Sicilian style, Capri chic, and refined Rome; Italian fashion is among the best in the world. If you are looking to elevate your own style, how about taking some tips from Italian women who exude a sense of la moda?
Italian style is quite unmistakable, helped along, no doubt, by Italy’s rich design history. This is a country where brands such as Gucci, Mui Mui, Versace, Armani and Dolce & Gabbana have grown up and flourished.
It’s a country which gave birth to some of the most legendary style icons in the world. Think about Sophia Loren, Monica Bellucci and Isabella Rossellini.
Italians take great pride in the way they look and dress. While Londoners are famed for eclectic style and French women are noted for their elegance, Italian women are renowned for a bombshell way of dressing.
They somehow manage to look sexy and elegant, yet relaxed and easygoing all at the same time.
But, their impossibly chic style doesn’t have to be impossible to achieve. Let’s break down Italian style so you can incorporate some of the same elements into your own everyday looks.
Scroll down and you’ll also find a capsule wardrobe so you can get even more inspiration on how to put together your outfits, just like the chicest Italian women.
1. Start with the right underwear
Italian women tend to prefer quite form-fitting looks. It’s unusual to see loose garments, for example, on the streets of Rome.
So, just like the Roman Colosseum, it’s important to get the structure of your look right first when thinking about how to emulate Italian style.
Plus, it’s not all about making your body look good with the right undergarments, it’s about making you feel good. Hands up who doesn’t feel better about themselves if they’re wearing beautiful matching underwear?
You could try one of the sets below, or choose shapewear if you feel it would help with a confidence boost.
TC Cooling High Waist Thigh Slimmer
DOBREVA Lace Push Up Sheer Balconette
ITAYAX Silk Lace Seamless Panties
2. Think quality over quantity
You won’t find as many of the pile ’em high, sell ’em cheap kind of stores in Italy. The Italians love quality clothes. But when it comes to Italian fashion, you don’t have to go for high fashion.
But, do look for pieces which are well-made, and which won’t fall apart after a few wears. There are plenty of outlet stores in Italy as, if shopping on a budget, Italians would rather opt for timeless pieces which are well constructed rather than going for fast fashion, trendy pieces which won’t last.
Suzie @suzie.richetti above opts for leather pants and a classic blazer.
Steal her look with this similar top, tweed jacket, leather pants and pumps.
Cinq à Sept Taylee Silk Satin Blouse
3. Be body confident
I’m generalizing here, I know. But, Italian women tend to be proud of being womanly. They like to show their curves. Embrace yours!
Think about which parts of your body you are happy with and show those off, whether you have a great pair of legs, a lovely hourglass figure or a curvaceous bust.
While you may not have a Dolce & Gabbana budget, think about the Italian fashion designer’s silhouettes when it comes to dressing. They love to show off a woman’s figure rather than using very thin models on their runways.
4. Invest in good quality basics in natural materials
An Italian closet tends to be built around pieces which will last for years and years, and perhaps be handed down to your daughter or granddaughter.
It’s a big no-no to buy something which will last only one season.
Instead, look for pieces which will transcend seasons, in natural materials such as silk, linen, cotton and cashmere. Invest in basics like crisp white shirts and tailored pants.
Also, take a look at my wardrobe essentials
5. Don’t expose too much flesh
I know you probably won’t want to be wearing hot pants anyway, but Italian women would rather show off their curves than their skin. So, while you will see plenty of form-fitting pencil skirts and dresses, you won’t see many teeny shorts or tiny vest tops.
Even though Italian women like to show the form of their bodies, they never show too much. That’s why they look classy at all times, rather than vulgar.
6. show off your waist
Italian women generally embrace their curves and like to show off their silhouette. Try a belted dress for summer.
Patricia @madamechicbcn (read her style interview here) matches the belt on her summer dress to her shoes and accessories for a style that manages to look elegant and carefree at the same time.
Check out these dresses from PAIGE, Lucky Brand, Madewell and Lavish Alice that you can wear with these similar sandals, handbag, belt, sunglasses and headband.
