Thursday, 23 May 2013

Traveling Europe: Clothing Observations in France, Italy & Spain

Closet Content Analysis: Comfortable in your own Clothes

Choices: What do you usually wear? 


Keeping in mind your own comfort level should be the foundation for packing your suitcase for trips anywhere any time. It is, of course, good to know certain tendencies - such as, cities require more stylish apparel than the countryside, and that is a general rule, no matter where in the world you are. Determine how much time you will be spending in cities, at resorts, or beaches and in the countryside and pack accordingly.

Canadian lawyer S.K. lived in the south of France, while her husband attended to techno-medical research. During her stay, she noted and concluded that generally, "The women dress a lot better than we do in North America!" That is a refrain that many of us have heard as we travel through Europe. Here are some general guidelines that may help you get through France, Spain and Italy this summer.

Spain: In the spring, when North Americans are in shorts and flip flops in their cities, the Spanish are dressed in layers and remain covered up. It is not summer after all. The Spanish are extremely stylish so if you are visiting the cities, do it up. On hot Spanish summer days, choose dresses over shorts. Skirts and tops will give you a range of flexibility as you dress the skirts up or down. Short shorts and skimpy tops will bring unwanted stares and comments. Reserve shorts and such to the beaches and resorts. City tours may take you to cathedrals and the Spanish are conservative so keep modesty in mind while dressing for cathedral and museum sight-seeing. Take a peak at this pinterest site for helpful hints of what to wear in Spain.

NO THANKS Tops: Canadian food writer, Amy was in Italy last summer and her advice for the steamy summer heat, is silk tank tops; however do keep in mind her experience. Amy packed several solid colour silk tank tops. She wrote, "I thought they were perfect because: a) they wash and dry quickly; b) they would mix and match with all my bottoms; c) they can be dressy or not; d) they take up very little room. Bad move. The solid colour turns dark when damp, er, sweaty. Dark patches under arms and down my back. Now, I still pack silk tank tops, but in patterned fabric, which doesn't show the perspiration."

Italy: Basically, follow the same advice for Italy as Spain. France, Spain and Italy are all stylish but there are differences. In my observation, Italians appear to wear brighter colours and higher heels than even the Spanish. I don't seem to remember many "blue" jeans generally but certainly skinny jeans in all colours and stilettos to match. 

In Italy you will see older women wearing black from head to toe since much of this traditional style is based on mourning family members. When you reach a certain status/older age, there are more deaths in the family, hence more obligation to wear black. I am not aware of the same observance in France; but perhaps this is the same in Spain. 

The LBD in Paris at lunch in September, 2012.
Photo by the waiter serving JoyD.
France: The French are stylish in a more reserved way. Remember I am making generalizations - mais oui, but of course, there are exceptions and style factions. For an understanding of the French sense of style peruse the blog, A Woman's Paris. Again, think city vrs. country. Jeans are fine everywhere except if you are doing it up; then a little black dress will fill any of those requirements. Black and white, so popular in 2013, is also a style staple colour combination for summer. Careful when colour blocking bright colours; in France, you could end up feeling "clownish".

Then there are shoes, but I'll save that for the next post.

Nice for France: A black blazer can be a better alternative than a cardigan when traveling France in the summer. You can wear it to a  market on a cool day and put it over the little black dress in the evening. If you dare to take a pair of white jeans (usually a NO THANKS travel item) then it would look terrific with a colourful silk tank top.

Amy has created a new category for this blog, NECESSARY!

NECESSARY: Amy added that, "A MUST for me, and this is not really a garment, but I do wear it: my money belt. I don't leave home without it. Little silk tank tops come in handy as a layer between my skin and the money belt (with another loose top overtop)."

That loose top could be a "button-down" shirt that can be  taken off in the summer sun or slipped on when visiting a cathedral.

JoyD Travel Reminder: Keep the most important documents closest to you and with you at all times. Even though my husband and I live in France for 6 months, we are in the habit of taking our passports with us even when we go to the market. We are foreigners after all, and this is the document NECESSARY to have with you at all times.

One more NECESSARY . . .

Burberry vintage all weather coat on a cool spring day in Turkey.
Photo by JoyD's husband
Spring NECESSARY: Gortex or water-resistant three-quarter length jacket/coat. Last year and 2013 have been particularly rainy springs in France.

Other posts on this blog regarding traveling:
What to Wear When Flying for 2 Days
Packing for a Two Week Visit in Europe
Business & Tourist Travel Wardrobes

Next blog post: Shoes for Travel to Europe


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