Adopt a Vacation Persona (Hint: It Begins When You Pack)

Maria explains how what she wears shapes her travel experience.

Where are you going, and who do you want to be when you get there?

Where are you going, and who do you want to be when you get there?

I ask myself this question often, especially during this time of year. I was born in Sicily, and now I divide my time between homes in New England and Miami. But I regularly find myself in Italy—for work and pleasure. White denim and a pair of drivers can instantly put me in that Cape Cod state of mind, while the Italian coast practically dares me to put on a flowing caftan and Positano sandals. For me, travel isn’t just about reaching the destination — it’s also about who I become when I arrive. The way I dress can set the tone for an entire trip, and even change the way I experience a new locale.

There’s a uniform for business…

When traveling on business, I stay true to my Boston uniform — all black (handy when your day includes wearing lots of different shoes to test for fit and design). I always make sure to bring some dark denim with me to factory visits. I don’t want to be wearing anything light-colored when handling shoe prototypes and dyed leathers.

…but leisure has no uniform.

Vacation is when I give myself full permission to try new things — and I’ll really go all out! The key is to still stick to a color story (say, white, denim, silver, and luggage), so it all works together. It’s my chance to deviate from my usual wardrobe, and enjoy pieces that are softer, more feminine and just more experimental. I’ll even pack pieces that I’ve never worn before — it sets the table for feeling adventurous and laid-back. The way I want to feel on vacation!

When in Rome

Some of my favorite destinations have a local uniform, and I love to dip into it and feel like a true local. When I’m in Capri I wear far more white than I’d ever dream of wearing in the city. It feels so right with all the blue and white tile. And when I find myself in Forte dei Marmi (a Tuscan seaside town I can never get enough of), I’ll make the most of its beach-all-day spirit and bicycle-only town square by wearing relaxed linen, lace, and flats to bike in.

Market Value

I always know exactly what I’m packing for a work trip, but if it’s vacation I always leave a little room in my luggage. Why? The local markets. Whenever I’m in a new town I’ll seek out its central piazza market on my bicycle with cash on hand (remember: you can’t haggle with a credit card). While I adore the markets in Capri and Sardinia (great for hand-stitched shirts), nothing beats the market in Forte dei Marmi. It’s there that I find myself picking up playful pieces like tops with dazzling paillettes or even glitter. I don’t consider these “serious” purchases. They’re fun and of the moment, a chance to break out of my usual shopping regimen and embrace the newness of a fresh environment. I’ll wear them on my trip and pull them out again when I return.

Leave the Jewelry (Mostly) Behind

I travel with very little jewelry. I just don’t want to worry about something expensive or one-of-a-kind getting lost in transit. Travel is when I break out my fun costume pieces, like a pair of amber-colored faux crystal earrings I bought in Florence or a pair of vintage, oversized Chanel CC danglers I picked up years ago in Paris. They can elevate absolutely any outfit I go out in. And best of all, they rekindle fond memories of another trip from long ago.

Ballerinas are always in Maria’s bag.

But Don’t Skimp on Shoes

It’s just incredible how a pair of shoes can transform a look, and I like to bring lots of options and experiment. Ballerinas are always in my bag (right now I’m wearing our Glassa ballerina). There’s no shoe I’d rather fly with. But I always make sure to bring an assortment. My other must-packs are a heel for night time, and Capri sandals for the afternoon. The flat shape and light weight of the sandals means that I can always pack a few.

P.S. I recommend that you always pack your shoes inside of their M.Gemi shoe bags in order to protect the shoes themselves and the clothing that surrounds them. I also stuff the toe box of every shoe with tissue paper to protect the shape (our editorial director uses socks in a pinch).

Take a peek at our latest issue. I hope you’ll experiment with style on your summer adventures — and hit the heart button to encourage friends to do the same.

Maria Gangemi is a Sicilian-born shoe aficionado and namesake of M.Gemi, where she heads our design and merchant team.

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