We present a protocol to estimate the solvent-induced broadening of electronic spectra based on a model that explicitly takes into account the environment embedding the solute. Starting from a classical approximation of the solvent contribution to the spectrum, the broadening arises from the spread of the excitation energies due to the fluctuation of the solvent coordinates, and it is represented as a Gaussian line shape that convolutes the vibronic spectrum of the solute. The latter is computed in harmonic approximation at room temperature with a time-dependent approach. The proposed protocol for the computation of spectral broadening exploits molecular dynamics (MD) simulations performed on the solute-solvent system, keeping the solute degrees of freedom frozen, followed by the computation of the excitation properties with a quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics (QM/MM) approach. The factors that might influence each step of the protocol are analyzed in detail, including the selection of the empirical force field (FF) adopted in the MD simulations and the QM/MM partition of the system to compute the excitation energies. The procedure is applied to a family of coumarin dyes, and the results are compared with experiments and with the predictions of a very recent work (Cerezo et al., Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 2015, 17, 11401-11411), where an implicit model was adopted for the solvent. The final spectra of the considered coumarins were obtained without including ad hoc phenomenological parameters and indicate that the broadenings computed with explicit and implicit models both follow the experimental trend, increasing as the polarity change from the initial to the final state increases. More in detail, the implicit model provides larger estimations of the broadening that are closer to the experimental evidence, while explicit models appear to better capture relative differences arising from different solvents or different solutes. Possible inaccuracies of the adopted FF that may lead to the observed underestimation are analyzed in detail.

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