How to Dress Like an Italian: A Guide to Italian Style

Style Secrets to Steal From Italian Women

There is no question; Italian women are among the most stylish in the world. In this week’s video, I break down some key style secrets to steal from Italian women, and how to dress like an Italian woman.

While a lot of their flair for style is innate, the guiding principles of Italian girl style are really rooted in slow fashion. This is very similar to French girl inspired style. After having a long discussion about how to dress like an Italian with my cousin (who has been living in Italy for years) and her husband (a true Roman), I felt comfortable diving into the secrets of how to dress like an Italian woman. I do think it has to be said that I am also of Italian origin on both sides – my dad was born in Italy (from the Puglia region – you can watch my visit to Puglia in a vlog here), and my mother was born in Montreal to Italian immigrants (from the region of Molise). While I’m very much Canadian, Italian was the first language I ever learned and I grew up in a very Italian household with a deep understanding of “la bella figura”.

What is "la bella figura"?

To understand how to dress like an Italian woman, one must understand “la bella figura” – it is the foundation of Italian woman style. While there is no official definition, this quote from laragazzaitalina.com seems to sum it up really well.

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So you see, “la bella figura” is so much more than simply dressing well, it is a way of life wherein everything is beautiful – your manners, your appearance, your food, your friendships, etc. If you want to really dig into this topic, I highly recommend the book Bella Figura by Kamin Mohammadi. And with that, here are the style secrets of Italian women to help you dress like an Italian.

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1- Harmony: no matter how much print, loud colour or bold silhouettes are incorporated into an outfit, there is always an undercurrent of harmony. Somehow it works. This comes from thoughtfully chosen pieces that are still timeless and classic with quality fabrics, and/or a common colour scheme, and timeless accessories to pull it all together. Ultimately, it is a balancing act between drama and sophistication. Which brings me to … 

2 – Balance: Italian women style their outfits with balance. If there is drama somewhere, it will be balanced out with elegance. Short hems with long sleeves, bold accessories with a minimal ensemble, I could go on. The point is, there is never too much of one thing. 

3 – Lingerie: I think the confidence Italian women exude comes from their expertly chosen lingerie. Even if nobody but them is going to see it, Italian women still choose beautiful underpinnings. Not only for the confidence boost, but because well-fitting and appropriate underwear allows clothing to fall more gracefully off the body.

 
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4 – High quality basics: This is where the french and Italians are similar. They know the value behind a timeless, high quality basic piece, and they wear them often. Italian women also understand the importance of luxurious fabrics like linen, merino, and cashmere and taking good care of these basics. 

5 – A statement piece: In every Italian woman’s outfit you will find a statement or elevated piece. It could be something small, like an heirloom broach, or something with more of a wow factor like a statement coat. In all cases, it is beautiful, and adds the right touch of personality, making every Italian woman’s look “special”

6 – Emphasis: Italian women are not afraid to show off what they love best about themselves, and I think this is a beautiful thing that more women need to incorporate in their daily dressing. Did you ever see Sophia Loren look ashamed of flaunting her gorgeous figure? Or Claudia Cardinale? I think it’s this strong sense of self that Italian women poses which adds to their elegant confidence and sex appeal. 

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7 – Heels: I think this has changed in recent years, with sensible but stylish flats being the norm, but I do think a comfortable and stylish pair of heels can be seen in many an Italian woman’s outfit. Heels are another way to elevate an outfit (excuse the pun) and don’t need to be sky-high. (My 70+ year old aunt who always wears heels out is a testament to this).

8 – Quality accessories – handbag, shoes, and sunnies: This trifecta of style is always included in any Italian woman’s outfit. And they don’t have to be designer or incredibly expensive. The criteria here is well made, timeless and uber stylish. 

9 – Drama: Italians are known for their flair for the dramatic and this extends to their style too. However rather than depending on trendy items to do the work for them, Italian women know that drama can be added by playing around with silhouettes and proportions of garments.

For visual examples and to see how I shopped my closet to create some Italian Women inspired outfits – click here, or pin this post (at the bottom of the post!) as a reminder for future outfit inspiration. I’ve also added some shoppable links for the items I get asked the most about in my videos. Since my clothes are either vintage or very old, these are the best dupes I could find or simply items I love! 

As always, thank you for reading! xx

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all images by Katarina at Boakview Photography
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