The secrets of Italian fashion style are revealed. Read on to learn how to create a chic Italian-inspired look that will turn heads on your travels.

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In the early 1980s, Richard Gere, more handsome than ever, introduced himself to the world with his American Gigolo. Catalyzing the viewers' gaze was him, a suit with understated, yet elegant and refined lines. It was not just a Giorgio Armani suit, but the symbol of fashion in Italy.

A kind of effortless glamor, a meticulous attention to detail, to the quality of the fabric and its finish.

We should say it's a kind of unwritten law, but that seems inherent in the DNA of the Bel Paese. It surely was at the time of the American Gigolò, but also long before, and it certainly lives more than ever today.

Fashion in Italy: the Italian Style that makes a good impression

italian fashion style

"Making a good impression" is more than just an Italian saying. "Fare bella figura", in fact, literally means something like "to make a good or beautiful figure of yourself". We are told it over and over again since we are children, it becomes part of our daily lives as we grow up, and we try to pass it on to the younger ones as we become adults.

The care, elegance and composure with which we present ourselves to the rest of the world contribute to creating "the good figure." In other words, the intent to always show the best version of yourself to those around us. As if what you show is the fruit of your inner self.

And, therefore, this way of saying undoubtedly has a lot to do with Italian clothing style and way of dressing.

Indeed, it seems that this way of understanding fashion in Italy was even born in Renaissance Florence, at the Medici court. Now this extraordinary city is one of the fashion capitals, but it was also once. In fact, it can be said to have been one of the first.

Indeed, the powerful Medici family had begun to invest copious amounts of money to present itself to its allies, its adversaries, and its people in the most beautiful and elegant way possible. In short, they could be said to have been the first to want to "make a good impression." Indeed, the "most beautiful figure possible".

And today?

How to dress like an Italian

italian fashion

Having a closet filled with gorgeous garments is a dream shared by all fashion lovers. Yet, "Style is elegance, not extravagance", said Giorgio Armani.

Knowing what to wear and how to match an outfit with shoes and accessories, to give our look a different impact, is indeed not trivial.

It happens much more often than we would like to admit to standing still for hours in front of the closet thinking, "I don't have anything to wear". Or of wandering from store to store hoping to find the perfect garment that will set the tone for your outfit.

The professionals at McArthurGlen Designer Outlets' five Italian locations know this well: it's not having dozens of garments that counts. To be flawless, you only need 10 must-have garments that will change your life.

Which ones?

What do Italian women wear to look effortlessly elegant

how to dress like an italian

What do Italian women wear to look flawless on every occasion?

We reveal here the 10 garments that help make every look perfect at all times.

I know what women want. They want to be beautiful.


1. White shirt

italian style

A white shirt is like the best friend ready to come to your rescue on any occasion. Essential for more formal looks, perfect for casual ones as well.

You can wear it with a jacket - trouser suits, with jeans, shorts or a skirt.

If you want to create a more special outfit you can put it under dresses with thin straps.

In addition to the classic version with a collar and long sleeves there are a thousand variations with different types of necklines, longer or shorter sleeves or wide and turned-up cuffs.

2. Little black dress

little black dress

The so-called "little black dress" is an evergreen that never goes out of fashion and is suitable for different occasions. Better to choose it basic and twist it from time to time with different accessories, in this way it will completely change style.

The sheath dress version, short or below the knee, sleeveless or strapless, is the dress invented by Coco Chanel in 1926 and became a style icon in the 1960s when Audrey Hepburn wore it in Breakfast at Tiffany's.

I can give up everything but high heels.

Donatella Versace

3. Blazer


The blazer looks good with anything: over a shirt, a lace top with high-waisted pants, skirt or jeans, heels or sneakers.

Certainly if you choose it in black, navy blue or a light solid color, it will be easier to match than patterned prints, but what you'll notice is that this garment will serve you 12 months of the year.

4. Trench coat

trench coat

The trench coat is a double-breasted raincoat with more than a century of history, timeless in shades of beige and camel. Perfect for fall and spring, it can be long or short or even midi.

