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What to wear to dinner in Italy

What to wear to dinner in Italy

Experiencing a dinner in Italy has to be top of any Italian bucket list but what to wear to dinner in Italy? In this guide we will round up the expected Italian dress code for dinner, what not to wear and other guidance on what to wear in Italy in the evening. 

Note: unlike what not to wear in Dubai or what not to wear in Abu Dhabi there isn’t a strict dress code for what to wear to dinner in Italy. However if you want to be respectful and not look out out of place the following things should be considered

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What do you wear to an Italian dinner – the difference between an osteria, trattoria and ristorante

When you are thinking “What do you wear to an Italian dinner” the first thing you need to check is if you are visiting an osteria or a ristorante. 

An osteria is a more casual eatery in Italy. Therefore what to wear to dinner in Italy in an osteria will have a more casual dress code. 

A ristorante on the other hand is a much more formal restaurant and therefore will have a more formal dress code required. 

A trattoria on the other hand is a more local and seasonal restaurant and sits between the two in my opinion. 

What to wear to dinner in Italy – basic rules

What to wear to dinner in Italy

As a general rule of thumb on what to wear to dinner in Italy is that Italians will tend to dress for dinner and will dress up more than their British or American counterparts. 

But it is worth noting that Italy is a large country. As each of the areas and regions of Italy will have its own cuisine they will also have their own dress code rules. 

Without overly generalizing you can expect that 

  • Milan and the North – this tends to be the most fashion forward area of Italy and as such they may dress up for dinner than in other regions. 
  • What to wear to dinner in Rome- As Rome is a busy  the dress code of Rome restaurants tends to be more smart casual than other regions of Italy. Be sure to check out our what not to wear in Rome guide for more information. 
  • Puglia and the coastal regions of Italy – as with any beacher places I would say there will be more casual in their dress codes that other places. However if you are going to a ristorante or out for a fancier meal the dress code will obviously more formal. 
  • Venice – Venice is definitely a city that is affected by the weather especially the wind and rain. Italians in Venice will tend to dress for the weather in Venice for dinner however this doesn’t mean they will be any less stylish or smart. 

Other things that affect what you wear for dinner in Italy

On top of the region you are traveling to, the biggest thing that will affect what you wear for dinner in Italy is obviously the weather. The summer in Italy is hot hot hot but the winters can get very cold so be sure to dress for the weather no matter what time of year you are visiting Italy. 

Additionally it is worth noting that in cities such as Rome where space is of a premium many restaurants’ tables will spill out into the streets. In fact my favorite places to eat dinner in Italy are in restaurants with piazza tables where you can watch the world go by. 

Al fresco dining is big in Italy so you will definitely want some layers in case it gets chilly if you are having an Al Fresco dinner in ITaly. 

What not to wear to Dinner in Italy

Although not strictly enforced I would say there is a definite Italian dress code. As such I have put together the following what not to wear guides

And this obviously affects what to wear for dinner in Italy. However the headline of what not to wear for dinner in Italy can be summed up as

  • Flip flops – these aren’t good for walking in any Italian city with their cobble stones and uneven streets. 
  • Beachwear – In Italy Beachwear is reserved for the beach. Even if you are in one of the beach resorts in places like Puglia it would be considered rude to wear your swimwear to a restaurant. More casual clothes at beach restaurants is fine but it shouldn’t be swimwear.

What to Wear to dinner in Italy for Women

A Flowy Dress

Obviously is depends on the season on what type of dress you wear and how many layers you need but a dress is perfect attire for a dinner in Italy. 

A maxi dress in summer would be perfect but if you are going to somewhere very fancy a LBD (a little black dress) would be perfect also. 

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Skirt and Blouse

If dresses aren’t your thing don’t panic. Dresses are not a prerequisite for what to wear to dinner in Italy. If skirts and blouses are more your thing then instead pick a nice skirt of any ;length with a pretty blouse to match. 

Trousers / Pants

Trousers are also fine for women for dinner in Italy. I personally wouldn’t recommend jeans as people do tend to change for dinner and go for something more smart casual than casual. 

I always like a pair of black pants or tailor trousers that can be paired with a blouse. 

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Shoes

High heels are a no no and are definitely on my what not to wear in Italy list. However if you want to add some height for an evening outfit I recommend pairing your outfit with a nice pair of wedges that won’t get caught in the cobbles. 

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Fabric choice

I personally would not advise you to wear anything man made for dinner in Italy. It can still be hot in Italy in the evening in summer and something breathable is the best choice. 

Linen and cotton are firm fabric favorites in Italy but you could add lace or a bit of glitz for an evening outfit in Italy.

Pashmina

My number one travel accessory in Italy no matter the time of year you are visiting is a Pashmina. 

They are great as they can be an extra cover if you are visiting a church in Italy and aren’t dressed conservatively enough and are great for day to night transitions.

But more importantly if you are having an al fresco dining experience in Italy it is an added extra layer if you get a bit cold while dining outdoors. 

Shop Pashminas here

Top Layer

If you are visiting Italy in Autumn or Winter then you will defintiely want extra layers for your look as it can get cold. Be sure to have a dressy cardigan or a blazer with you when dining in Italy outside of Summer. 

What to Wear to dinner in Italy for Men

In my opinion you can never really be overdressed for dinner in Italy even for men. 

Jacket and Tie

IN this spirit it would be perfectly acceptably for a man to wear a jacket and tie to dinner. 

If you are visiting in Summer a linen jacket would be most appropriate but in winter go for a thicker fabric such as tweed. 

Shirt

Shirts are big in the male Italian wardrobe. Short or long sleeves, either would be acceptable for men eating dinner in Italy

T SHirts

MEn in Italy don’t tend to weather t shirts so much for dinner especially bright colored and highly graphic ones. 

If you want to wear a t shirt in Italy I recommend sticking to monochrome or dark colors with no graphics or even better a polo shirt which is a good midway point between a t shirt and a shirt. 

Trousers / pants

You won’t tend to see men in Italy wearing shorts to dinner. If you are a man looking for what to wear in Italy for dinner your best bet is going to tailored chinos or at worst a very dark pair of tailored jeans. 

Leather shoes

Men in Italy tend to wear nice shoes. I would recommend picking a pair of leather shoes for dinner in Italy but be sure not to pair them with white socks. The horror. 

FAQs on what to wear to dinner in Italy

Can you wear jeans to dinner in Italy?

In answer to can you wear jeans to dinner in Italy I would say it really depends on the type of restaurant. You may be able to get away with it in an Osteria but I would try and avoid jeans personally when thinking about what to wear to dinner in Italy. 

Italians change for dinner so it would be good to have something smart casual for your dinner rather than overly casual jeans.

What do you wear in Italy in the evening?

If you are wondering what do you wear in Italy in the evening I would consider where it is you are eating i.e. an osteria, a trattoria or a ristorante. 

On top of that however it is worth noting that many places will do al fresco dining even in the piazzas of cities like Rome. Therefore be sure you ahve enough layers and won’t get chilly when dining outside. 

What is your favorite thing to wear to dinner in Italy? Leave us a comment

What’s Next?

Are you traveling round the rest of Europe? Why not check out our other city dinner guides

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