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What not to wear in Italy

What not to wear in Italy

Wondering what not to wear in Italy? Worried about fitting in amongst all the stylish Italian locals? In this guide we will round up what not to wear to Italy, no matter the region you are traveling to so you won’t look like a tourist and provide the best alternatives to things that may normally be in your travel wardrobe. 

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How do people dress in Italy?

In answer to how do people dress in Italy I have to say it varies. Like any of the European countries there isn’t a hard and fast dress code but some things are more commonplace than others. 

Italy, is obviously one of the fashion capitals of the world, especially in the cities such as Rome and Milan. And I would say whenever I have been in these cities they are quite stylish.

Overall I wouldn’t say that many Italian cities are particularly casual places. I would define Italian city dress codes as more smart casual so bear that in mind if you won’t want to look like a tourist in the Italian cities.

However obviously if you are on a beach or walking in the mountains in Italy you will find that people are dressed for the activity they are doing.

What Not to Wear in Italy

Excited young woman with arms raised in Milan Cathedral Square, Italy

High Heels and Stilettos

Italy is a beautiful country and one that many people will explore on foot. As there are many ancient cities it is worth mentioning that heels and stilettos in the city aren’t really appropriate. That is because these cities are full of cobblestones, bridges and uneven streets and piazzas. High heels and stilettos are just a danger on these. 

High heels can easily get caught in the cobbles and someone can easily get injured. 

My advice is to leave the high heels and stilettos at home however if you must take them keep them to use in nice restaurants only and be sure to have an alternative pair of shoes with you for walking. 

And if you do want to take shoes with a bit of height I would definitely recommend taking a pair of wedges in place of sttilettos. 

Shop wedges here

Flip Flops 

As  I said above Italy is a country that is great to explore on foot. But to do this you will need the right type of shoes, and flip flops really aren’t these unless you are spending time on an Italian beach in places such as the Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre.

Flip flops offer no arch support and if you are visiting cities such as Rome or Venice on a rainy day they will offer no protection against slippery marble. 

Be sure to leave flip flops at home unless you are spending time on a beach and instead wear a pair of sneakers which you will see all around the Eternal City.

Shop smart sneakers here.

Baseball Caps

Although if you are visiting Italy in the Summer you will need a hat because of the heat and for added sun protection we would stay clear of baseball caps. 

Italians do not tend to wear baseball caps. These are reserved for the tourist. 

Instead pick a more stylish hat to protect you from the sun and to help you look less like a tourist in Italy.

White Socks and Shoes 

Italian are a stylish bunch, even the men. There is no way a local Italian would ever wear white socks and shoes.

It would never happen and there is nothing that will make you look more like a tourist. 

Instead switch out those white socks for sneaker socks or wear sandals without a sock. 

Shorts (But Only in Certain Places)

There are rumours that shorts are a big no no in Italy. This however is entirely not true.

 In the cities locals will usually only wear shorts when sightseeing i.e. not to restaurants or work.And the shorts they wear are more likely to the tailored type rather than short shorts.

So if you want to look like a local be cognisant of the type of shorts you pack for Rome and other cities i.e. go for tailored, slim fit shorts rather than short ones or cargo shorts.

Click here to shop tailored shorts

However do not wear them if you are planning to visit the Vatican or Italian Churches. Churches in Italy (such as the Pantheon and Duomo for instance) and the Vatican have a very strict dress code which is enforced. Shorts are part of this dress code. 

On days you are visiting these chose linen pants, flowly skirts and things that cover your knees instead. 

However if you are on a beach in Puglia, or on the Amalfi Coast or an island such as Sicily or Sardinia, or at an archaeological site such as Pompeii then you will see lots of shorts.

Short Skirts (But Only in Certain Places) 

What Not to wear in Rome

Again by all means wear a short skirt but do not do it if you are visiting religious sites in Rome like churches or the Vatican

It is not respectful and you will not be allowed in. 

Sleeveless Tops but only in certain places. 

