How to Dress in Italy: Fashion vs. Geography

how to dress in italy

One need not have traveled to Italy to be aware that it has a particular shape: that of a boot. This unique form allows for much variety in geography, climate and natural beauty. Informally, Italy is divided into 3 main regions: north, center and south. And although the Italian climate is largely mild and temperate, there can be some major differences between the regions.  The mountainous and northern regions can experience long, cold winters and are often foggy and damp. The center is milder and the Mediterranean south can be warm and sunny even in the winter. Despite these climatic differences, however, there is one common thread that unites all the regions of Italy: fashion.

Italy is universally recognized as one of the most stylish and fashion-forward countries in the world. Just take moment to think about the most famous designers you know. If you are anything like me, your mind probably traveled to Italy to find big names such as Gucci, Prada, Armani and Dolce & Gabbana. And if you really stop and think about it, what better country to be a world style leader than one shaped as a boot? Italy is literally a symbol of fashion. But how to dress stylishly for a country so obsessed with fashion yet so diverse in its regions and climate?

Here are a few region-specific tips to use as a guide for your trip to Italy this fall.

How to Dress in Italy: Fashion vs. Geography

How to dress in the North

For those of you who are going to a destination like Milan, Lake Como or Venice. Autumn temperatures in the north usually fall in the upper 40s and 50s degrees Fahrenheit (that’s 4-10 degrees Celsius). Do be sure to…

  • Bring warm layers like scarves, sweaters, vests and a rain jacket or trench coat
  • Don’t forget to carry an umbrella for the sometimes rainy and foggy weather

How to Dress in the Center

If you are going to a destination such as Florence, Perugia or Rome. Fall temperatures in the center tend to be in the 50s degrees Fahrenheit or 10 degrees Celsius. Prepare for mild, chillier mornings and evenings, but warm sunny days.

  • Remember to wear layers, such as cardigans, scarves and a trench coat would be ideal, and can be easily removed in the midday sun

How to Dress in the South

For those of you going to Naples, the Amalfi Coast or Sicily, the southern region of Italy’s temperature usually stays in the upper 50s and 60 degrees Fahrenheit (10-15 degrees Celsius). This does not mean, however, that you should dress as if it were summer!

  • Stick to neutral tones such as black, white, grey, beige, blue, tan and other earth tones
  • Bright colors and pastels are reserved for summer only

Regardless of what region you are traveling to, there are a few rules of thumb for dressing in Italy. Pay attention to the quality of the fabric of your clothes, choosing natural materials such as wool, silk, cashmere, cotton and leather. Wear good quality shoes, preferably leather. Don’t wear sandals when it’s cool and absolutely no flip-flops! Also, as a rule of thumb in Italy, white socks are for sports wear only.

Dress for each occasion, as different events usually call for different attire. If you are unsure what to wear, always go the more formal route as it can sometimes shows a lack of respect when one does not care enough to dress properly for the event. Italians appreciate people who are well dressed and give them more respect and attention. Style and elegance are translated by the overall picture, and not by a specific piece of clothing, such as a tie.

Remember: a polite manner is always the best accessory. True style is combination of all aspects: good quality clothes, personal grooming, behavior and great manners all come together to make “la bella figura,” or the good impression.


Have you ever been to Italy during fall? 




7 thoughts on “How to Dress in Italy: Fashion vs. Geography

  1. Great tips, especially if one does want to fit in and feel like a local. My husband and I will be heading to Italy (travelling to Center and South regions) in mid September up to end of that month, is this time considered as ‘Fall’ season already? Thanks again and loved all your articles and tips about Italy.

    • Hi Kathleen! You are very welcome :)
      I am in Italy at the moment and I must say the weather has been really crazy lately. I was in Emilia Romagna last week and we had days at 35° (95°F) and others at 19° (66°F)!
      I would consider mid September “fall” season already but since you are headed to Center and South regions it might be warmer. My suggestion is to check the forecasting one week before your departure and to “vestirsi a cipolla.” Check out this blog to find out this Italian Fall dressing technique :)
      Buone vacanze!

  2. We will be traveling first to Lake Como, then on to Cinque Terra , Florence, Bologna and Milan, leaving USA on Oct. 1for 16 days. Is the temperature at the lakes really 50 degrees during the day that early in the fall?? Trying to pack for the chilly casual Lakes and Cinque Terra and then for big city chic of Florence, Bologna and Milan has me befuddled. Are jeans acceptable for boating at the lakes and the coast?

    • Yes jeans are very acceptable. You can dress them up with smart shirt and jacket or dress them down depending on the occasion. Nicely cut jeans are a must though! Not any old baggy shapeless things!

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