A little caution to keep in mind: if you wear it with a skirt it should be at least the same length, not shorter.

5. Jeans


Invented by the tailor Jacob Davis in 1871 and patented in 1873 by Lévi Strauss, they are now in every closet in the world, and rightly so. Whatever model you choose, it is important that it enhances your shape and is not uncomfortable.

Perfect for a more casual and smart look or even for more glamorous evenings: accessories make the difference.

6. Skirt


A skirt is a splendid garment that easily fits every body shape, never vulgar and always sexy.

The important thing is to choose it in the right length and model: tube, longuette, with front zipper or side slit, in stretch fabric or leather.

At one time, skirts were part of formal outfits, while today they can be much more fun elements and be downplayed by accessories. Like, for example, sneakers popping out of a pleated, toe-length skirt!

7. High heeled shoes

High heeled shoes

There are hundreds of models of high heeled shoes. Stiletto, cone, kitten, etc.

For women, in fact, heels represent a real craze and have become over the years the quintessential symbol of femininity.

Over the years, traditional models have been joined by dozens of others. Yet, the only evergreen is the one with the slim heel and tapered toe, usually black.

In recent years, however, the jeweled shoe is definitely catching on as well, a model that is definitely not casual but can be worn on the most mundane evenings. And although no Italian woman will ever admit it, for every pair of heeled shoes she wears, there is a pair of ballet flats ready to wear in her purse...

High heels. Very high indeed. Because life is too short to spend it on the ground.

Veronica Benini (Spora)

8. Sneakers


Sneakers manage to give that girlish air, of someone who wants to enjoy a life of freedom walking lightly on the world.

If you choose them white you can really match them with everything but it would perhaps be a shame to put a brake on your imagination.

In recent years, the use of this shoe has been completely cleared through customs, so much so that they are popping up on the most glamorous red carpets.

9. Clutch bag

clutch bag

Here we come to another obsessive-compulsive syndrome written into the female DNA: handbags and clutches. You know when you're asked what you do with all those bags and you just can't make sense of the question? Here.

Let's say you can get it in case, in the midst of so much abundance, you don't have a clutch for evening and a maxi-bag for daytime (but we'll talk about that in the next paragraph).

A clutch bag for evening is needed because you can't match anything else to certain outfits, but also because they are the sophisticated and ever-fashionable accessory that twists the style, giving it taste and character, even if you are wearing jeans, heels and a blouse repainted inside pants or a short top.

The advice is to have at least one shade that goes a bit with everything and in a solid color, to avoid getting into trouble.

10. Handbag and sunglasses

bag and sunglasses

These two elements, the handbag and sunglasses, go hand in hand, and it almost seems as if one cannot exist without the other.

Whether in summer, on the hottest days, or in winter, when the sun is but a shy reflection behind the clouds, sunglasses are the must-have accessory. In fact, every woman owns more than one pair, to match impeccably with her outfit. The color and style of the glasses, in fact, are the result of a choice that is always judicious and never casual.

Accompanying the accessories is the handbag. During the day, the bag is voluminous and comfortable, but it never gives up a hint of elegance and glamour. The necessary touch to make the outfit always trendy.

What do Italian men wear to look fashionable

To be elegant you absolutely mustn't look like you've dressed to the nines, i.e. you must have studied yourself very well, you must have coordinated yourself; you must always have a rather casual air, which doesn't mean being sloppy.

Giorgio Armani

Of course, a woman's look can play on many more variables than a man's, but even a well-stocked male wardrobe has its cornerstones.

More precisely, there are three: the fabric that makes the difference, the color that turns an outfit into elegant or sporty, and the versatility that makes a garment suitable for different occasions.

1. Jeans

blue jeans

Among the 10 must-haves for men are definitely, as for women, jeans, a passe-partout suitable for many occasions.

They are preferred in darker colors on formal occasions, while lighter on more informal (or daytime) occasions.

Let's not forget that ripped or faded jeans are a great garment for teenagers but give back a less groomed image of those who are more adult. In fact, they would not really be worn in more formal settings, such as in the office.