Vatican Dress Code

Not to sound like a broken record but you need a shirt with sleeves if you are visiting Italian churches or the Vaticans. 

Tops with no sleeves for both men and women are not allowed in places of worship in Rome and you will be refused entry.

Tight Fitting Clothes

Very tight clothes are again something that just isn’t usually seen on the streets in Italy, particularly in the cities. If you want to look like a Italian I would advise not having skin tight outfits. 

University Hoodies

Hoodies with university names on them scream I am a tourist. Or at best I am a foreign exchange student. Leave any attire with your Alma Mata on at home when you visit Italy. 

Synthetic Fabrics in Summer

If you are visiting Italy in the summer, whether you are in the north, south or on an island be sure to avoid synthetic fabrics.

Italy in summer gets HOT HOT HOT, particularly the further South you go. You don’t want to make yourself sweat more than you have to in synthetic fabrics.

Instead opt for light and breathable fabrics such as loose linen trousers and beautiful cotton tops. 

An Open Bag / Fanny Bag 

As with any tourist place around the world, pickpockets can be a problem in Italy. There are two ways of mitigating your risk of being targeted by pickpockets. 

One way is to not look like a tourist. The other way is to have bags that protect your belongings. 

Therefore we recommend

1)    Not wearing a fanny pack in Italy. Italians would never use this so you will be just highlighting yourself as a tourist. 

2)    Using a cross body bag with plenty of zips to make a pickpockets job more difficult. 

Click here to shop anti-theft cross body purses.

FAQs About what Not to wear in Italy

What to wear in Italy for dinner 

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

Food is a very integral part to any trip to Italy so you may be wondering what to wear for dinner in Italy. I would say that evenings in Italy tend to be slightly more smart with most people opting for a smart casual attire for eating out than say sneakers and jeans but for more information on what to wear to dinner in Italy check out this post.

Can I wear shorts in Italy

Can I wear shorts in Italy? I don’t know why but the internet has generated many rumours that you can not wear shorts in Italy but this is absolutely not true. You can wear shorts in Italy. 

Now it is true that Italian women don’t immediately grab the shorts on a hot day but that doesn’t mean it isn’t allowed.

However where Italian wear shorts is normally reserved. You don’t see many Italian wearing shorts to work or to a nice restaurant but at tourist attractions and sightseeing shorts are fine to wear. However there is a caveat.

If you are going to churches in Italian or to the Vatican be aware there is a dress code. 

The Vatican dress code is enforced so don’t be caught out. Shorts, mini skirts and sleeveless tops will not be allowed in the Vatican so on days you plan to visit religious sites be sure to dress appropriately. This rule also applies in other Italian churches.

Is it OK to wear leggings in Italy?

Yes during the day you can certainly wear leggings in Italy but you won’t tend to see these in restaurants in Italy at night.

It is also worth noting that it is uncommon to see sportswear at tourist attractions and restaurants. Most I

Is it OK to wear crop tops in Italy?

Crop tops are certainly fine on the beaches and islands of Italy but you won’t tend to see people wearing crop tops in Italian cities.

Is it okay to wear sneakers in Italy?

Another rumour on the internet is that sneakers are not ok to wear but this is not true. You absolutely can wear sneakers in Italy and will see people wearing them whenether in the cities, up a mountain or in a beach town.

In fact I would say that sneakers are an essential item for your Italy packing list wherever you are traveling.

Can I wear flip flops in Italy?

You can definitely wear flip flops in Italy but this is not something I recommend in cities. Pesoanlly I would only bring flip flops if you plan to spend time on the beach.

Do you have to cover your shoulders in Italy?

Your Dress Code for Churches in Italy Questions Answered - Duomo Dress Code
Your Dress Code for Churches in Italy Questions Answered – Duomo Dress Code

No on a normal day you do not have to cover your shoulders in Italy however if you plan to go into a church or a religious site then you absolutely must cover your shoulders.

Have you been to Italy? What would you add to the what not to wear in Italy guide? What would you leave at home next time