Vince Belted Square Neck Midi Dress
7. Think about fit when it comes to italian fashion
Looking stylish doesn’t have to be complicated in Italy. If you find something which fits you like a glove, you will automatically feel more confident. A great fitting pair of jeans worn with a white shirt and a slick of red lipstick can look fabulous.
8. Look after your clothes
Italian women see the pieces in their closet as an investment, and look after their clothing accordingly. If you have missing buttons, broken zips or torn seams, either fix them, or take them to a seamstress to do it for you. Nothing less than impeccable will do.
9. A little bit of glitz goes a long way
Choose one standout piece if you’re adding some shine to your outfit, whether it’s a sequin skirt, a silver jacket or a pair of chandelier earrings, and let your hero piece do the talking.
What Italian women do well is to build their outfit around one piece. So, if you are wearing a sequin or tassel skirt, for example, team it with a white shirt.
AOMEI Fringe Tiered Pencil Midi Skirt
10. Wear heels
Italian women tend to find heels more flattering than flats.
If you aren’t keen on adding too many inches to your shoes and, let’s face it, who fancies wearing heels 24-7, you could always opt for a kitten heel, which gives the same kind of look without the same discomfort.
Somehow, Italian women manage to walk confidently in heels, even on cobblestones.
Wendy @fashionoverfifty.wendy above opts for a pair of neutral mules.
Get her look with this similar top, skirt, mules, belt, tote and sunglasses.
11. Wear it now!
Don’t save the pieces you love for a special occasion. Make every day a special occasion. That’s why Italian women always look for flawless – because the best pieces in their closet aren’t squirreled away in the back of their wardrobe. They are wearing them!
12. Keep your look streamlined
Italian fashion isn’t about too much layering. It is about choosing a hero piece and wearing it well. So, your outfit may simply consist of a great dress and heels, or a wide-legged pair of pants with a blouse. If you have a brightly colored coat, you could keep the rest of your outfit neutral.
A sleeveless trench coat like the Karen Millen coat (below) could help to keep your look streamlined even when it’s not warm enough for a full coat.
Karen Millen Luxe Tailored Sleeveless Trench Belted Coat – PrettySoul Printed Blouse – Eileen Fisher High Waist Wide Leg Pants – Marc Fisher LTD Jarli Bootie – Salvatore Ferragamo Mini Amy Leather Tote – MTMY Hoop Earrings
13. Invest in a long, sleek coat
Rita @ritapalazzi above (read her style interview here) chooses a timeless trench that will be on trend year after year.
Check out this similar top (another option here), coat, pants (another option here), booties, handbag and earrings.
Karen Millen Compact Stretch Contrast Belted Coat
14. Don’t forget your handbag
Italian craftsmanship is among the best in the world, so it’s no wonder that Italian women always carry a timeless handbag. Opt for a stylish leather tote and slip it over the crook of your elbow.
Salvatore Ferragamo Mini Amy Leather Tote
15. Be inspired by Italian designers
Prada – Giorgio Armani – Versace
Even if you don’t have a Versace budget, you can still take note of the trends on display on the catwalk shows of Italian designers and then shop the high street or your own closet.
16. Invest in a beautiful beach cover-up
Even when they are on the beach or beside the pool, Italian women don’t like to look pared down. Opt for a classic one-piece swimsuit and pair it with a stylish cover-up.
Not only do you look more glamorous, but you can also hide any parts of your body you aren’t so confident about. The beach cover-up below comes in a huge choice of colors and has more than 22,000 reviews. Women who have worn it say it’s lightweight, soft and the fabric feels better than expected.
17. Don’t forget your sunglasses
The final touch of any Italian woman’s look is a pair of sunglasses, no matter what the season. For an authentic Italian look, you could opt for an Italian brand such as Prada, Gucci or Armani.
Wear them whether the sun is in or out; the bigger the better.
Susanne @textelle above (read her style interview here) looks lovely in her blue skirt and her stylish sunglasses.
Recreate her outfit with this similar tee, skirt, sandals, clutch and sunglasses.
Prada 54mm Oval Cat Eye Sunglasses
18. Have a manicure
Italian dressing is often in the detail. Make sure your look is finished from your fingernails to your toenails. Treat yourself to a pedicure in the summer months.