2. Polo or t-shirt

t shirt

A second must-have item is a Polo shirt or a cotton t-shirt, preferably plain and without flashy prints or bright colors.

A sporty Polo shirt can be a good substitute for a shirt in your free time. 

3. Top quality shirt

top quality shirt

Of course, a top quality shirt also cannot be missing in a man's wardrobe (actually, a bit more than one). On the other hand, the choice is not so obvious.

Indeed, one must pay attention to several factors. The occasion of use, more informal or casual, the color and the quality of the fabric are in fact some of the most important elements of choice. Without forgetting to evaluate also the shape of the collar, the buttons (and their quality), as well as the cuffs.

At the cuffs, in fact, but only on the most important and solemn occasions, cufflinks are applied, the jewel that completes the male outfit in the best way.

A tip for dressing like an Italian man? Always wear shirts with long sleeves....

4. Double-breasted suit

double breasted suit

We have arrived at the fourth item: the double-breasted suit. One of the classics par excellence, over time it has lost that excessively "uniform" flavor that it used to have, and has become an accomplice of the man who wants to be elegant and never banal in the frenetic metropolitan life.

And, if a nice watch comes out of the cuff, even better... 

5. Leather jacket

how to dress like an italian man

For mid-seasons a must-have is the James Dean-style leather (or faux leather) jacket, an informal and casual garment with much, much style, especially if it's a simple black jacket with a zipper and without too much detailing.

If the leather jacket doesn't seem like the right choice, you can always opt for a trench coat, worn over the years by such classy men as Humphrey Bogart, Alain Delon and Peter Sellers.

6. Tie


And for more formal occasions? Whether it is for business purposes or for a ceremony, in the male outfit the tie cannot be missing.

They are elements that, while giving elegance and refinement to the outfit thanks to the quality of the fabric, give a note of color to the outfit.

By now, ties with the most imaginative patterns have also been cleared through customs. Striped, dotted or in particularly bright colors: all that remains is to find the one (or rather, those) that best suits your taste.

7. Tailored suit

tailored suit

The tailored suit is the elegant, versatile, chic, but with a touch of personal creativity element that cannot be missing in any man's wardrobe.

Usually chosen in darker hues, such as midnight blue or black, in recent years it is beginning to be worn in brighter colors as well.

It is often paired with a tie and, in the colder months, with a waistcoat that is usually made of the same fabric as the suit. Sometimes, however, to liven up the outfit, we opt for different fabrics and colors, but in the same palette.

In this case, the professional look of the person who will assist you while choosing your suit will really make all the difference!

8. Classic Shoes

Italian style man shoes

What can't be missing in a man's closet? Clearly the element that, most of all, completes an outfit.

We are talking about the shoes that best embody the classic style.

There are different shapes, models, some that dare a little more and others that be more simple. What is the evergreen model?

Certainly those made of leather, or faux leather, black, and lace-ups. This is the shoe par excellence, which is never missing in men's wardrobes and represents the quintessence of elegance and Italian style.

When in Italy shop like an Italian

clothing style in italy

As you are coming to Italy, you're probably eager to experience the country's renowned fashion and dress like a true Italian.

Lucky for you, in five of the most important Italian cities, you can find McArthurGlen Designer Outlets, the ultimate destination for Italian and international fashion brands, where you'll find everything you need to achieve that effortless yet sophisticated Italian style. 

Italian fashion is all about quality over quantity, and there you'll find the finest Italian brands known for their timeless elegance and impeccable craftsmanship. From tailored suits to perfectly-fitted shirts, classic leather shoes to statement accessories, McArthurGlen Designer Outlets have everything you need to complete your Italian-inspired wardrobe.

So why not indulge in some Italian fashion during your trip and take a piece of Italy's timeless clothing style home with you?

I remember the class and elegance of David Niven: more than an actor, he was a gentleman that every woman would like to have by her side. A man who opened doors for you, who had the elegance to always walk one step behind you, who would offer you his arm at the slightest difficulty on the road.

Claudia Cardinale

Content created in collaboration with Best Magazine.

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