How To: Dress in Italy as a Tourist

How To: Dress in Italy as a Tourist

If you are planning to visit Italy in the near future, deciding what to wear can be stressful. As you may know, Italy is one of the most fashionable countries in the world. Italians have a strong attachment to their everyday clothing items. This attachment stems from the history and culture that stems from the beginning of the Italian Renaissance. During this time, Italians used clothing as a form of self-expression. Their fashion choices expressed personal style, confidence, and wealth.

Today, Italians continue to use fashion for some of the same reasons. It is not uncommon to see women dressed in long elegant skirts, high-quality fabrics, and chic oversized coats. Luckily for you, no one is expecting you to look exactly like an Italian. Some travelers just prefer to blend in and in turn,  embrace the culture of the country they are visiting. What better way to accomplish this than by looking like a local!

With that being said, just as fast as the seasons change, so does fashion. It is important to pack clothing items that are both appropriate and fashionable for each season. This article will help you finalize the perfect packing list and will leave you feeling confident as you explore some of Italy’s most favored regions. 

Spring Fashion

As the flowers begin to bloom and the prices begin to drop, these sunkissed streets of Italy welcome all travelers who are eager to explore everything this country has to offer. For the duration of March, April, and May you will be able to appreciate comfortable temperatures of low 70s F during the day and high 50s F throughout the evenings. Nevertheless, you can also expect occasional rainfall and even snow in some regions as well. 

In general, springtime fashion in Italy consists of neutral and pastel colors incorporated with this list of various capsule clothing items:

  • Light-weight sweaters    
  • Elevated basic tops          
  • Oversized blazers              
  • Long-sleeve button downs           
  • Relaxed fit denim jeans
  • Denim skirts 
  • Maxi skirts             
  • Trousers                
  • Dresses                
  • Sneakers     

The springtime for Italian fashion is all about layering. Layering is a strategic approach to fashion that makes it seem like you know what you’re doing even when you don’t. It is the most practical way to stay warm for those chilly springtime mornings and refreshed as the temperatures rise throughout the day. 

Styling for Day and Night

During the day, Italian women are seen pairing long pleated skirts with a white button-down shirt layered over a neutral long-sleeve turtleneck. You may also notice a more casual approach to springtime fashion with outfits that consist of neutral trousers paired with an elevated basic shirt that is layered with a light cardigan and a blazer. In terms of dresses, long dresses are best for spring weather when paired with boots and a blazer. 

It is important to remember that you are dressing like an onion. As you explore various attractions throughout the day, the sun will be difficult to get rid of. Luckily for you, getting rid of a piece of clothing won’t be. Peeling off a jacket or cardigan will still keep the stylistic reminisce of your outfits without entirely disturbing your work of art. 

Speaking of exploring, deciding what shoes to wear is just as much a fashion choice as it is a safe choice. Italy is filled with cobblestone streets, hills, and steps. My advice is to stick to these four pairs of shoes that are easy to style in many different ways. You will need a pair of white low-top sneakers, a pair of ballet flats, a pair of boots, and a pair of closed-toe kitten heels for your nights out. 

In the evening, you will find that long dresses, blouses, light jackets, and elegant skirts are most appropriate for a pleasant dinner in the Italian city you are exploring. Thin scarves, big leather handbags, sunglasses, and delicate jewelry are some of the locals’ favorite ways to accessorize their day and evening attire. In terms of jewelry, the more vintage, the better!

Summer Fashion

If you are looking for a dreamy summer getaway that involves wearing romantic maxi dresses, spending hours by the Mediterranean sea and eating gelato after every meal, Italy is the place for you. Everything will suddenly feel like you’re living in your very own fairytale, from Venice to Rome, and down to the Amalfi Coast. However, before you run to your computer to purchase your tickets, there are a few things to keep in mind. Italy is one of the busiest and most expensive countries to visit during the months of June, July, and August. Summers are also generally very hot. Throughout these months, you can expect temperatures averaging around 75°F depending on the region. For instance, in parts of northern Italy the temperature ranges from 65-85°F (18-30°C), in parts of central Italy temperatures range from 65-90°F (18-32°C), while southern Italy has shown temperatures ranging from 75-90°F (24-32°C). 

Northern Italy

When you are packing to travel to the northern regions of Italy that include Milan, Venice, or Bologna, you will notice that most locals are dressed in elegant breezy clothing. This is due to the fact that northern Italy is far more humid compared to the central and southern regions. 

As a tourist, you want to be able to balance both fashion and comfort. The term “chic” is what will guide you toward looking your best for any occasion day or night. To achieve this, try styling wide-leg thin cream pants paired with an oversized neutral tank top. Accessorize with a thin black belt, black sunglasses, and a vintage shoulder bag. For shoes, you can choose to wear ballet flats, strappy sandals, or classic all-black/white sneakers. 

Central Italy

If you are traveling to Rome or Florence, you want your clothing to reflect the artistic ambiance these central cities are known for. Visiting museums, churches, and historic attractions are some of the ways you will enjoy your time here. The key to staying cool and looking your best is to wear a variation of maxi dresses, skirts, and jumpsuits. You should stick to solid colors, light satin material and dainty jewelry for elevated looks.