DIOR Vernis Gel Shine & Long Wear Nail Lacquer
Italian style capsule
Now let’s look at some clothes, shoes and accessories you could choose – and how to put them together.
Italian style tops
Urban CoCo Open Front Blazer – Careste Madison Sleeveless Silk Top – rag & bone Simone Slim Ankle Pants – Steve Madden Feather Loafer Flat –
For your tops, think about classy, subtle glamour. Choose drapes, twists and luxurious fabrics like satin and silk.
Cinq á Sept Andrea Sleeveless Top – Vince Flutter Sleeve Drape Silk Top – Careste Madison Sleeveless Silk Top – Cinq á Sept Mckenna Knot Waist Shirt
coats and jackets
Karen Millen Italian Wool Belted Cape Coat – Vince Flutter Sleeve Drape Silk Top – Karen Millen Compact Stretch Split Hem Flare Pants – Clarks Illeana Tulip Pump – COACH Gallery Tote – Sterling Forever Ezra Chain Necklace
The coats and jackets you choose are important to putting together a chic Italian look. Choose long, dramatic styles as well as classic blazer or tuxedo jackets, and capes.
Urban CoCo Open Front Blazer – Cinq á Sept Khloe Ruched Sleeve Blazer – Karen Millen Italian Wool Belted Cape Coat – Karen Millen Logo Jacquard Belt Trench Coat
jeans and pants
Cinq á Sept Khloe Ruched Sleeve Blazer – Cinq á Sept Andrea Sleeveless Top – Cinq á Sept Maisie Embellished High Waist Wide Leg Denim Pants – Putu Braided Kitten Heels – COACH Gallery Tote – Givenchy 4G Logo Silk Scarf
While Italian women love their glamorous dresses, they also love the drama of wide leg pants.
Cinq á Sept Maisie Embellished High Waist Wide Leg Denim Pants – rag & bone Simone Slim Ankle Pants – Karen Millen Compact Stretch Split Hem Flare Pants – Karen Millen Leather Crop Kick Flare Pants
dresses and skirts
Karen Millen Logo Jacquard Belt Trench Coat – Cinq á Sept Jacey Tie Waist Silk Shirtdress – Clarks Illeana Tulip Pump – Saint Laurent Monogram Quilted Zip Pouch – Bony Levy Katharine 14K Gold Twisted Hoop Earrings – Sterling Forever Ezra Chain Necklace
Moving onto dresses and skirts, Italian women are unlikely to choose shift styles that don’t show off their figure. Instead, look for belts and waist-cinching styles as well as asymmetry. You could add drama with your skirt. But, if you do choose a statement skirt, keep the rest of your look relatively simple – perhaps with a white shirt and gold jewelry.
Vince Belted Square Neck Midi Dress – Cinq á Sept Jacey Tie Waist Silk Shirtdress – River Island Wrap Blazer Dress – AOMEI Fringe Tiered Midi Skirt
shoes and boots
River Island Wrap Blazer Dress – rag & bone Simone Slim Ankle Pants – Sam Edelman Sulema Suede Knee-High Boot – Saint Laurent Monogram Quilted Zip Pouch – Bony Levy Katharine 14K Gold Twisted Hoop Earrings
For your shoes and boots, a pair of heels will always add glamour. But, while Italian women do love their heels, if you prefer a lower style, you can either opt for smaller heels, or choose a pair of pointed flats.
Steve Madden Feather Loafer Flat – Putu Braided Kitten Heels – Clarks Illeana Tulip Pump – Sam Edelman Sulema Suede Knee-High Boot
Karen Millen Logo Jacquard Belt Trench Coat – Cinq á Sept Mckenna Knot Waist Shirt – Karen Millen Compact Stretch Split Hem Flare Pants – Steve Madden Feather Loafer Flat – COACH Gallery Tote – Prada 53mm Butterfly Sunglasses – Achillea Pashmina Scarf
Don’t forget your accessories to finish off your Italian style outfits. Choose classic, timeless, quality handbags that you can use year after year. Also, look out for stylish silk scarves, gold jewelry, and big sunglasses.
