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, Miu Miu, Versace, Giorgio 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.

What defines Italian style?

Italian style is instantly recognisable. Honed over centuries, it is classic, refined, it has sex appeal without showing everything, and it’s flattering for women over 40. Below you’ll find the elements of Italian style that you can emulate.

What is Italian chic style?

Sylia wears a monochrome outfit |

Italian style is renowned for being incredibly chic. Sylvia @sylviacolella above (read her style interview here) shows off a classic outfit that perfectly fits the Italian style ethos.

Recreate her outfit with this similar dress, jacket (another option here), pumps, handbag, earrings and sunglasses.

What is the Italian dress style called?

Sprezzatura is the best word to sum up Italian style – it means an effortless nonchalance. Italian women create beautiful outfits as if it is second nature.

How do you dress like a typical Italian?

Scroll down and you’ll 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.

Italian Fashion - Underwear |

MakeMeChic Lingerie Set

Commando Mini Cami Slip |

Commando Mini Cami Slip

Honeylove SuperPower Briefs |

Honeylove SuperPower Briefs

DOBREVA Lace Push Up Sheer Balconette |

DOBREVA Lace Push Up Sheer Balconette

Natori Bliss Allure Lace 3-Pack Girl Briefs |

Natori Bliss Allure Lace 3-Pack Girl Briefs

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.

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.

Look for clothes in quality fabrics like silk, satin, linen, cashmere and wool.

Cami NYC Liana Silk Ruffle Cami |

Cami NYC Liana Silk Ruffle Cami

3. Be body confident

We’re generalizing here, we 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.

Be Body Confident |

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.

Vince Oversize Crop Cotton Shirt |

Vince Oversize Crop Cotton Shirt

5. Don’t expose too much flesh

We 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. Or, wear a belted blazer. The TAHARI ASL suit (below) comes as a set. You could create different looks by wearing it as separates too.

Theory Belted Linen-Blend Midi-Dress |

Theory Belted Linen-Blend 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.

Italian fashion: How to style yourself like Italian women |

Rita @ritapalazzi above (read her style interview here) chooses a timeless trench that will be on trend year after year.

Get her look with this similar top (another option here), coat, pants, booties, handbag and earrings.

8. Invest in a long, sleek coat

Italian women often wear their form-fitting clothes with a long coat over the top. Look out for long trench styles or belted wool coats.

MANGO Maxi Lapel Manteco Wool Coat |

MANGO Maxi Lapel Manteco Wool Coat

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. Wear the gold pants (below) with a white shirt, blazer and pointed flats.

Retrofête Arista Pants |

Retrofête Arista Pants

10. Wear it now!

Don’t save the pieces you love for a special occasion. Make every day a special occasion. The best pieces in Italian women’s closets aren’t squirreled away in the back of their wardrobe. They are wearing them!

11. 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. Or choose pointed-toe flats.

Somehow, Italian women manage to walk confidently in heels, even on cobblestones.

Naturalizer Everly Pumps |

Naturalizer Everly Pumps

Suzie wears a blazer and slim pants  |

Suzie @suzie.richetti above combines neutral colors that are often found in Italian style.

Recreate her outfit with this similar top, blazer (another option here), pants, pumps and bag.

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.

But you can layer a long vest over your outfit for a flattering, streamlined look.

Cardigan, silk top and white jeans outfit |

Eileen Fisher Sheer Silk Georgette High Collar JacketEquipment Tamar Asymmetric Silk TankAlice + Olivia Andrew Slim Bootcut PantsBadgley Mischka Brynna SandalsAimee Kestenberg Hamilton Canvas and Leather Hobo BagGwen Beloti Jewelry Sol Woven Ball 18K-Gold-Plated Huggie Earrings

13. if you do wear a print

Look out for scarf style prints and chain prints, inspired by Versace, or a little bit of leopard print inspired by Dolce & Gabbana.

Elie Tahari Haven Printed Silk-Blend Shirt |

Elie Tahari Haven Printed Silk-Blend Shirt

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.

You don’t have to stick to Italian brands, but do choose quality materials and craftsmanship.

MAISON de SABRÉ Large Leather Zipped Soft Tote |

MAISON de SABRÉ Large Leather Zipped Soft Tote

AllSaints Frankie Leather Crossbody Bag |

AllSaints Frankie Leather Crossbody Bag

15. Be inspired by Italian designers

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.

Italian fashion designers |

VersaceGiorgio ArmaniPrada

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.

ViX by Paula Hermanny Mesh Knotted Cover-Up Minidress |

ViX by Paula Hermanny Mesh Knotted Cover-Up Minidress

17. Don’t forget your pajamas

Don’t stop the glamour just because it is bedtime. Slipping into a pair of silk or satin pajamas can make you feel great great whether lounging, sleeping or relaxing with a great book.

Papinelle Audrey Silk Pajamas |

Papinelle Audrey Silk Pajamas

18. 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.

Isabel Marant 53mm Cat Eye Sunglasses |

Isabel Marant 53mm Cat Eye Sunglasses

Italian fashion tips - don't forget your sunglasses |

Susanne @textelle above (read her style interview here) looks lovely in her blue skirt and her stylish sunglasses.

Check out this similar top (another option here), skirt (another option here), sandals, clutch, earrings and sunglasses.

19. 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.

