Rome Tip: Look the part without breaking the bank

Posted in: Rome Practical Info


Steel heels for Roman ladies; Photo by alibaster
Steel heels for Roman ladies; Photo by alibaster

By Sav D’Souza in Rome—In Rome adherence to the bella figura (beautiful figure) is considered important. And, hey, for some of us – when in Rome – it’s more fun to do as the Romans do. Here are my top suggestions for escaping a visit from the style polizia.

For the donna

Ride high!

Whether it’s hopping on a motorini or taking on those ancient, cobbled streets, strong and dominant high heels are de rigueur for Roman ladies. Get the look on-the-cheapo: Head for the Piazza dell’Emporio in the Testaccio area. Just a short walk from the Piramide Metro and outside the vegetable market you’ll find stalls packed with great, sexy shoes at bargain prices. Ciao down!

And another thing…

Mini skirts and short shorts for the ladies are deemed declassé and, worse yet, touristy.


One man's shoes; photo by Sav D'Souza

For the uomo

Walk in his shoes.

Not wearing a decent pair of shoes here is considered in extremely bad taste. Also, with such an elaborate array of shoe stores all over the city, and for every budget, there is simply no excuse to be soul-less. Get the look on the cheapo: For good deals and decent prices, check out Mas Allo Statuto (11, Via della Statuto). It’s between Termini station and Piazza Vittorio and has four floors full of choice stuff.

Dress the part.

You will notice that everyone from the street vendor to the taxi driver dresses “up” in Rome. It’s appreciated if you slip on a smart shirt, trousers and shoes. Get the look on the cheapo: A cool shop for guys is the Ivy Oxford on Via due Macelli (near the Spanish Steps). Here you can snag stylish new togs without breaking the bank.

And another thing…

Skinny jeans are pretty much the norm among the young dudes in Rome. Get the look on the cheapo: The easy answer here is H&M. Stores are located at Via Cristoforo Colombo 714, (Rome 00144), on Via Collatina, (Roma Lunghezza 00010) and at 201, Via Alberto Lionello (Roma Bufalotta). Also worth a look for good prices: Benetton. There’s a store on Via Nazionale.

For all man (and woman) kind

Some schmancy knock-off shades; Photo by Sav D'Souza

Some schmancy knockoff shades; Photo by Sav D’Souza

Proper shading

You’ve gotta have shades in Rome. No matter if it’s overcast or you find yourself indoors unable to see a thing, it’s all about the look. Designer sunglasses and their doppelganger knockoffs are essential for blending in here.  Get the look on the cheapo: Take a stroll along Via Nazionale and you are bound to spy street vendors selling designer shades. Remember these Chanel and Dolce versions lack authenticity, so haggle away until you get a price that’s right.

Good branding

Big name labels and brands are big stuff in Rome. Some of the most frequently encountered are the ubiquitous Lacoste polo shirts, Converse and Adidas trainers, and—that’s right—those flashy name brand sunglasses. These are all considered wardrobe staples. Get the look on the cheapo: The market on Via Sannio (near the San Giovanni Metro station) is a great place to pick up labels at a fraction of their normal cost. Remember, those prepared to haggle will get further reductions.

Snow suit

Even if it seems like a mild day – perhaps even a touch on the warm side – Romans don a coat, scarf and sometimes a chic, woolly hat. Get the look on the cheapo: The area around Castel Sant’Angelo sells scarves and hats at good prices.

About the author

About the author: Sav D’Souza is a freelance journalist currently based in Rome. He has worked as a journalist in Hawaii, Prague, and London and contributed features to the Guardian, Daily Telegraph, SA Sports Illustrated, Prague Post and CNBC Europe. He is a demon pool player, enjoys a round of golf, playing poker, and the occasional gin and tonic.

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