what to wear in Rome Italy or maybe what not to wear?

friends at cafe Rome ItalyFriends at a cafe

What to wear in Rome Italy? You may ask why you need to know. Well you don't really if you are comfortable standing out as a tourist and comfort is paramount for you. Here are some tips for everyone else.

Jump to a quick summery

Fashion is serious business for Romans

We in North America will never look as stylish as an Italian. It doesn't matter how hard we try. But if you don't want to look frumpy; it might be worth your while, to pay a little attention to what you pack in your suitcase. As a traveler to Rome, you will want to dress sensibly but nicely. What to wear in Rome Italy will be your chance to have a bit of fun with style.

Italians and especially Romans wear clothes that fit perfectly.

Women wear mostly dresses or skirts with heels or sandals. It seems as though the women fix their hair just to go to the store.

Young Romans have started to wear shorts in the summer but not usually short shorts. They wear colour. They wear nice jeans in cooler weather.

For business

They wear traditional suits dresses and knee length skirts pumps and hose.

Men will wear long pants and a polo or a button shirt to go into the better restaurants and they also keep their hair neat. You will see many men wearing nice leather shoulder bags and women carry the latest in fashion purses.

casual clothes at Sunday flea market Romecasual dress-Sunday flea market Rome

For what to wear in Rome Italy start with your basic travel wardrobe. Check out what the current "in" color is or wait until you get there and buy something to go with what you own. It doesn't have to be designer expensive if that is not in your budget. A top or scarf will do.

Summery: for the traveler what to wear in Rome Italy

  • Shorts are not good dresses are
  • Nice black jeans cut well are o.k. especially in the cooler weather but are much too hot in the summer. Capri’s are o.k.
  • Hat for the sun or rain
  • Good compact umbrella
  • Lots of sunscreen
  • Carry a small purse for evening.
  • A nice purse or tote is better in the day making sure it has a zippered top. You will not stand out as much as a tourist and you can carry your camera water bottle and things that you will need. (lots of fountains to refill your bottle) As in any big city it is better not to use a fanny pack etc as you will stand out to the many pick pockets. This is especially true for the subway or express.
  • A nice little cooler lunch bag for your snacks or Tupperware (restaurants around sites are expensive)
  • If you are going on to places like Pompeii then you’re hiking boots and shorts will definitely come in handy.
  • If you are planning on getting out of the city for awhile to go to a beach then you will probably want to take shorts and a bathing suit . If swimming in a public pool you will need a bathing cap. There is also some topless and nude bathing not far from the city if you are so inclined. (Yes in Italy!)
  • Sunglasses are a must! Dark and glare free.
  • light jacket or sweater in evening as sometimes it can be cool even if it is warm in the day.


Scully Classic Leather Jacket (Tan) Women's Jacket
ECCO Shape M 35 Ankle Boot (Black) Women's  Boots
Prana Halle Pant (Black) Women's Casual Pants
Social Occasions by Mon Cheri - 119823 Embellished Knee Length Dress

Things have changed somewhat for what to wear in Rome Italy church attire, but it is still pretty conservative. If you are going to visit the churches for the art you have to be respectful of the worshipers.

  • Do not wear sleeveless tops, shorts that do not cover the knees or show your bear midriff. You will not be able to get into St Peters. The guards will enforce this rule. Capri pants will work. Or better yet a light cotton dress. Calf length is better but definitely covers the knee.
  •  A long sleeve is actually better protection from the sun but if you wear a tank top it's o.k. just put a light cotton blouse on before you go into a church. Churches tend to be cooler anyway.

baby boomer women

What to wear in Rome Italy that is very nice for the baby boomer women is gauzy tops and dresses with sleeves are very cool in the hot sun and will get you into the churches.

men also note:

  • Khaki or black long pants and black or brown shoes are best especially for the better Rome restaurants or the opera. 
  • Linen or cotton shirts, polo shirts for restaurants
  • Men a jacket with lots of pockets to carry your camera and stuff will work in the evening
  • Men need to cover their knees in churches also.

the weather in Rome

Rome has a nice Mediterranean climate, but you will still need to pay attention to the season for what to wear in Rome Italy.

In Sept and April, it can rain for hours so take a good umbrella. In the fall and winter, it can be windy, and your umbrella will be useless as it will turn inside out. A rain jacket and even a hat or hood will come in handy.

I have been caught in the rain coming down so hard that only a full plastic poncho would work. They don't look so great and spell tourist but if you carry one of those fold in a pouch kind and just wear it when it pours. Take it off right after it stops raining, it's a lot better than letting yourself be wet for the rest of the day.

In winter, long sweater coats are nice, scarves of course and nice high leather boots and leather gloves.

It is very hot and humid in August and some shops and restaurants have no a/c Romans tend to leave the city on vacation. A good tip would be to take a nap after lunch and go back out at 4 pm.

you will probably do more walking than in most cities

You definitely will need comfortable walking shoes.

For what to wear in Rome Italy be extra careful not to wear leather soles as they will be very slippery on cobbles and granite so real rubber is much better. You will need lots of support so your heel is stable. By evening, your feet will probably hurt so much after seeing the attractions in Rome, that you will not want to wear a high heel anyway, so why waste the space in your suitcase. The cobbles and the granite especially in some of the alleyways are very ruff.

The metro does have stops at the Coliseum in Rome the Vatican and the Termini, and the bus service is great, but a lot of what you will want to see will have you on your feet. You will be walking to most sites.

Some young Italians do wear coloured runners like a Hogan, Geox or Puma Shoes at Zappos.com

It's best to wear black or brown Men's Dress Lace-Up Shoes into good restaurants instead of runners.

Shop Zappos: Rockport DresSports Luxe Men's Collection Now Available!
shop above Spanish steps Rome Italyshop above the Spanish steps-Rome

Rome is an ultra modern city and they have everything you may need so if you pack light and forget something don't fret just go shopping in Rome. All around the Spanish steps there is a high concentration of luxury designer clothing, probably more than anywhere in the world but it can be expensive.

It is not really worth wasting your time to go to the malls though if you will only be there for a short vacation. Why not just enjoy all the little boutiques while site seeing or even while at termini station.

Like any other place, it is totally up to you what to wear in Rome Italy. I am offering these suggestions for people like me that would like to fit in a bit and show respect for the culture and habits of the place that I am visiting.

North Americans can be found all over Rome wearing what they feel is most comfortable to them.

Remember as the saying goes "when in Rome do as the Romans do"

Italians will give better treatment for those who dress well.


The Life In Rome site offers you many wonderful pages about the Eternal City. You will get an overview that will quickly get you acquainted with the city. Also, ideas and advice for sightseeing, shopping and restaurant tips, suggestions for great entertainment, unique insider tips to make the most out of your stay in Rome Italy.

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