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The Art of Dressing Italian

who is Italian and who is not as you walk the streets of Florence is easy. Why? By looking at what they wear. But what is it that sets casually chic Italians apart from the rest of us? In search of the answer to this question, I visited a few of the top fashion houses in Italy to get opinions on the differences between Italian and American fashion habits. Here is a list of what it takes according to local experts, to dress like a true Italian.

Wear neutrals. The first thing every single fashion expert I talked pointed out was color scheme. Italians can always be spotted wearing neutrals, black being their basic go-to. This means forgoing your bright, floral dresses and opting for beige, white, or black pieces. If you want to add a hint of color, choose an accent piece, such as a red bag or colorful scarf.

Exchange comfort for class. Americans are known for a sporty and casual style, often choosing outfits based first on comfort. Italians, on the other hand, select outfits to accentuate their bodies, wearing tighter, more form-fitting pieces. For you men out there, this means switching those tee-shirts and cargo shorts for a good pair of jeans, a tailored shirt and a suit jacket. Women should consider getting rid of those loose cotton tank tops, dresses and jean shorts and choosing instead an elegant skirt, a form-fitting top and a pair of heels. And the number one piece of advice? Toss out those flip-flops.

For your basics, invest in luxury pieces. This doesn’t mean purchasing an entirely new designer wardrobe in order to achieve that coveted Italian style. Instead, focus on investing in the basics. The top two recommended pieces to splurge on are shoes and bags. Take a stroll down Via Tornabuoni to find stores that carry amazing leather pieces to fill your closet, and perhaps empty your bank account.

Mix casual with formal. Americans are often seen in one of two extremes, either all-out formal with a suit and tie, or utterly bumming-out in jeans and T-shirt. Italians on the other hand, are known to mix these casual and formal to give their style a unique flair. Try starting off with a more casual outfit, then mixing in a few formal pieces, such as adding a blazer to your regular shirt and jeans. Your look will instantly become casually chic.

If blending in with the locals instead of sticking out yet another tourist is your goal, following these tips should help. Even so, remember that a large camera dangling around your neck and giant map in your hand may still give your true identity away.

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