As Americans, some of us think it is socially acceptable to be seen in public in sweatpants, running shorts, hoodies, t-shirts, ext…. Personally, I have never been taught this, but many of us have. In Italy and the majority of Europe however, this is not the norm. This article is to help future travelers know what and what not to pack when heading to Europe.
Of course there are no official rules against what you can and can’t wear (except in churches), there is 100% a set of unspoken norms in Europe. Jeans are the most casual thing you should go out in public wearing. Most people wear black/grey jeans, khakis, skirts, or dresses. In Rome especially, people will not wear shorts in the city; pants are worn year round.
Another important rule… don’t show your toes. The ground in Rome is dirty; try not to wear sandals until it is absolutely necessary. If it is extremely hot and you must wear shorts, try to wear a dress or nice dress shorts. DO NOT WEAR RUNNING/BASKETBALL SHORTS…EVER!
No one has to follow these dress guidelines, but there are benefits to doing so:
- Tourists are targeted for pickpocketing; if you look like a local, you are less likely to be robbed.
- Tourists are also taken advantage of when being charged for things like taxis and other services; so for the same reason as above, look local.
- You will be permitted to enter any of the churches if you are properly dressed. Your shoulders, midriff, and below your knees must be covered in order to go into most churches in Rome.
- Locals will be friendlier to you if you attempt to follow their social norms, just as you would do if foreigners were in the United States.