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What Not to Wear in Rome

What Not to Wear in Rome

Wondering what not to wear in Rome? Worried about fitting in amongst all the stylish Italian locals? In this guide we will round up what not to wear to Rome so you won’t look like a tourist and provide the best alternatives to things that may normally be in your travel wardrobe. 

Important Note: This post may contain affiliate links which means if you click through and make a purchase I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

How do people dress in Rome?

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

Rome has a reputation as a fashionable and stylish city and I found this to be completely true when we visited. 

Overall I wouldn’t say Rome in a particularly casual city, I would define it more as smart casual so bear that in mind if you won’t want to look like a tourist in Rome. 

Evenings 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.

Similarly to what not to wear in Paris, I would say that sportswear is usually reserved for doing sports in Rome and you want see much athleisure wear on a day to day basis. 

Note: Wondering what to wear in Rome at a particular time of year – check out our monthly what to wear guides

What Not to Wear in Rome

Travel in Rome. Fashion beautiful tourist girl goes down the Spanish Steps famous landmark of Rome. Summer holidays in Italy.

High Heels and Stilettos

Rome is a city that is best seen on foot. It is also an ancient city that is full of cobblestones 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 stilettos. 

Shop wedges here

Flip Flops 

As  I said above Rome is a city you are best exploring by foot. Flip flops offer no arch support and if you are visiting Rome on a rainy day they will offer no protection against slippery marble. For more information on visiting Rome in rainy months such as what to wear in Rome in April check out this post.

Be sure to leave these at home 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 Rome in the Summer you will need a hat because of the heat. That is unavoidable if you are visiting Rome in August. 

However Romans 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 Rome 

White Socks and Shoes 

Romans are a stylish bunch, even the men. There is no way a local Roman 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 Rome. This is entirely not true.

 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 cognissant of the type of shorts you pack for Rome i.e. go for tailored, slim fit shorts rather than short ones or cargo shorts. 

However do not wear them if you are planning to visit the Vatican or Roman Churches. Churches in Rome 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. 

Click here to shop tailored shorts

Short Skirts (But Only in Certain Places)

Tourism in Italy. Back view of young tourist woman walks along Via della Conciliazione street in Rome with St Peter Basilica and crowd of tourists on the background.

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. 

Sleeves Tops but only in certain places. 

Not to sound like a broken record but you need a shirt with sleeves if you are visiting Roman 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 sually seen on the streets of Rome. If you want to look like a Roman I would advise not having skin tight outfits. 

This is also best if you are visiting Rome in July as you will want flowy clothes for the hot weather. 

University Hoodies

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

Synthetic Fabrics in Summer

If you are visiting Rome in the summer be sure to avoid synthetic fabrics. Rome in summer gets HOT HOT HOT. 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. 

As with any tourist capital, pickpockets can be a problem in Rome. 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. 

An Open Bag / Fanny Bag

Therefore we recommend

1)    Not wearing a fanny pack in Rome. 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. 

Our preferred bag for Rome is the following. 

Click here to shop anti-theft cross body purses.

FAQs About what Not to wear in Rome

Can I wear shorts in Rome

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

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

Summertime is the only season in Rome were shorts are worn by locals as other times the weather is too cold. 

However where Romans wear shorts is normally reserved. You don’t see many Romans 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.

However if you are going to churches in Rome 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.

Can I wear flip flops in Rome?

You can definitely wear flip flops in Rome but this is not something I recommend. The streets are cobled and Rome is best seen via foot.

Flip flops offer no arch support so these are best left at home in favour of better shoes. 

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