How do Italians dress?

Coolly fashionable

Or, better still, effortlessly chic. That’s what most foreigners think about the way Italians dress. Italian Clothing is cool and tailored. Stylish yet unaffected. Confidently fetching at all times, whether sitting on the bus or in a pash cafè. Always.

Why is how Italians dress unique?

Having lived in Italy my whole life, traveled around the world and spent months at a time in the US I think I’ve figured it out. It’s the “always” that makes the difference. Italian clothing is something more than a style, it is a way of life.

Italians dress well as a rule

In some countries people daily honor strict religious or customary dress codes. In others comfort rules over style, (hence the baggy wrinkled T-shirt reigns). Italians dress well, – meaning smartly, with an eye to balance, color-matching and harmony – at all times. 

Yes, although modern era comfortable clothing has (alas!) shown up in Italy too, most Italians do their best to face their daily toil lookin’ good

They’re turned out at the grocer’s, walking to work and picking-up-the-kids-from-school. 

In a phrase: when they have the possibility Italians dress chic – albeit not necessarily in Dolce&Gabbana and Moschino – for everyday life.


Italian Clothing and Beauty-addiction 

It’s all in the backdrop

Just look around any run-of-the-house Italian city, town or village in-the-middle-of-nowhere. You’ll see monuments, medieval fountains, marble-paved churches and statues. 

Vineyard-clad hills under the summer sun, pastel villages along the coast. Venice’s canals and bridges. In Italy allure, loveliness and innate grace are everywhere. 

Italians are addicted to beauty. And dress the part.

Traditional Italian Clothing

traditional italian clothing

No, there is no such thing as a traditional Italian dress. So… what about the colorful folk garments worn by musicians in Roman restaurants? They’re just vestiges of the past worn to gratify tourists’ expectations. 

Italy’s regions’ embrace a variety of diverse heritage and climates. That’s why there is no national traditional Italian dress. From Sardinia to Calabria, Basilicata, Puglia and Sicilia – Italian Southern regions have lots of traditional Italian clothing still in use for many ceremonies. The same happens in the Northern regions like Val d’Aosta and Trentino,

How do you say dress in Italian?

Vestire means to dress. The nounvestito means clothing in Italian. It is used both for a lady/girl’s dress and for a man’s suit.  To wear is indossare. While there is no set Italian dress code the adjective one wants to use with vestire is bene i.e. well.

So, how do Italians dress?

What does vestire bene actually mean, and imply? Dressing like an Italian certainly involves:

  • Good Quality: wearing good quality clothing, shoes, accessories is a must. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean everyone’s clad in Gucci and Armani. But everyone makes the effort to buy the best they can afford and combine items tastefully. 
  • Real Fabrics: The majority of Italians wear wool, cotton, linen etc. Fleece, jersey, polyester, nylon exist of course, but are mainly used for the gym, ski slope or pool. A present-day exception? Faux fur is all the rage on the runways as on the streets, but a lot of people still wear the real deal too!
  • The Right Size: Italians choose clothing suited to their body’s characteristics.  Shapeless attire is not generally considered an option, so Italians tend to have a somewhat outfitted air regardless of age, shape, and looks.
  • Looking After Clothes (i.e. no wrinkles): Italians cherish and treasure their garments, they take care of them, make sure they keep well and look good. 

Need an example? When I was a little girl my nanny ironed my underpants and my socks. My American relatives and friends still do not believe me. 

Italians iron their clothes (and their sheets). Always. 

Italian Clothing Men

italian clothing style

Italian clothing for men are distinctive. Men’s trousers are long. Shorts are worn at the beach, or, occasionally, on very hot weekends in the daytime. No shorts in the evening, regardless of the temperature.Basically: thighs, knees, shoulders, backs and stomachs have to be covered.  The same rules, though less strictly enforced, apply to all other churches in Italy

Wondering how to dress in Italy? 

Want to blend with the locals when in Italy? Or just looking into dressing like an Italian for a change? 

The first thing you want to keep in mind to dress like an Italian (apart from ironing!) is

Attire is Chosen for the Occasion 

Italians are seldom under or over-dressed. This is because they think about it, selecting what to wear according to their plans and whom they will be with. 

Dresses for Weekdays and Weekends

Trousers – and jeans, preferably designer – tailored shirts, finespun knitwear and blazers on men and women during the day, with a focus on suits (with or without a tie) and skirts/dresses for the workplace. 

Easier weekdays and weekends bring on more jeans, casual sweaters and mellow jumpers. 

Church Clothes 

There is no binding Italian dress code for everyday life, but there is a firm dress code for the Vatican in Rome, Italy. Valid for all the Vatican buildings (St Peter‘s, Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel) and Vatican Gardens it bans shorts, mini skirts and sleeveless tops. So these rules are also those relative to church clothes.

Italians Dress Up for Dinners, Parties and Festive Happenings

Does the average Italian dress up? Oh yes! Swanky formal wear – dark suits with a tie for men, glossy dresses for ladies, sparkly ensembles and vivid colors for the younger set – is for dinner parties, fancy restaurants, clubbing and New Year’s Eve. 

Remember: there’s no set Italian dress code and it’s never a question of age or status. Even nonna – grandma – will get a brand new silk frock for a family wedding, but no restaurant will kick you out for not wearing a tie or jacket.

Italian Clothing: Winter

Sophisticated-looking well-cut coats, heavy duty anoraks and parkas, leather jackets and stylish down jackets. 

All preferably in subtle colors, or warming winter tones. Scarves and hats to go with them. 

Italian Clothing: Summer

italian clothing

Countless girlfriends have asked me how to dress like an Italian woman. And, especially, how to dress like an Italian woman in summer. Be sunny! Bright-colored capris, jeans and cropped pants. Flower prints, patterns and stripes on shirts. 

And don’t forget summer dresses. Fabrics, again, are key: choice cotton, lawn, brushed cotton and linen are all time favorites. Case in point: off-white Positano-like linen dresses will never go out of  style.

Clothes and Colors

Gaudy, loud, flashy colors are seldom worn by Italians, who prefer soft, low-key, neutral hues. Playing with stone, sand, beige, russet, coral  or light blue hues is a favorite. 

This said, accessories or single garments in vivid tones – such as lemon-yellow, red, orange or green – are used to brighten an outfit.  

Gym wear

What about US-beloved gym shoes, sweats, sweatshirts, athletic T-shirts etc.? Do they stand a chance in Italian dress styles? Sure, they all enjoy a long and happy life… working out at the gym or running in the park. 

Want to dress like an Italian? Remember that (unless we’re talking about hip designer gym shoes like Hogan, Gucci and Valentino) athletic wear is worn to work out. And that’s it. 

Just follow these few tips, be imaginative and you’ll dress to kill!

Speak English, Kiss French and especially Dress Italian at all times.

Yes, always. Considering that…

Italians dress to stay home during lockdowns

italian pizza maker

It’s an eye-opening fact. Italian market surveys show that overall sales of luxury clothing did not drop during the March – May 2020 lockdown! 

People kept on buying online. And wearing their hot new fashions at home. And Rome and Milan’s signore wore stilettos to throw out the garbage


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