman sandals that you see in the movies - that Julius Caesar wore… back in style. I know – it’s been like 2,000 years, but styles are cyclical… The Roman sandal is super cute, and very Roman, but make sure you shop around for comfortable ones, otherwise your shoe-tying allotment will eat into your pasta and wine time.


So the bottom line here is that if you’re an American, you don’t dress well. But you can change that, and you should. Especially if you’re considering embarking on a trip to the Eternal City. Follow the above guidelines, download Duo Lingo, and you’ll be a Roman in no time. Finally, here are some looks from Mona Monet to inspire you. Ciao bella!

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