Sewing KIT Premium Repair Set |

VelloStar Sewing Kit

Make sure you look after your clothes. Choose quality hangers that will ensure they keep their shape.

StorageWorks Wooden Coat Hangers |

StorageWorks Wooden Coat Hangers

20. 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 |

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

For your tops, think about classy, subtle glamour. Choose drapes, twists and luxurious fabrics like satin and silk.

Italian style tops |

Reiss Haley Silk Button-Front ShirtKOBI HALPERIN Mila Sleeveless Stretch Silk BlouseEquipment Tamar Asymmetric Silk TankCami NYC Noreen Silk-Blend Drape Bodysuit

White blazer and print pants |

Capsule 121 The Courage JacketKOBI HALPERIN Mila Sleeveless Stretch Silk BlouseCara Cara Samantha Gradient Dot PantsBadgley Mischka Brynna SandalsAimee Kestenberg Hamilton Canvas and Leather Hobo BagFRONAY Italian Red Horn Necklace

coats and jackets

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.

Italian style jackets and coats |

Capsule 121 The Courage JacketL’AGENCE Blanca Sequin Crop CardiganEileen Fisher Sheer Silk Georgette High Collar JacketCinq à Sept Jayla Embroidered Organza Trench Coat

jeans and pants

While Italian women love their glamorous dresses, they also love the drama of wide leg or cigarette-leg pants.

Italian style pants |

Peony Del Mar Pleated Wide-Leg PantsAlice + Olivia Andrew Slim Bootcut PantsL‘AGENCE Dree Status Wide-Leg TrousersCara Cara Samantha Gradient Dot Pants

Patricia wears a polo neck top and black pants |

Patricia @patriciaafricaiglesias above (read her style interview here) opts for an on-trend polo neck and classic slim pants. Note she adds interest to her outfit with her print bag.

Get her look with this similar polo shirt, trousers, pumps; clutch, earrings and sunglasses.

dresses and jumpsuit

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.

Also look out for glamorous, wide-leg jumpsuits that show off your waistline.

Italian style dresses, romper and skirt |

L’AGENCE Mayer Military Maxi Wrap DressJ.Crew Seamed Linen DressL’AGENCE Arabell Paisley RomperL’AGENCE Luca Silk Maxi Skirt

shoes and boots

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. Italian women also love mules, which can be trickier to walk in because there’s nothing securing your heel, so you need to make sure they fit well.

Italian style shoes |

Schutz Hilly PumpFree People Jules Point Wrap FlatsAnne Klein Bonnie PumpsBadgley Mischka Brynna Sandals

Print shirt and black pants outfit |

Elie Tahari Haven Printed Silk-Blend ShirtPeony Del Mar Pleated Wide-Leg PantsSchutz Hilly PumpMAISON de SABRÉ Large Leather Zipped Soft ToteGwen Beloti Jewelry Sol Woven Ball 18K-Gold-Plated Huggie Earrings


As a general rule, Italian women prefer gold jewelry, which suits warm skintones and looks more glamorous. If you really want a slice of Italian culture, then choose an Italian horn necklace. The Italian horn is a symbol of good luck and is usually given to Italian women as a gift.

FRONAY Italian Red Horn Necklace |

FRONAY Italian Red Horn Necklace

Hoop earrings are also incredibly popular to finish off outfits for Italian women. Wear with everything from your jeans to dresses.

Gwen Beloti Jewelry Sol Woven Ball 18K-Gold-Plated Huggie Earrings |

Gwen Beloti Jewelry Sol Woven Ball 18K-Gold-Plated Huggie Earrings

Shashi Pierre 18K-White-Gold-Plated & Cubic Zirconia Stud Earrings |

Shashi Pierre 18K-White-Gold-Plated & Cubic Zirconia Stud Earrings


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.

Italian style accessories |

Aimee Kestenberg The Lenny Tote BagAimee Kestenberg Hamilton Canvas and Leather Hobo BagANDANTINO 100% Mulberry Silk Long ScarfMANGO Leopard Printed Scarf

Belted dress and scarf outfit |

L’AGENCE Mayer Military Maxi Wrap DressAnne Klein Bonnie PumpsAllSaints Frankie Leather Crossbody BagMANGO Leopard Printed ScarfIsabel Marant 53mm Cat Eye Sunglasses

Brands to look for if you love an Italian look

  1. Black Halo
  2. Mango
  3. STAUD
  4. Karen Millen
  5. Betsy & Adam
  6. Alice + Olivia 
  7. Kurt Geiger London
  8. Brahmin

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?

Mix and match the separates, jackets and accessories to create different looks.

Italian style capsule wardrobe |

shop THE italian style capsule wardrobe here:

Below is a past season Italian style capsule for more outfit inspiration.

Italian style capsule wardrobe |
Italian style capsule wardrobe |

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? 

Continue reading:

  1. French Fashion: 14 French Style Secrets To Steal
  2. A Capsule Wardrobe And Style Guide For The EUROCHIC Style Personality
  3. A Capsule Wardrobe For The Classic Style Personality

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Italian fashion: How to style yourself like Italian women |

Feature image by Rita @ritapalazzi


Sylvia is 40+style’s editor-in-chief and has been helping women find their unique style since 2011. An alumni of the School of Color and Design, she is devoted to empowering women of any age to look and feel their best. Read more about Sylvia and 40+style on this page.

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