6 Summer Trends Italians Have Mastered That Channel "La Dolce Vita" Dressing

Think of an Italian summer and it's likely you draw the same picture as me. Al-fresco dinners, Vespas, Negronis and swimming in the sea—in other words, total perfection. After years of holidaying in Italy I've shopped in Milan, gone sightseeing in Rome and eaten the best gelato of all time in Lake Como, but of everything I love about vacationing in the country, people watching for impeccable fashion trends takes the top spot. Capri, Positano, the Amalfi coast, no matter where you stay you're guaranteed to find good espresso and great styling, but thankfully, you don't have to book a plane ticket to dress like a chic Italian—I've already done the research for you.

summer fashion trends

(Image credit: @gildaambrosio)

Shopping for your summer wardrobe needn't be laborious, and if your usual t-shirt and shorts uniform is starting to feel a bit "samey", no one does outfit inspiration quite like the Italians. "Effortless" and "understated" might not be the first thing you think of when you imagine an Italian woman's wardrobe, but believe me, their approach to warm-weather dressing is entirely fuss-free. Alongside the luxury labels and polished accessories are breezy fabrics, comfy flats and cute dresses that I'm confident you're going to love, so if you've ever wanted to dress like an Italian for a taste of la dolce vita, keep scrolling for the 6 trends that come with their stamp of approval.

1. Ankle Tie Sandals

Italian summer fashion trends

(Image credit: @gildaambrosio)

Style Notes: We're spoiled for choice when it comes to sandal trends, but one style I kept seeing on Italy's best dressed were ankle-tied shoes. Heels or flats, espadrilles or gladiators, this delicate detail ups the cute factor of just about any kind of shoe, but just be wary of the tan lines.

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2. Linen Tailoring

italian summer fashion trends

(Image credit: @giorgiatordini)

Style Notes: Linen might not be "sexy" but is a universally acknowledged fact that it is one of the coolest things to wear in summer (in every sense of the word). Linen trousers are a classic of course, but you won't regret stocking up on dresses, skirts, and even blazers for a smart but sensible 'fit that prevents overheating.

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3. 90's Minimalism

italian summer fashion trends

(Image credit: Szymon Brzoska | The Style Stalker)

Style Notes: While taking a quick look through Milan street style pictures, this look stood out for all of the right reasons. Yes, cream colour-blocking is always going to score high on the luxury scale, but it's also a reminder of how stripping things back-to-basics can pay off. Think 90's Calvin Klein, Helmut Lang and Ann Demulemeester—monochrome minimalism is back with a bang, although, it never really went out of style.

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4. Milkmaid Dresses

Italian summer fashion trends

(Image credit: @glitterpeony)

Style Notes: We called it—Milkmaid dresses are everywhere this summer, and Italians were one step ahead of the trend before the rest of us. This pretty, basque inspired style is known for it's waist-cinching, ultra-feminine, puffball-sleeved or full-skirted silhouette, and it just so happens to pair particularly well with some of the other trends on this list. It's likely we have the "coquette" aesthetic to thank for this dresses popularity, but we're happy to back any trend that looks this good on everyone.

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5. Off-The-Shoulder Tops


(Image credit: @erika_boldrin)

Style Notes: It's only right that your impulse in the summer is to wear as little as possible, but Italians have a subtle way of showing skin that works for evening too. Shoulder-baring Bardot tops are the latest neckline to stir up a storm in the Continent, and have been spotted on the runways too. Just add a tailored trouser and a demi-heel for date night or a flat sandal for the office and I guarantee, you're going to receive a lot of compliments.

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6. Cat-Eye Sunglasses

Italian summer fashion trends

(Image credit: Szymon Brzoska - The Style Stalker)

Style Notes: It just wouldn't be a complete list without every Italian's favourite accessory thrown into the mix, and a good pair of sunglasses are a wardrobe staple, especially those that look as retro as possible. The cat eye frame conjures up images of chic dresses and immaculately tied silk headscarfs that wouldn't look out of place in an Audrey Hepburn movie, in short, perfect for a Roman Holiday.

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7. Basket Bags

Italian summer fashion trends

(Image credit: @glitterpeony)

Style Notes: And last but not least, a summer bag trend we can all agree on, basket bags are sticking around for yet another year at least. Perfect for carrying your book, towel and SPF for the beach, or, chucking in your laptop, make-up and keys for the city, if you haven't already amassed a collection of these versatile bags already, consider this your sign to invest in your first. You won't regret it.

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Remy Farrell
Fashion Editor

Remy Farrell is a London-based shopping editor with nearly 10 years of editorial experience covering fashion, beauty and lifestyle. After graduating with a journalism degree and working on the editorial and fashion teams for titles such as Grazia, Elle, Cosmopolitan and British Vogue, she moved into the luxury e-commerce sector, working as fashion assistant at TheOutnet.com styling for the social media channels and helping to develop the collections for the in-house brand Iris & Ink. After expanding an assisting and styling portfolio that includes shooting talent such as Gigi Hadid, Victoria Beckham and Miquita Oliver, she also branched out into beauty, creating tried-and-tested reviews and diverse beauty content.In her role as shopping editor at Who What Wear, Remy is interested in discovering new and exciting brands to share with the Who What Wear readership and particularly loves uncovering hidden gems at affordable prices to make shopping accessible to everyone.Born and raised in Sheffield, Yorkshire, Remy moved to London in 2014 and lives in the Docklands with her partner and pug Billie.