How to dress for a European summer holiday - and not look like a tourist.


My trip to Italy was for three weeks, travelling and exploring different cities and towns. I didn’t want to be washing clothes, so I packed garments that worked together and gave me the different looks that I wanted to achieve. I wanted to look like I belonged everywhere I visited!

Most of the places we went to were predominantly cobble-stone streets and had uneven ground, so it certainly wasn’t a place for heels. Most of the time I wore my silver sneakers, teamed with my silver side bag. I could look stylish no matter where I went.

I packed what I call “smart casual” for most daily wear, which meant garments I could style with my sneakers and flats. But I kept in mind that Europeans seem to dress up more than Aussies. In saying that, you still need to feel comfortable and try to stay cool as their summers can become very hot, especially if you are visiting historic sites where lots of marble reflects the sun and heat. Not to mention the hundreds of people milling around. 

smart dressing in Italy

I also considered where I was going. What I wore in Milan and Rome was totally different to what I wore on the Amalfi coast. No matter what, do try to avoid gym gear, instead select well-fitting and stylish clothing.

It is good to remember that when you are travelling to major cities, you won’t be packing in the same way you would for a resort.  If you are doing both, there are lots of versatile clothes which will work well in either place.

So, before you start packing for your European holiday, really consider your itinerary. Ask yourself:

  1. What am I going to be doing on the holiday?
  2. Where am I going?
  3. How long am I going for?
  4. Do I intend to wash my clothes as I go?
  5. Most importantly, what is the weather going to be like

Bear in mind that denim can be heavy, and hot to wear as the temperature rises. I packed one pair of light weight jeans which I only wore twice in the early part of my trip, then it became too hot.

colourful dresses in Italy

Don’t be scared of packing colour either. I totally understand that the darker colours don’t stain as easily and are easier to style but they are also hotter in the sunshine. Try to stick to one colour palette, whichever suits you, as it makes it easier to mix and match.

Check the tours on your itinerary because you may visit sites where it is necessary to cover shoulders/arms/knees. Remember to take at least one top and skirt that will fit this requirement.

A list of the most suitable items to pack might include:

  • Wide legged pants,
  • soft flowing maxi or midi dresses,
  • tailored shorts and vest,
  • skirts (at least one that covers your knees)
  • cool tops that work well with all your bottoms
  • Stylish sneaker or sandals that have a non-slip sole (I noticed most of the Italian woman were wearing rubber soled sandals)
  • Accessories, but not too many
  • You may need a lightweight cardigan
  • I took my denim jacket which I used on the plane and on a few cooler evening

I love accessories but didn’t overload. Statement earrings were my go-to!

As it became hotter, I kept my makeup minimal and popped my lips with bright lipstick. There’s nothing worse than having your makeup slide off…

I found it safe to travel with my side bag, but you must always have one that you can zip or lock. And stay aware of who’s close to you. 

Look at the different bag sizes and what you need to carry with you. In some places we were required to carry our physical passports, so ease of access was important but also security.

vineyard, ruins and jeans

Have fun planning and packing for your next holiday, but remember that holiday packing is one of my most fun services. It can all be overwhelming and frustrating when there is also so much organising to do. You can end up taking way too much or not enough...

If this sounds like you, I would love to help make your next holiday a stylish experience.