COACH Gallery Tote – STAUD Bean Leather Clutch – Saint Laurent Monogram Quilted Zip Pouch – Bony Levy Katharine 14K Gold Twisted Hoop Earrings – Sterling Forever Ezra Chain Necklace – Prada 53mm Butterfly Sunglasses – Givenchy 4G Logo Silk Scarf – Achillea Pashmina Scarf
Your Italian style outfits together in one capsule
Below, you can see the clothes, shoes and accessories from above put together in one capsule. Do you have a favorite outfit?
shop SOME OF THE items above here:
What do you think about Italian style? Which country, apart from your own, of course, do you think has the most stylish women in the world?
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- A Capsule Wardrobe For The Classic Style Personality
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Feature image by Rita @ritapalazzi
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If you can’t wear anything other than flat shoes then wedges are your friend. I too have a back problem but many wedge style shoes have a flat base inside and it is almost like wearing flats with a thick sole and gives you much more choice in footwear.
Sylvia, I love this capsule—viva Italia! Style, substance, and fun.
That’s it! I loved a lot from different styles you present in your blog, but no one speaks to me soul like this one. I am looking forward to see staple wardrobe in Italian way.
I love the Italian style!
I am a Brit living in Holland.
During a visit to Rome, I fell in love with the look – it was lunchtime and
I was amazed at the super, simple elegance of the people.
Simple, chique style and colors, quality you could spot a mile away!
Matching shoes and bag. Sunglasses, shiny hair.
Since then, I try my best!
On my first trip to Rome 10 years ago, I was amazed by how many well-dressed middle-aged women there were. They looked so well-groomed and self-assured, I’ve been interested in Italian style ever since. I don’t like tight-fitting clothes, but I can adopt other points mentioned here, like wearing my best clothes more often, choosing a hero piece for an outfit and highlighting the curves I like. I also love Rita Palazzi’s style – what about a Rita Palazzi/Italian style capsule wardrobe article some time?
That’s a great idea!
I liked this article; it had some really good tips that aren’t difficult to follow. I agree about better quality clothes that should not only last longer, but may fit better as well. Unfortunately, I see a lot of synthetic clothing that may be expensive, but may not hold up very well, or feel very comfortable in the long run. I think there is this thought about having a lot of clothes. However we probably only wear a fraction of what we actually have. To B.Richards, your comment to Marilyn was really unkind. She is retired and why can’t she be interested in fashion. Better to not comment at all if you can’t be nice.
I spent three months in Florence Italy last year, some things I noticed: women wore more dresses, and skirts, than I see in California. Women seemed ok being women, not sure how to explain that… They seemed to like natural fibers more. They seemed to like classic style more than trends. I saw more wedges, than heels.
No matter what our size, shape, weight we can be fashionable in a way that is appropriate with our lifestyle. I agree that Italian women seem to be very fashionable. Never compared the style of the different countries, but find your thoughts very informative and fun to think about. Loved your photos and thoughts posted here.
Italian is not my style. I’m a 72 yr old retired priest and I want to look nice but not be a standout in a group of people. I’m a ‘soft’ summer color-wise so things are okay in that area; it’s shape that bothers me. At 5’1″ and 177 lbs. clothes that are designed for the tall and slim just aren’t right. Also, no heels because of a back injury. And, oh, I’m a cancer survivor who had a left mastectomy which leaves a bit of a problem with some jewelry. Any help is appreciated.
If Italian is not your style, why are you reading this article and as a PRIEST, I do not think it would be appropriate to even care about any type of fashion other than what’s appropriate for your 24/7 position and representation. If you can’t wear heels because of a back injury, then there you go, flats it is. Wear what you feel comfortable in. How can having a mastectomy leave a problem with jewelry?
B RICHARDS, now that you are retired you have the opportunity to think about fashion and how you can adapt it to suit you and your body shape. I am retired and carry more weight than I should. And I’m limited to flat shoes. I find these challenges limiting, but find I can still dress with style. I look at it as a challenge and love it when I get unsolicited compliments.
I think the Italian women are the best dressed women in the world. Almost all design and style of all things in Italy is just so good. Love that country.
I very much agree with your article.