In terms of visiting Vatican City’s most famous churches, it is important to remember the dress code: All shoulders and knees must be covered before entering. My tip for you is to keep a scarf in your purse that you will be able to drape over your shoulders. You can also wear maxi dresses or maxi skirts on these days to avoid any issues with bare knees.

Southern Italy 

As you prepare to stroll along the shores of the Amalfi coast, it is important to know that fashion expectation in southern Italy is a lot more relaxed compared to the northern and central regions. The ambiance is calm and collective with a splash of limoncello here and there. Local Italians are dressed in shorts, sandals, and breezy white shirts. And whether it is in the form of shirts, pants, or shorts, linen is sure to be the main focus in all your outfits. Linen is highly breathable which makes it the perfect material for any occasion by the water. 

With that being said, you are also vacationing in the summer so make sure to pack as much color as possible. Styling a bright orange dress with a beautiful straw hat, sunglasses and unique strappy sandals will blend perfectly with the picturesque mediterranean sea. 

Fall Fashion

When it comes to packing for a fall trip to Italy, the months of September, October, and November are one of the most exciting yet confusing times for fashion enthusiasts. Temperatures can range from 55-80°F in September, 45-74°F in October, and 35-65°F in November. The weather during the fall can be unpredictable and you will probably be changing outfits just as fast as the weather changes around here. To avoid this, here are a few outfit ideas for each month in fall. 

September 

More than half of this month is filled with sunshine and humidity. You may actually be able to reuse some of your summer clothes for the first 3 weeks. Wearing maxi skirts and dresses with sneakers is completely appropriate.

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 By the end of September, you may need to cover up with a light cardigan. For the remaining days of this month, a basic white tee and straight-leg jeans styled with a trench coat, ballet flats, and a cross-body bag will be your go-to outfit. It is both temperatures neutral and fashionable for exploring, browsing through clothing stores, and enjoying afternoon lunches with friends.

October 

The cold breezes and rainfall will begin to appear on the first few days of October. Thick sweaters, warm boots, and big scarfs will finally be making their appearance outside your closet. Try styling gray trousers, with a basic black long sleeve, a leather jacket, boots and a big chunky scarf. You may find yourself spending these days admiring various paintings by Michelangelo or indulging in a plate of warm homemade pasta overlooking Italy’s most beautiful architecture. 

November

As the temperatures begin to drastically drop, November gives us a preview of what is to be expected for the winter. Layering long sleeves tops, sweaters, and coats are essential for staying warm and fashionable. Styling a cashmere dress with sheer tights, knee-high boots, a scarf, a coat, and a chic shoulder bag will definitely achieve that balance. After a long day of exploring, this outfit is perfect for enjoying a delicious dinner followed by a romantic stroll under the stars.

Winter Fashion

Although winter is the coldest time of the year, Italy has become a hidden gem for tourists looking to spend their holidays surrounded by Christmas markets, snow-covered mountains, and affordable prices. You can expect winter temperatures to average in the 40s F and 50s F with plenty of rain and an occasional snowfall. To avoid overflowing luggage with heavy jackets and sweaters, here is a list of essential clothing items you will need for your winter excursion to Italy.

Winter Clothing Essentials

  • Cropped puffer jacket – Solid colored turtlenecks
  • Sweaters – Blazers
  • Basic tees – Trousers
  • Denim jeans – Knee-high boots 
  • Sneakers – A Black skirt
  • Sheer black tights – Leg warmers
  • Big chunky scarves – Hats/berets 
  • Gloves 

Italian locals also live by this list of essentials. You will notice that most women emulate an effortless yet stylistic aura when they are dressing for the winter. Even in the cold, you can manage to recreate fashion-forward outfits with just a few tips. 

Tips for Styling Winter Outfits 

Incorporating some pops of color into your winter wardrobe will add a sense of individuality compared to the basic neutral combinations we are used to seeing. To achieve this look, try incorporating a solid black or white outfit layered with a bright blue or deep green jacket. If color is not your cup of tea, sticking to monochromatic neutral outfits is also very popular amongst the locals. Faux fur jackets and accessories are the best way to elevate any outfit. Pairing a turtle neck dress, sheer tights, knee-high boots, and a faux fur jacket is sure to make a statement on any occasion. Accessorize with berets, colorful chunky scarves, and unique knitted pieces. Invest in a pair of well-fitted leather gloves that are both stylish and functional. You can find some of the highest quality leather in Italy so take advantage of it. Finally, keep a lookout for houndstooth and plaid patterned jackets and skirts. These patterns are the ideal choice for your winter extravaganza. 

Whether you plan to visit in the spring, summer, fall, or winter, I hope this article has given you a better perspective on the local Italian dress code. Remember that at the end of the day fashion is defined as a form of self-expression, so wear what you want…just not in Italy.

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How To: Dress in Italy as a Tourist In this post, we're going to explore how to dress as a tourist in Italy, taking advantage of the seasons and location! Enjoy!
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