When we went our European honeymoon, I overpacked. (As one does). It wasn’t a terrible thing, but I grossly overestimated how many clothes I needed for three weeks. I wanted to be prepared for every possible day, dinner, and event. Now that I’m a little more seasoned, I have a better idea of what needs to be on my Italy packing list. Turns out, you can do that by packing a few of the right items.
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Italy Packing List for Women
While your favorites might vary a little bit depending on the season or where you are going, this basic list is what I start with for every trip. I’ve included recommendations that work for me, but you should always try before you buy!
I very rarely pack a pair of high heels when I’m traveling to Italy. Unless we are going to see a performance or having portraits taken, I’ve learned to leave my high heels at home.
What do I bring instead?
☑Stuart Weitzman 50/50 Boots – These come in suede or leather. I have the suede version and I had my local cobbler waterproof them. They’ve traveled many miles with me. I love these in the fall and winter, especially.
☑Ecco Sensata Sandals – I haven’t seen the original version of these since 2015, but I wore mine for four years. I scour eBay and Poshmark for them from time to time. These are extremely comfortable and are perfect for spring and summer travel. (I wore out both navy and black pairs.)
☑Another sandal I love is the Kate Spade Tessa sandal. I’ve been snapping these up on the secondhand market, too. I have them in navy and brown. I’ve lost track of how old mine are. They are great for packing because they are flat and don’t take up any room.
☑Chloe Ballet Flats – I’ve tried a lot of flats, but none of them conform to my feet as well as these do. These shoes do not have a lot of support (comparatively), but they work for me. I bought my first pair in 2013 and finally wore them out in 2017.I had a pair of TB leather flats on our honeymoon in Venice and they didn’t survive a rainstorm. (They also dyed my feet purple for a few days. Yikes.) The Chloe flats come up on sale from time to time. If you can grab a pair, they are worth the investment.
Pro Tip: You’ll definitely want to break these in before you travel.
☑Sweaters and Cardigans
☑Cashmere sweaters – After a lot of trial and error, I have realized that the cashmere is the best option for shoulder season travel. I tend to shop the cashmere sales at Neiman Marcus. I like their styles best and they last longer than some cashmere at other department stores. (I had a sweater that was completely stretched and pilled after one trip.) Cashmere keeps me warm in the winter, especially when layered properly. That said, it is not too warm in the spring either. I also love that it’s easy to dress it up with jewelry, scarf, or with a skirt or pants.
Bonus: Cashmere sweaters are lighter or easier to pack than bulky cable-knit or wool sweaters
☑Cardigan sweater – No Italy packing list is complete without a cardigan. If you’re going to wear sleeveless tops or dresses (and I do!), you’ll want a cardigan to throw on before visiting a church. It’s also nice on a balmy evening when you don’t want a coat. I tend to pack a cardigan that goes with the bulk of my outfits – think cream or navy, but I’ve been known to mix it up with brighter colors, too. It just depends what is in my suitcase. I love the older Kate Spade basic cardigans. I’ve have had mine for 7 years now!
☑Slim Cut Pants
☑Skinny jeans – I refused to pack pants on our trips until 2016. In late 2015, I discovered the J Brand Maria jeans (the same ones that Duchess Catherine wears) and I never looked back. They have been a welcome addition to my wardrobe on rainy or cold days. A dark wash looks great with my boots and a cashmere sweater. Again, you can dress it up or down as much as you like, but as far as being cute and comfortable on rainy days (especially in Tuscany), this is a good look. These are always on sale, so shop around for them.
☑J Crew Pixie Pants – I generally reserve these for travel days. These stretch leggings are a great way to feel put together but not look like you are wearing athleisure. I couple them with a long silk top or a longer cashmere sweater.
If you want a more elevated legging, I highly recommend the Wolford Augusta leggings, but again, hard to find. These faux suede leggings are one of my favorite pieces that I purchased in 2018. I’m still on the hunt for the toasted almond pair for my spring wardrobe. eBay might be it.
☑Ready to Wear Dresses
I travel a lot for work and I travel a lot for fun. When I purchase dresses, I tend to purchase higher quality materials that travel better and require less care upon arrival. Further, I tend to purchase dresses with longer hemlines, modest cuts, and things that can be accessorized with a cardigan or a blazer. It’s not worth having two separate wardrobes.
Once I find a style I like, I might buy it in multiple colors, like in the case of the Emilia Wickstead Sheila dress. I might buy more than one, if I can find it on the secondhand market, too. (I’m picky.) This is particularly true for my my basic black wool dress by Alexander McQueen. The reason is simple: heavier materials travel better and classic styles are always in style. The Lela Rose dress I wore in our honeymoon photos is still very much a part of my wardrobe. I wore it a few years later in our anniversary photos in Venice. You can’t tell that the photos were taken years a part.
I like to pack a range of lengths, including a long dress or two. I never include anything that hits above the knee when packing for Italy. You never know when you’re going to find yourself in a church, and you don’t want to disrespect the local customs.
Pro Tip: Shop sales and secondhand sites. I have paid less for Emilia Wickstead, Lela Rose, and Alexander McQueen than I have for lesser quality, mass-produced brands. One of my favorite brands started to go cheap on the materials but higher on the prices. I can find Emilia and Alexander for less than what I would pay for stuff at full price. These brands last a lot longer, too.
☑Rachel Pally Dresses – I love traveling in the Rachel Pally stretch cotton dresses. They are extremely comfortable for long-haul flights. (Fun fact: I purchased mine prior to a trip to China in 2016. I still wear it for flights.) I also like them for train travel days, especially if you’re going to be on a longer train ride. The solid colors and simple lines of most of her designs make these dresses easy to pack and wear for multiple occasions.