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Your Italy Dress Code Questions Answered

Your Italy Dress Code Questions Answered

We often get asked questions about what the Italy Dress Code is and how not to look like a tourist in Italy. In this guide we aim to demystify the rules over what to wear to Italy by asking your most frequently asked Italy outfit questions and giving you some outfit inspiration. 

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FAQS About the Italy Dress Code

Do you have questions about the Italy dress code? While there are some regional differences between what to wear in the cities such as Rome, Venice and Naples compared to the beach destinations such as Puglia and the Amalfi Coast and Islands such as Sicily and Sardinia.

Is there a dress code in Italy?

There is not a Italy dress code per se. However there are some places where dress codes are enforced.

What Not to Wear in Venice / What to Wear in Venice in April
What Not to Wear in Venice / What to Wear in Venice in April

For instance, all churches in Italy have a dress code whether you are visiting the Pantheon in Rome, Duomo in Florence or St Marks in Venice.

dress code for visiting churches in italy - dress code for churches in Rome
dress code for visiting churches in italy – dress code for churches in Rome

And of course the Vatican has a dress code which is very strictly enforced.

Generally speaking the following areas should always be covered when visiting any church in Italy:

  • Shoulders 
  • Knees. 

Therefore when putting together your Italy Outfit for churches your should avoid wearing 

  • Sleeveless Tops this is applicable to both men and women
  • Mini Skirts
  • Shorts

This dress code is strictly enforced and you may not be granted entry should your outfit not meet the rules. It is also worth noting that the Church Dress Code applies to both men and women

On top of the churches, you will want to be sure you are wearing appropriate footwear in the more ancient places that you will be visiting in Italy such as the Colosseum and the Forum in Rome, Pompeii near Naples and the amphitheatre in Taormina Sicily where there are lots of cobbles and uneven walkways.

On top of that beaches in Italy will have a very different dress code to cities which we will covered below.

couple on beach in sardinia in summer
What to wear in Sardinia

But before we get onto your questions I also wanted to stress that you will find that the Italians are a stylish bunch, even when casual.

Can I wear shorts in Italy?

Woman at Pompeii - what to wear to Pompeii
what to wear to Pompeii

Yes you can absolutely wear shorts in Italy if you want to however you will find these are more commonly seen being worn by tourists instead of locals who are going to the office etc when you are in an Italian city.

If you are selecting shorts to wear in a city in Italy I would select smarter shorts such as tailored shorts for men instead of cargo shorts. But women will wear a mixture of cotton shorts and denim shorts.

Generally speaking you don’t see many short short on the streets of Italy and I personally prefer looser shorts for summer as these are more comfortable in the heat.

However if you want to visit churches then you will not be able to wear shorts as these do not cover your leg enough.

And it is not common to see shorts being worn by either men or women in Italian restaurants.

However outside of the cities, shorts are more commonly worn by locals and tourists particularly at tourist sites such as Pompeii and other Roman sights.

Woman overlooking Italian beach
Italy dress code questions answered

Shorts are also commonly seen on beaches in Italy.

Therefore in answer to can you wear shorts in Italy is it really depends on where you are and what activity you will be doing.

Can I wear crop tops in Italy?

Crop tops are really not something you will see being worn in the cities in italy by local women. And they definitely would not be appropriate to wear in churches. IN fact you would be turned away from churches like the Vatican where dress codes are enforced.

Generally speaking however you may see crop tops when you are hitting the beach in places such as the Amalfi Coast, Puglia and the islands such as Sardinia, Sicily and Capri.

Do you have to cover your shoulders in Italy?

Woman in Piazza del plebiscito square Naples Italy
What to wear in Naples Italy

The answer to do you have to cover your shoulders in Italy is yes and no.

If you plan to visit a church in Italy you absolutely have to keep your shoulders covered. You will not be permitted entry to some churches with bare shoulders. For this reason I always carry a pashmina with me in Italy for these occasions.

However outside of churches and particularly on the beaches in Italy you will see lots of bare shoulders which are perfectly acceptable.

Can you wear ripped jeans in Italy?

