Skip to main content

What I Wore in Italy

40 days, 40 different outfits, 1 suitcase, $250.
My $250 total is spread out over 4 years of purchasing, so there are some definite repeats of items, but not of combinations. How I put them together and accessorize makes them seem new again. 
Like our many travels, we went not as vacationers, but lived practically day-to-day; so while I wanted my wardrobe to be stylish, it also had to be functional. Here goes:

I started by choosing a color pallet for the summer--teal, apricot, black, white. Cardigans, accessories, and shoes were all streamlined to go with any combination. Varying shades of these colors along with the all-matching denim created interest. (Ignore my blue umbrella which I borrowed.)  ;) My tried-and-true apricot pants, are my highest cost item at $40. If you've been following my blog, you've seen them before.

The weather in Bologna shifted from 55 degrees when we arrived to 100 degrees when we left. Layers were key. I bought this sling purse as soon as I arrived for €7. At first a fun accessory purchase, it quickly became a necessity and you'll see it in almost every photo. This tissue-weight flowy tank is from the Bologna H&M, €5.

I did not entertain my Spring Break rule of "not buying new clothing". Hello, this is Europe! I purposefully tucked away some spending $$ and saved space in my suitcase for acquiring new items, such as this scarf that I found at a Florence market for 4 (Euro). I stuck with my rules of "within the color pallet," and rules or no rules, I am always frugal. ;)

Good thing we packed light! Our apartment (built before any man-made structure in America ever existed!) had no closets, so our belongings had to fit in this antique wardrobe. Once again, my apricot pants proved to be a good investment, not a trendy whim.


 Here's my airport outfit--comfy and I can remove the scarf (or cover up with it) depending on the temp inside the plane cabin. Each person in our 5-member family brought only 2 pair of shoes--1 in the bag, one on our feet. Europeans walk everywhere, so our shoes needed to be comfortable, supportive, and also match everything. These metallic criss-cross sandals were a gem of a find at DSW for $30 (Note: I did not include shoes or accessories in my wardrobe cost).

This trip to the park was the last time I wore these draw-string waist jeans ($19.99, Forever21). I really thought I'd wear them more, but the weather got hot fast, and I found myself wanting shorts!

This grey dress I found at Ross for $7. It's layered under the teal sweater, which is from Papaya outlet, $17. This day spent walking on campus required my Volatile black flip flops; they are supportive and save my back, legs, and feet. I wore Volatile exclusively during all 3 pregnancies! I have to be honest, I really don't care for this style anymore. At first, I had more stylish shoes packed, but I knew that once we were walking miles each day, I would care less about fashion and more about comfort. I am SO GLAD I chose wisely!


Here is my fave white crochet cardi ($12, Ross), which was a key piece in my Spring Break wardrobe as well. It fancies up any outfit, and when I add this flower (99 cents, Forever21), my ponytail doesn't seem so plain.

A chilly, foggy morning of market shopping required leggings and a thicker sweater. I consider neutral colored leggings and tank tops as basic as underwear. A good $5 investment, 3 years ago! (Forever21)

$8 Melon tunic over basic black leggings (which I've also had for 3 years. Walmart, $3), and basic black tank (H&M, $4).
Two other ways I wore it--scarfed and with a knotted black belt.

My daughter said, "Mommy, you look very American today--red, white & blue." :) Denim dress and red belt I got for FREE when I traded in a few old articles of clothing at Plato's Closet. This belt is the only piece not in the color pallet, but it didn't take up much room to pack and allowed for a little variance away from teal/apricot/black. {Ok, I just love this pic of us in front a mural at The University of Bologna, the oldest university in the world! Founded 1088. Copernicus studied there. Incredible!}


Picnic at the park in the same comfy dress, black leggings (and the knotted black belt is covered by my arm).

Jump back! I'm wearing the denim dress under this long flowing skirt and Natasha here didn't realize it was the same piece of clothing! This skirt I've had for 4 years. I bought it for $15 on the clearance rack of a little boutique near my home.
On the left, didn't take a pic that day. :) On the right, Long skirt with ruffle tank, $11, Papaya outlet. I like the accent of color from my turquoise earrings. My little Sweet Pea didn't want to pose for this picture. She also did not want to be left out of it, so she wasn't happy either way. Don't we all have those days? ;)

Here at St. Peter's Basilica, we had to have our knees covered as well as our shoulders. It was a hot day in Rome (further South than Bologna). I wore my scarf as a wrap while we were inside places requiring no-show-shoulders, and outdoors, I wore just my basic black tank, so I'm counting this as two outfits. This flowy skirt was less hot than jeans. Again my Volatile shoes for miles of walking.

