"It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone” – John Steinbeck.
Italian style is polished, and fashion for the Amalfi Coast is no different. For decades, the most sartorially inclined individuals have commandeered the nation’s southern stretch of seaside as their catwalk. In fact, ever since Steinbeck’s 1953 essay on the destination for Harper’s Bazaar, an old-school Hollywood style sensibility has reigned.
To match the cobbled streets and historic buildings, high-impact fashion is best left off your Amalfi Coast packing list. Instead, embrace light linens, paler shades and a Mediterranean frame of mind.
The hues of the Italian seaside
“In winter the Amalfi Coast is like a very beautiful Monet watercolour. In the mid seasons it comes alive like a Picasso, and in summer it peaks as a Kandinsky – very abstract, colourful and totally fun”, wrote Amanda Tabberer in her travelogue, My Amalfi Coast.
Gently polychromatic, artistic and inherently sophisticated, style at the Amalfi Coast is unique. This is no place for brash prints and loud shades: leave those for Ibiza. Instead, take inspiration from the aforementioned artists and opt for soft hues in delicate fabrics – with the odd injection of Kandinsky-esque patterns.
The SS16 and AW16 catwalks were awash with Monet-inspired shades and vibrant abstract prints that are ideal for a long weekend in Italy. Look to Kenzo for dresses in light, feminine fabrics with quirky patterns to wear for an afternoon stroll. A Roberto Cavalli jacket marries high-end style with artisanal design, epitomising the fashionable Amalfi Coast.
For menswear, it’s difficult to veer off track with the Italian fashion house giants; Dolce & Gabbana’s SS16 trousers featuring all-over pineapple patterns are particularly fetching with a sleek Cuban-collared shirt.
Retro fashion for a modern holiday
Nostalgia runs deep on the Amalfi Coast, and vintage Resort styles are positively encouraged. Evoke the aura of Hollywood actors who reclined on the area's beaches, including Jayne Mansfield and Humphrey Bogart, by donning a graphic stripe or subtle check – prints embraced by Jonathan Saunders and Victoria Beckham for SS16. Try a ‘70s feel with Roksanda dresses: the bell sleeves and psychedelic patches are ideal for a late-night wander through the narrow lanes of the fashionable Amalfi Coast.
The AW16 menswear catwalks combined utilitarian silhouettes with neutral tones. The ‘70s-style safari jacket was seen in various guises and offers a beguiling combination of form and function to add to your packing list for the Amalfi Coast. Browse Belstaff for jackets with a biker edge to shrug on late at night, or choose a ‘40s revival design by Gucci. Shorts are discouraged in many hotels on the island, so opt for Bogart-style tailoring with loose chinos and an open-collared shirt. Everyone from Margaret Howell to Berluti suggests adding a neckerchief – but leave that trilby at home.
Life’s a beach on the Amalfi Coast
Though it goes without saying, the postcard-worthy backdrop of pastel-hued houses and sweeping cliffs calls for elegant swimming costumes. Fleur du Mal beachwear for Resort 2016 offers a fusion of Victoriana and contemporary styling: think classically cut shapes with corset lacing and belted detailing. For something a shade more contemporary, a bikini from Lisa Marie Fernandez combines a sporting aesthetic with feminine elements.
Look to Valentino swim shorts for men’s beachwear: nature-inspired dreamscapes play out in subtle shades, offering sophisticated style with an avant-garde spin. Alternatively, tailored designs in gelato hues by cutting-edge label Orlebar Brown will bring a touch of London cool to your fashion for the Amalfi Coast.
Still deciding what to pack for your Amalfi Coast holiday? No Mediterranean holiday is complete without a pair of leather gladiator sandals. Perfect for strolling around – Jane Birkin basket in hand – in search of focaccia, a knee-high pair will convert your ensemble from stereotypical tourist to fashion pundit. Stuart Weitzman, which is renowned for its caged sandals, has lace-up pairs that are essential for your daytime Amalfi Coast packing list, while Toga offers platform versions for evening. Guys can embrace the history of the area with finely crafted Ancient Greek Sandals, embellished with Hermes-style wings in supple leather.
A spellbinding corner of Europe, the Amalfi Coast offers timeless Italian elegance with laid-back panache. Choose flowing designs with playful prints and a retro twist, or go for modern minimalism with a splash of sports-luxe. Fashion for the Amalfi Coast doesn’t take itself seriously – but nor does it announce itself loudly.