Home expat life Things People Always Ask Me About Italy: What To Wear?

Things People Always Ask Me About Italy: What To Wear?

written by M.E. Evans February 21, 2013

I don’t need to say this because everyone already knows that fashion is incredibly important in Italy. I’ve noticed that Italian Fashion gives a lot of tourists noticable anxiety and whenever my friends or family come to visit they always send me at least one email asking, “What should I wear!?”

Your approach to fashion here will obviously depend on whether or not you want to outwardly display your nationality, or you want to blend in. Almost always, style is what tells everyone that you’re American (or foreign in general). It’s not the blonde hair or the blue eyes, it’s the patterned, purple floral dress that you’re rocking in April with your flip flops. Seriously.

Italian style varies depending on where you are, and a person’s particular style, though there are always some similarities. We’ll start with Florence because that’s where I live. First thing, get rid of all of your bright, bright colors. Don’t bring your floral dresses, your bright pink tank tops, or your bright purple sweaters unless your goals is to stand out immediately. Muted colors, natural colors, win in Florence. In the summer you’ll see a lot of Olive green, gray, and tan mixed with skinny jeans, and in the winter you won’t see anything but black, brown and gray (more or less). There is not a huge difference in age, people both twenty-five and fifty wear similar things. For example, my husbands mom is almost sixty and when she goes out she often wears skinny black slacks, high heeled ankle boots, a blouse, scarf, and peacoat. All black. In the night she’ll often wear a skin-tight cleavage showing, knee-length dress, high heels, and a little jacket to cover her arms.

Also, hugely in style is anything that is, “un po’ particolare,” which means a little particular. A sweater with buttons running up the side, an asymetrical shirt, anything that is “particular” or “a little strange” is often good. Badly fitting jeans, a t-shirt, and running shoes are never stylish, not even if you’re sixty.

And remember, layers, layers, layers, even in the summer, and make sure your bag matches your shoes. Yes, I’m serious. Yes, people do pay attention to that. I don’t know why. Stop yelling at me!

A  casual summer outfit for a woman in 20’s and 30’s might look like this: 


Short shorts, slouchy boots, oversized blouse, sweater, scarf, big sunglasses.


Light denim skinny jeans, white sneakers (or leather sandals), long, flowy shirt, scarf, huge sunglasses.

Notice how no skin is showing, I'm not wearing any bright colors, and I appear to be high.

Notice how no skin is showing, I’m not wearing any bright colors, and I appear to be high.

People do not wear flip flops unless they are at a pool. They do not go bare armed or legged until June/July (wear tights under your shorts and with dresses). You also won’t see women wearing tight tank tops and booty shorts. Even in the middle of summer, people often cover their arms (including men), with a cardigan, or light jacket.


Tight skinny jeans, high heels (always, ALWAYS bring a pair of ballet flats with you in your purse), stylish blouse. If you hate heels you can wear a stylish flat shoe that is not a running shoe. I know that we Americans love our comfortable running shoes but leave them at home next to your treadmill.

Summer For Men:

Leave your basketball attire at home, you don’t need to be “prepared” for sports here. Leave your jerseys and your basketball shorts, and basketball shoes, actually, you know what? Burn that shit. Go shopping, and buy yourself something that says, “sexy 007 agent,” then, pack some fitted t-shirts, a cardigan, a scarf, and jeans that do not fall off of your ass. Bring some loafers and converse which are always fashionable here in the summer, or any other stylish sneaker that is not a running shoe. p.s. I fucking hate white running shoes on everyone. Even on old people.  They make your feet look massive and for some reason remind me of moon excursions or dentistry.

Winter For Men:

Bring a shirt with a collar, a v-neck sweater to go over it, and slacks for dinner. In the day, fitted jeans that do not fall off of your ass, a sweater (not a sweatshirt), scarf, and a black coat. Suede shoes, black boots, or dress shoes are worn both day and night. Yes, I’m serious.

If you are a visual person and you want more ideas you can visit some examples here: Awesome clothes I pinned on pinterest. 

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