Updated: Dec 15, 2018
We know that Rome is not considered one of the fashion capital’s in the world, that title is strictly for Milan, but since it’s also a major city in Italy it’s fashion capital adjacent. Which means that yes, Romans are stylish and the way you dress here is important.
The first thing I noticed when I came to Italy, was that no matter where you go everyone looks put together. I’m talking nice shoes, brushed hair, well-fitting clothes. The effort to look your best is apparent here. Which means, and I’m speaking directly to Americans here, your sweatpants, messy bun, and oversized t-shirts are not going to fly.
If you think about it, it makes sense. This is the land of Gucci, Prada, and Dolce & Gabbana. Why would anyone want to look less than their best when there is a wealth of beautiful designer clothes, genuine leather products, and local shops that house some of the best quality clothing in the world?
On top of that, Italians stare, a lot. Every moment they are judging you. Do your shoes look nice, what type of hairstyle do you have, does your coat look expensive? I’m not saying you should care what they think, but I want you to consider what kind of stare would you rather receive? A ‘hey, they look good’ stare or a ‘look at what that ugly tourist is wearing’ stare? I’ve been on the opposite of both, I choose the first stare.
Truth be told, Italians have great style but it’s classic and traditional. So you’re not going to see the bold looks that you would see in New York, or London. They just don’t experiment with clothing that way, which coming from NY this does break my heart a bit.
By the way, this is my way of saying that if you just don’t give a f*** about Italian style, than do you!
But I would also suggest making some effort to blend in because there are still some benefits to flying under the radar, like not making yourself obvious to people who target tourists.
With that, here are a few things to consider when figuring out what to wear in Rome.
For men the best path is to keep it simple, a fitted pair of pants or jeans and a fitted shirt will have you looking like an Italian in 10 minutes, or however long it takes for you to get dressed. Basketball shorts, cargo pants, and baseball caps just scream tourist. If you go this route, keep your bag close my friend.
Also keep in mind that if you’re going out to a disco, some places will have a dress code. You’re best bet is to head out in a dress shirt to ensure you’re not turned away at the door.
For shoes, keep it classy. Sneakers are ok, but stay away from the nikes you take to the gym. A fashion sneaker is a better choice and for heaven’s sake, keep away from the flip flops!
For my ladies, the women in Italy dress pretty feminine and slightly conservative. You’ll see a fair amount of dresses, skirts, and heels around the city. If this isn’t your style, don’t feel pressured to dress this way but you may also want to embrace that type off femininity while you’re in Rome.
Similar to the men, clothes that fit, and compliment your shape are always a great option. Also, note that in the summertime, you’ll rarely seen an Italian woman wearing short shorts. Not saying it doesn’t happen but giving you a heads up that you will stand out. However, Rome is hot as sin in July and if walking around naked was legal, I’d do it.
Last, I’ll say it for the women just like I said it for the men. NO FLIP FLOPS EVER! They’re ugly (my opinion), they are terrible for your feet, and guaranteed you’re feet will turn black if you spend a full day walking around the city in them.
Final note. If you are visiting a church, which I’m sure a good majority of you will be… for God’s sake ladies, cover your shoulders and your legs! However, if you’re unprepared there will be gentlemen selling scarves just outside the entrance so you can cover yourself.
Men same deal, we wouldn’t want a scandal in the church.