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Your Rome Dress Code Questions Answered

Your Rome Dress Code Questions Answered

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

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FAQS About the Rome Dress Code

Vatican Dress Code
Vatican Dress Code

Is there a dress code in Rome?

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

For instance, all churches in Italy have a dress code whether you are visiting the Pantheon in Rome or heading to Church elsewhere in the country.

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 strictly enforced.

Generally speaking the following areas should always be covered when visiting the Vatican or a church in Rome

  • Shoulders 
  • Knees. 

Therefore when putting together your Rome 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 places such as the Colosseum and the Forum where there are lots of cobbles and uneven walkways.

However you will find that the Italians are a stylish bunch and therefore there are some things that you will not see on the streets of Rome which we will explain below.

Can I wear shorts in Rome? 

You can wear shorts in Rome 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.

If you are selecting shorts to wear in Rome 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 Rome 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 Roman restaurants.

Also it is worth noting that is really won’t be warm enough outside of the summer months in Rome (i.e. June, July and August) to wear shorts for sightseeing.

And shorts really aren’t appropriate attire for dinner in Rome.

Can I wear crop tops in Rome?

Crop tops are really not something you will see being worn in Rome by local women. And they definitely would not be appropriate to wear in churches.

Generally speaking I would save the crop top in Rome for 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 Rome?

Can you wear ripped jeans in Rome?

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

Firstly, ripped jeans are commonly seen being worn by Romans. Although jeans will be seen on the streets of Rome especially for those visiting Rome in Winter, 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 Rome?

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

However this is simply not the case and sneakers are my go to shoe for Rome whatever the season. The Reason for this is that they can cope with the large amounts of walking you will be doing in Rome and for the uneven terrain in places such as the Colosseum and Forum.

Can I wear flip flops in Rome? 

You can wear flip flops in Rome, 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 Rome.

Do people wear leggings in Rome?

You will find that many tourists wear leggings in Rome however they are not commonly worn by Romans, unless they are actually doing sports.

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 Rome?

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

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

Do I need swimwear for Rome?

Swimwear is definitely an optional for your Rome packing list and many people will not require swimwear.

Unless you are visiting Rome in summer and plan on visiting a beach or are staying in Rome accommodation with a pool then it is not necessary to pack swimwear.

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 Rome

Vatican Dress Code - can you wear jeans to the Vatican
Vatican Dress Code – can you wear jeans to the Vatican

When you are looking for how to dress for Rome, 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 Rome as a year round warm destination this is in fact not true. And Rome experiences four seasons.

For this reason we advise checking out our monthly what to wear in Rome guides to help you put together your Rome 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 Rome 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 Rome Packing List

On top of the above the following items should be added to your Rome Packing List.

  • 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 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