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How to Dress in Umbria? | Manolo's Shoe Blog

How to Dress in Umbria?

Manolo says, one of the Manolo’s internet friends, the Rondi, has asked the Manolo the question.

Happy Sunday to the Manolo!

I have a serious question for you. I have won a scholarship to study in Italy and will be spending time in Umbria in September. Naturally, I would like to avoid looking like a dorky tourist and having Italians mock me. Can you give me some advice on what to pack? I am planning to bring a good deal of black


Umbria Bella

(including black ballerina flats) but I also would like to bring my white jeans. Italians celebrate their Labour Day on May 1st, I believe, so I doubt they have a “no white after Labour Day” hang-up as do North Americans. That said, I am concerned they might look down their Roman noses at white jeans in September, or that said white jeans will cause the locals to shun me.
Please advise, both on the matter of the white jeans and in regards what to bring in general.

Your loyal fan and friend from the internets,


It has been the while since the Manolo has been in Umbria, so he turned to another of his internet friends, the Judith who lives in Umbria, for help with this question.

Here is her most informative and helpful answer.

Italians wear white everything all year if they please. I do have reservations about the jeans. It is often too hot to wear jeans until Octoberish. In addition, jeans take forever to dry and of course white jeans would need a lot of washing.

My younger friends will be wearing light dresses with added cardigans for evening and the ballet flats would look terrific with that, but may not protect your feet adequately from the relentless stone and cobble pavements. You can be sure that many Italian girls will be wearing ludicrously high heels and walking along the stone like little donkeys. It’s genetic. Those of us with a little more maturity on our bones will be wearing light weight linen pants, often black in autumn, sometimes with drawstring waists. Heat and pasta do require a bit of flexibility at least in attitude and sometimes in waist bands. Those of a lower rung on the ladder of aspirations may very well be wearing polyester knit trousers, but you won’t notice that much unless they are too tight, which is a reach in this land of the painted-on pant.

Italian girls accessorize, so doing layers works for the look and for the awkward difference between Hades at noon and Scotland at night. Scarves, gauzey sweaters, netted vests, all help disguise the fact that years of financial crisis have made cheap clothes common and necessary. When the right girls get them on and adjusted and knotted just right, they look splendid.

Cowboy boots have not died the death they deserved as summer shoes. They do look cute with summer dresses but whew!

More than anything, a confidence, a swish and an eye for the dramatic really work here. Carrie Bradshaw learned everything she knew from Italian girls.

And now you must go visit the Judith’s website, she will teach you how to cook like the real Italian

As for the shoes, the Manolo is at the moment partial to the Maria Sharipova’s Bacara Ballet Flats from the Cole Haan.

Maria Sharipova Air Bacara Ballet Flats for Cole Haan

They are available in six colors, and are reportedly comfortable for the walking, practical, and sufficiently good looking so as to satisfy the Rondi’s Umbrian needs.

9 Responses to “How to Dress in Umbria?”

  1. Rondi August 27, 2012 at 8:30 am #

    What a treat to have my question answered exactly as I am packing! Thank you to the Manolo and the Judith. I had decided already against any colour of jeans as I checked the long-range weather forecast and saw how bloody boiling it will be. Judith, I shall check your website anon.

  2. Klee August 27, 2012 at 11:05 am #

    As a part-time Italian resident, i can second Judoth’s nixing of white jeans: too heavy and will get dirty. i am travelling for 3 months with a carry on bags, with some washable jersey dresses, Wearing leggings with boots and layering. You want a thick rubber sole, wedge if you need heels, Cole Haan or, a biyt pricier but worth every penny, Arche.

  3. Dana August 27, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    Congratulations to you, Rondi. What a lovely place to study & what a wonderful experience you will have!

    I heartily second Judith’s advice regarding the white jeans, having suffered through the experience with my daughter’s pair last summer while visiting Europe. As the one in charge of keeping my family of five presentable on our trip, I noticed right away that washing & drying was significantly more challenging. The appliances we encountered were very energy & water efficient due to the cost of utilities, and it could take hours to do one load of laundry. Often people hung things out to dry. Since we weren’t terribly good at planning for this, we did pack damp items a time or two!

    From my perspective, dark, lightweight “travel-friendly” clothing is a good idea even if one takes along quite a bit of luggage, just for maintenance reasons. Layering up is not only attractive, but practical. And fun!

  4. Anne B. August 27, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

    Manolo dear, thank you so much for this post – not only for the photo of the lovely flats, but for the links to both Judith and Rondi – I have not had the pleasure of reading them before, and I am delighted to have discovered them.

    Rondi, it may be that the much-vaunted Italian fashion sense is on the wane, or perhaps was always exaggerated. When my son was stationed in Germany a few years ago, he took a short trip to Rome with a friend. His comment on their way of dressing was “Have you ever looked at those pictures of models in really freakish clothes and wondered, ‘Who wears that stuff?’ ” [Slightly bowdlerized here; being a US Army Sergeant,he did not use the word “stuff.”] He went on to say “ITALIANS wear that stuff,” and described a couple of horrors he had seen on the streets of Rome. :-)
    But he was not talking about the layered young ladies mentioned by Judith.

    I hope you have a fantastic time in Italy, however you dress.

  5. Klee August 27, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

    A Milanese would never br caught in Roman wear

  6. Bronwyn August 27, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

    Why do Americans assume other countries have their weird white clothes thing? As far as I know, America is the only country that has strange rules about what colour clothes you can wear at different times of the year. People in other countries think it is very strange. There are rules about what colour you should wear to various events, and I believe there are still places where widows wear black, but ONLY IN AMERICA do people make rules about colours in seasons.

  7. Anne B. August 27, 2012 at 8:50 pm #

    “As far as I know, America is the only country that has strange rules about what colour clothes you can wear at different times of the year.”

    Rondi is Canadian: see spelling of “Labour Day.”

  8. Brogan McPherson August 27, 2012 at 10:40 pm #

    This is a great post! I just purchased the Cole Haan in pink and plan to wear them for a extended pack packing trip to Europe (including Italy!). I’ve tested them out a few times standing at my 8hoursadayonyourfeet job and they are stil super comfortable at the end of the day!

    great choice http://thisbrogan.blogspot.ca/2012/08/fashion-fridays-vegas-shopping.html

  9. Andyshoes August 30, 2012 at 2:15 pm #

    Indeed! I second/third/fourth the congratulations to Rondi!

    I have those Cole Haan flats in that exact “aqua” colour and love them. The colour is actually very flexible – it goes with white, black, brown and “natural” linen very nicely. A great way to get a pop of colour and be comfortable at the same time. What more could a girl want?