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Dress Code for Italy: 15 Things Tourists Should NOT Wear
Italians are famous for having good taste in fashion. In fact, they are considered the most stylish citizens in the world. Both men and women know exactly how to look well put together in every situation.
While Italy doesn’t have a formal dress code, you may want to leave a few items at home. No one will ever criticize you for the way you dress. But knowing what not to wear will help you fit in better with the locals and avoid making a bad impression. You don’t want to look like a tourist either.
In this article, I will share 15 clothing items not to wear in Italy. I asked people from Italy and other countries to create this list. I received 622 responses from two Facebook groups before writing this blog post.
As a rule of thumb, you should avoid wearing stuff out of context. This means that some items are okay to use in specific settings. But if you use them on other occasions, you might be seen as odd.
Unsurprisingly, the most mentioned item not to wear in Italy were flip-flops. Yes, I know that they are comfortable and versatile. I used them myself to walk the narrow sidewalks of the Apulia region. But Italians and other tourists don’t want to see your feet. This is especially true if you are a man (ouch!).
Another reason you shouldn’t wear flip-flops is for sidewalks. You could trip and fall if you don’t pay attention to where you step. This is because sidewalks in Italy are in such bad condition. Your flip-flops may also abandon you in the middle of the street.
Italians rarely wear Crocs in public. You may see kids and elders at the beach using them at most. Tourists are the only ones who walk around the city wearing Crocs and jeans.
Crocs are pretty popular in the United States. But Italians don’t seem to like them. You should only use Crocs at the beach or pool.
Now, a pair of classic sunglasses can help you level up your style. However, it is better to avoid those with weird shapes. For example, you will never see an Italian wearing heart-shaped sunglasses. You will be just okay if you are a teenager, though.
You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a pair of Italian-style sunglasses. Make sure to get yours for an affordable price by clicking on this link.
Mature men don’t usually wear Hawaiian shirts in Italy. However, it is more common to see young adults and teenagers wearing floral patterns. You will mostly see people wearing Hawaiian shirts at the beach, parties, or shopping malls.
So, at least in the city, you should avoid wearing Hawaiian shirts. You will look like a tourist visiting the Caribbean. Instead, stick with your classic shirts to avoid standing out from the crowd.
A cover-up showing off a lot of skin may be inappropriate in some places. This is especially true for churches and museums. For example, you can only visit Vatican City if you cover your shoulders and knees.
Wearing a jersey in Italy won’t help you fit better with the locals. Quite the opposite, you may get into serious trouble if you do so.
Italians are very competitive when it comes to football. In fact, they can turn out to be very aggressive if they see you with a particular jersey. For instance, wearing a Juventus jersey in Florence is unsafe. People may insult you or throw things at you.
What about wearing jerseys from other sports? Well, seeing people rocking a Lakers jersey in the city is unusual. Still, you will be fine wearing one at the park, sports events, and stadiums.
Instead, wear a neutral polo or shirt with little to no stamps.
3. Oversized Clothes
Italians prefer to wear clothes that fit their body well. They wear fitted clothes to show off their best features. So, if you want to dress like an Italian, avoid wearing loose pants or oversized shirts.
I’m right; you can still wear plus-sized clothes if you want to. Many Italians consider loose-fitting clothes stylish. But make sure to balance your outfit to avoid looking messy.
Tip: Pair oversized clothes with more fitted ones to match your body.
4. Baseball Caps
Baseball caps are not widely worn as a fashion accessory in Italy. Instead, they are mainly used for more practical purposes such as sports and outdoor activities. Very few people wear baseball caps indoors as they are considered too casual and unnecessary.
If you want to protect yourself from the sun, make sure to choose a neutral hat style. Avoid those with logos, stamps, or phrases like “Make America Great Again.” Otherwise, you could consider one of these options:
- Beret: A soft and round hat that covers the head and ears, suitable for both men and women.
- Fedora: A soft hat with a wide brim and creased crown typically associated with men’s fashion but also worn by women.
- Cloche: A bell-shaped hat with a close-fitting crown and wide brim that was popular in the 1920s and 1930s.
- Straw hat: A lightweight and breathable hat made from straw, commonly worn in the summer to protect from the sun.
- Basque beret: A soft, flat hat with a round top and flexible brim. It is a traditional hat from southern France and northern Spain but is also popular in Italy.
Wearing pajamas in public in Italy is not a good idea. Italians might think you’re not taking the situation seriously. Sometimes, it can be seen as disrespectful to the local culture and traditions.
It’s best not to wear pajamas in front of your family members, especially if you’ve just met them. While you don’t always have to dress elegantly, try to wear something nice and clean. In this way, you show them you’ve put effort into your outfit. You will also make a good impression.
6. Sock with Sandals
A big no-no for tourists in Italy is wearing socks with sandals. This fashion choice is generally viewed as unattractive and cringe-worthy by many Italians. Usually, you will see people from Germany and other countries in Northern Europe wearing this combination.
You don’t really need to wear socks with sandals in Italy. This is because the Mediterranean climate is warm enough to go without them. In fact, It’s common to see people wearing sandals alone in Italy, especially in the summer.
Wearing sandals without socks is also more practical. You can walk comfortably without worrying about sweaty or smelly feet, which can be an issue when you travel long distances.
Moreover, you can easily slip your sandals on and off, making exploring Italy’s beaches, historical centers, and cities more convenient.