Teal dress, $17, Target. Same crochet cardi and leggings. This chaise was in our bedroom in Bologna. Karl and I thought this pose would be silly.

 My mom bought this thick cardigan for me. She found it on the Old Navy clearance rack, $3.97. Pictured here I am grinning ear to ear as my year-long hunt for vintage boots has ended. And to find them made of genuine Italian leather at a boutique in Bologna = SO FUN!
Here are the boots!!! --worn to our cultural exchange where we taught our Italian friends how to Texas line dance! Teal dress also worn with walking shoes on a hike, and lastly layered under the American Eagle tank, $5, which was cinched with a belt.

So like I said earlier, it was getting HOT in Italy. I previously thought I would make it through with just my dresses, but really wanted shorts for walking. Let me tell ya, it's hard to find shorts this season in a modest length. These H&M green twill shorts, €14, were a life-saver!

 Green shorts, 3 more ways. Forgot to mention the details of this 3/4-length shirt. Forever 21, $9.

I also purchased these skorts in Bologna for €14. They are thin with a stretchy waist. Need I spell out C-O-M-F-O-R-T! Tucked in the ruffle tank and neutral cami.


I wore the skorts lower on my hips for a romper-look. The blue beads were my grandma's. :)

So we had a bit of a laundry-problem while there--when the weather turned hot, the water started to smell a little (well reek actually), and our laundry would sour before it could dry. This day I was out of clean shirts that were for warm weather, so my friend Caitlin (in the previous picture) loaned me her salmon t-shirt. Part of my color pallet, it paired nicely with the skorts. Just one more reason why it's more fun to travel with friends!

Pink skirt, Target clearance, $6 (and it came with this turquoise belt!).


Over the denim dress! Almost exact replica of an outfit I had pinned on Pinterest.

Last piece: Black and white striped dress, last year as a gift with a Forever21 gift card, $20. I LOVE this dress!

Peplum black cardi, Target clearance, last year, $6.
On a cold day with teal sweater + black leggings. 2nd pic = Clunky belt and wrap bracelet makes it less classic and more trendy.

Last airport. On the return flight. The jacket I found at the "Temporary Store" in Rome (think close-out) for a whopping €9. And my glasses at H&M for...what was it? 4 or 5, after my other ones broke. Honestly, I'm kinda glad they did, these are super fun! 

One last outfit....
I saw this gorgeous long flowing white dress in a store front, which reminded me of Marisa Tomei's dress in "Only You" (a movie that my teenage bff and I POURED over) cost €200. Uh, no way (that's the cost of my entire wardrobe!!). BUT one of our students, Madi, brought a long white dress with her. Borrowing = a big $aver!
A romantic Italian street-dining experience, Bolognese lasagna, gelato, shopping, and a long-flowing white dress = a date-night-dream-come-true!







Popular posts from this blog

An Avenue of Opportunity

This summer marks our 12th year of raising support. In other words, we raise all the money that funds our ministry, our income, our health benefits, our social security taxes; i.e. everything. I was casually chatting with a friend over lunch yesterday (casually because we were sitting on damp beach blankets while our kids picnicked in swimsuits in the backyard) about how God has changed my view of this task of support-raising over the years.
When we began fresh out of college, the idea of support-raising seemed daunting, but faith-stretching. And I worried what people would think of us. Would they think we are beggars?

We focused on "God, will you meet our needs?"
"Yes, I will; in my time," answered the Almighty.

He slowly led us to compassionate individuals, many of whom we had never met, and we had the privilege of experiencing His provision through the compassion of His people.

The abundance of His provision has ebbed and flowed over the years--needs always met, …

Top 10 Reasons Why People Don't Read the Bible

I've spent 15 years in ministry, and I've found an increasing problem that people who say they believe the Bible haven't actually read it and people who don't believe the Bible don't want to, mostly because of the misbehavior of the former. My suggested solution to both groups is to read it for yourself, not only because you will be accurately informed, but also because there is none such other source that proves to bring about life-changing joy and peace. When I mention this, it usually surfaces at least one of these 10 barriers that prevent folks from completing it.
Do you relate to any of these barriers?
Will you accept my challenge to read the Bible for yourself this year?
Can I persuade you that there is no good reason to say no?


10 Reasons Most People Don't Read the Bible, Refuted 1. I'm not religious. The Bible is the best-selling book of all time. Jesus has been hailed by secular sources as the most influential person to ever walk on the earth. Most…

Free Lock Screens to Renew Your Mind and Purpose

5 years ago I created the acronym WHY as a way of pausing before using my smartphone. I've shared with audiences both live and digital how important it is to be intentional with technology.

Here are 5 free lock screens from my most recent student conference--Big Break.

You can read more perspective on this topic in an article I wrote for Cru Winter Conference.