Fashion and Function: What To Wear in Rome To Pass as a Local

Wondering what to wear in Rome, Italy? You’re in the right place.

I studied in Rome for nearly 5 months as an undergraduate and am here to help with all your Rome packing list needs.

How To Dress like an Italian: What To Wear in Rome

McDonald's in Italy

Italy is pretty much the fashion capital of the universe. Armani, Prada, Versace? All Italian.

Riding the metro is like attending the debut of one of these iconic brands’ new clothing lines. So what’s a visitor to do? If you’re wondering what to wear in Rome on your vacation, these are the essentials. I haven’t included things in this Rome packing list like “extra underwear” or “contact lense solution.” We all know to bring those along. These suggestions are just Rome-specific.

What to wear in Rome: A dark pair of jeans

Italian women are the masters of dark hues. Since traveling abroad is all about embracing a new culture, you’ll want to bring a dark pair of jeans to fit in with the local fashionistas. Rocking your regular baby blue jeans will make you stick out like a sore thumb…a sore foreign thumb.

Here are a few to add to your Rome packing list: 

Staying warm in Italy: A blazer + jean jacket

The blazer is an essential part of the Italian wardrobe, so if you don’t have one yet, make sure to nab one during your preparations. A versatile accessory, it’s perfect for dashing from an art museum to a night out in Florence or from cabs to the catwalk in Milan.

Here are a few to try when thinking about what to wear in Rome: 

See also:

Best shoes for cobblestones: a few pairs of cute flats + walking shoes

Cobblestones are serious business.

While Italian women have mastered the art of walking on them in stilettos, you won’t want to risk it yourself. You should invest in a few pairs of cute flats for light walking days and a good pair of walking shoes for the days you really feel like exploring. You can bring flip-flops or sandals for the shower, but don’t wear them outside unless you want to get funny looks.

Here are a few of the best shoes to walk on cobblestones: 

Bring these Roma essentials: a few sundresses

Sundresses are one of my favorites when deciding what to wear in Rome.

If it’s warmer out while you’re in Italy (which thankfully is most of the time), a sweet sundress will get you a long way! Just be sure to bring some sunscreen, as the warm Italian sun takes no prisoners. I got more burns than I care to admit during my semester abroad in Italy.

And, if you plan to visit Rome’s iconic churches, bring along a cardigan as well as your shoulders and knees must be covered to go inside. Think of it this way: to visit a church, you have to dress like you are ready to attend service.

Here are a few of my faves to add to your Rome packing list: 

Rome packing list: a “pickpocket-proof” purse  

Italy tends to be very safe when it comes to violent crime.

The only crime you might experience is the unfortunate, “Hey, where’d my wallet go?” if you’re not careful. To avoid this, you’ll want to bring a purse that’s hard for sticky fingers to get into. Typically, these purses have a large flap or locking zipper, but that doesn’t mean they have to look ugly.

Here are a few anti-theft purses try out:

What to wear in Rome: a floppy hat

Perfect for adorable Instagrams and keeping the warm Italian sun at bay, you won’t want to leave home without a floppy hat. No matter what time of year you visit Italy, these hats are always in fashion because when the cold comes to the Mediterranean, it never lasts for long.

I still love these things, no matter what the haters that say to leave them in 2018 will tell me.

Here are a few of the best hats for Italy try out:

What to buy in Rome: A blow dryer (buy when you’re there)

I never saw an Italian woman with wet hair! In fact, the one time I braved leaving my study abroad campus without completely finishing my blow dry, I was scolded by a nonna on the metro that I might catch my death. Just make sure to buy a cheap hair dryer when you arrive (if your hotel doesn’t provide one), as trying to get foreign ones to work in Italy is a setup for disaster.

We’ve all seen the movies. The thing is going to short-circuit, probably explode, and take down the entire block with it.

How to dress in Rome: compression shorts

These shorts are a lifesaver. When you spend hours wandering Italian alleyways in adorable sundresses, you’re going to chafe, but not with compression shorts. Simply slip them on under your clothes and they hold everything in place so you can enjoy your time in Italy to the fullest.

Best sunglasses for Rome: large and dark

Italy is the land of sunshine, so you’ll need to keep your eye protected. Bring a few pairs of larger, dark-tinted sunglasses to make your photos a little more glamorous and reduce the strain on your eyes.

Here are some of the best sunglasses for Italy: 


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1 Comment

  1. Kathleen
    January 15, 2022 / 6:53 AM

    Do you have any advice for traveling to Rome in March?

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