You can definitely wear ripped jeans in Italy but there are a few provisos.

Firstly, ripped jeans are not commonly seen being worn by Italian.

Although jeans will be seen on the streets of Italy especially for those visiting in Winter and in more casual cities such as Naples, the jeans that are worn by Italians tend to be slim fit and of a darker color.

Also if you plan to visit a church then ripped jeans that show your thigh would not be acceptable and you would get turned away from the Vatican while wearing these.

Can I wear sneakers in Italy?

There is a rumor on the internet that sneakers, or runners, as they are sometimes called are not appropriate footwear in Italy.

However this is simply not the case and sneakers are my go to shoe for Italy whatever the season.

The Reason for this is that they can cope with the large amounts of walking you will be doing in Italy and for the uneven terrain in places such as at archaeological sites and in the mountains

Can I wear flip flops in Italy? 

Woman sat on wall overlooking Amalfi Coast
What to wear on the Amalfi Coast

You can wear flip flops in Italy, there are no rules against it however I would strongly advise you not too.

Flip flops offer very little arch support and aren’t great to wear on the uneven surfaces of Italy.

Therefore I would keep the flip flops for wearing round by pools and on the beach, particularly on rocky beaches in places such as Capri.

Do people wear leggings in Italy?

You will find that many tourists wear leggings in Italy however they are not commonly worn by Italians, unless they are actually doing sports such as running.

Therefore if you want to look more like a local then I would recommend leaving the leggings at home. However if you feel comfortable in leggings and aren’t trying to fit in with local styles then by all means wear leggings.

What do you wear at night in Italy?

What to wear to dinner in Italy / what to wear to dinner in Rome
What to wear to dinner in Italy / what to wear to dinner in Rome

Although Italy isn’t a very formal place, you will find that most restaurants in Italy will adopt a smart casual dress code.

For more information on what to wear in Italy for dinner check out this post.

We would normally however avoid shorts and sneakers at restaurants in Italy and opt for dresses and either sandals and boots for women depending on the city and chinos and shirts, either long and short sleeved, for men in Italy.

Do I need swimwear for Italy?

Couple wearing swimwear on beach in Sardinia
What to wear in SArdinia in Summer and on the beach

Swimwear is definitely an optional for your Italy packing list depending on where you are visiting. If you are in an Italian city chances are you won’t require swimwear unless you have accommodation with a pool. But if you are visiting a coastal city or beach resort such as Positano for instance then swimwear is an absolute essential if you are visiting in Summer.

However if you are planning on visiting the South coast or an island, then a piece of swimwear is an absolute must.

How to dress for Italy

When you are looking for how to dress for Italy, we advise taking all of the above advice into consideration but also thinking about how to dress for the weather.

Despite many people thinking of Italy as a year round warm destination this is in fact not true. And many places in Italy experiences four seasons.

For this reason we advise checking out our monthly what to wear in Italy guides to help you put together your Italian Capsule Wardrobe:

Generally speaking I would advise packing trousers / jeans along with t shirts and blouses for winter alongside coats and blazers.

However in summer I recommend sticking to Maxi dresses and skirts, with shoulders covered for days when you are planning to visit churches.

And a pashmina is an essential whatever time of year you are visiting Italy as it works as a great extra cover for churches and for when you feel chilly when dining al fresco.

And sunglasses are a must whatever season you visit as some of the cities can be quite dazzling in Rome.

What Else to Add to Your Italy Packing List

On top of the above the following items should be added to your Italy Packing List whatever season you are traveling in.

  • Crossbody bag – one with plenty of zips that can put off pick pockets is best. You can get pickpockets anywhere around tourist attractions so having a bag that deters pickpockets is best.
  • Water bottle – One of my favourite things about cities in italy such as Rome is the free water fountains around the city so be sure to make use of them. 
  • Sunscreen 
  • Toiletries
  • Medication
  • Travel First Aid Kit
  • Blister plasters 
  • Camera 
  • Travel Adaptor
  • Power Pack / Battery recharger

Are you traveling to Italy? Is there a question you have we haven’t answered? Then please leave us a comment below and we will do our best to answer.