What if you could get fined for wearing thongs in public? That’s what’s happening in places such as Sorrento and Lake Como. You could be charged for obscenity if you don’t cover your private areas. Those fines are pretty expensive and can cost up to €500.
If you want to wear a thong or a more revealing swimsuit, don’t worry. Some beaches are more flexible than others when it comes to dress codes. I recommend doing some research on the specific beach you plan to visit to avoid problems. Doing so will make you less likely to get judged or fined.
8. Pum Pum Shorts
It’s pretty common for young women to wear shorts in Italy. This is especially true during the summer when temperatures can get quite hot. They often pair shorts with a nice blouse or T-shirt and basic accessories.
While shorts are a common choice in Italy, some styles may only suit some occasions. Pum Pum shorts, for instance, might be seen as too revealing and draw unwanted attention.
Listen, I get it. Pum Pum shorts are all the rage these days. They’re cute trendy and show off those legs you’ve worked so hard on at the gym. But here’s the thing: those shorts might be more trouble in Italy than they’re worth.
Pum Pum shorts are just okay for a day on the beach, but not for wandering around a city or sightseeing. So, you may want to leave them at home and bring something more conservative.
9. Cargo Pants
Cargo pants are a popular style of pants with many pockets for storage. However, consider packing something else to plan a trip to Italy. While they might be efficient and convenient, you will surely stand out as a tourist.
Also, cargo pants may not be suitable for the climate in Italy. They can be too heavy and uncomfortable in the summer heat. Instead, you may want to wear shorts made of breathable fabrics such as cotton or linen. This will help you stay cool while exploring the cities and towns of Italy.
On top of that, cargo pants can take up valuable space in your luggage. Thus, you will have less room to bring souvenirs and other items back home. Say arrivederci to your bulky cargo pants and pick something more versatile.
10. Travel Backpacks
We all know that backpacks are quite handy when traveling. They are convenient for carrying your items and keep your hands free. But there may be better options than backpacks for most travelers.
You see, pickpocketing is a common issue in crowded areas. If you travel with a backpack, you will be an easy target for thieves. You will not be safe in stations, buses, and trains. Bags also take up a lot of space and are not great when you walk long distances.
Instead, consider using a cross-body bag or a small shoulder bag. You won’t have to worry about being pickpocketed or robbed. Plus, you will look like a local since most people carry these bags.
11. Fanny Packs
Fanny packs have been making a comeback in recent years. But still, do yourself a favor and leave them at home if you plan to travel to Italy. Sure, they might be handy for carrying your essentials. But you will look like a tourist stuck in the ’90s if you go around with one.
Like backpacks, fanny packs are not secure at all. It will be easy for pickpockets to steal your money and passport. Moreover, fanny packs can put too much pressure on your lower back or hips. This can be painful or uncomfortable for some people.
As I already said, your best bet would be to use a cross-body bag or a small shoulder bag. These options are much safer and will help you blend in with the Italians.
12. High Heels
Walking in Italy with high heels can be quite challenging and risky. In fact, sidewalks and streets in Italy are often in bad condition.
For instance, sidewalks in Rome are made of cobblestone. They may look pretty, but they can also be a nightmare for high heels. You might get stuck in the sidewalk cracks or bump into people.
Many other cities have similar issues, not just Rome.
Because of this, it’s best to wear comfortable and practical shoes. Some good alternatives are sneakers and flats, which offer more stability and support. You won’t have to worry about falling off when visiting ancient buildings or climbing hills. Plus, you can match sneakers and flats with more outfits.
13. Ratty Shoes
Ratty shoes are the worst thing you could ever pack for a trip to Italy. While you might be tempted to bring your old sneakers, you may want to think twice.
Firstly, ratty shoes are a big no-no for walking around Italy. They don’t offer good support and could leave you anytime. You will find yourself with sore feet and blisters, which can make it challenging to get around.
Moreover, wearing ratty shoes will make you stand out badly. You’ll give the impression that you don’t care about your appearance.
If you have old shoes, you could bring them to Italy and buy new ones there. By doing so, you’ll have more room in your suitcase. You can throw away or donate your old sneakers when you are ready to go home. This will help you leave Italy with a new pair of shoes and a lighter suitcase.
If you wear sportswear as your daily outfit, I have some bad news for you. While it might be typical in some parts of the world, it might not be appropriate in Italy.
Some examples of sportswear to avoid wearing in Italy are:
- Yoga pants or leggings
- Athletic shorts
- Sweatpants or track pants
- Tank tops or sports bras worn as a top
- Running shoes
- Tight-fitting tops and bottoms designed for exercise
You can always wear sportswear in the gym or even at the park. But when it comes to walking around the streets, you may opt for something else.
15. Flashy Clothes
Italians prefer a simple and minimalistic fashion style. Wearing flashy and over-the-top clothing can give off the impression that you seek attention. The only place you might see such clothing is at a disco or nightclub.
Wearing flashy and expensive clothing can also make you a target for thieves. Even though Italy is considered safe, some areas still have crime.
You may also draw the attention of street sellers. These vendors will try to sell you cheap souvenirs, counterfeit items, or roses. They are usually very annoying and persistent.
BONUS: Heavy Makeup
Italian women are not big fans of wearing heavy makeup. Instead, they prefer a more natural look closer to their skin color.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t wear any makeup at all. But consider keeping your makeup minimal and choose a more subtle look. For example, you could opt for a light foundation or tinted moisturizer, a slight blush, neutral eyeshadow shades, and a swipe of mascara.
Remember that less is often more regarding beauty and fashion in Italy.