Red attracts attention, but that’s not why you should wear something red on New Year’s Eve. In Italy wearing something red on New Year’s Eve is a tradition with origins dating to ancient Rome.

In ancient Roman times both men and women wore something red as a symbol of power, fertility, health and wealth.

The goddess Diana hunting in the forest with a bow, and wearing red clothing associated with deities and very high-status Romans. From a fresco in the Via Livenza Hypogeum, Rome, c. 350 AD / Wikimedia

Men typically wore a toga, and women wore a stola. A woman’s stola was a dress worn over a tunic and was usually brightly colored. A fibula (or brooch) would be used as ornamentation or to hold the stola in place. Frescos and mosaics preserved throughout Italy and at sites such as Herculaneum and Pompeii depict gods, goddesses, and nobility wearing red. In fact, Pompeian Red” is even a Pantone color (PANTONE® 18-1658 TPX).

Chinese tradition also reveres red as a color that brings luck and prosperity. It is usually worn at weddings to wish the newlywed couple good fortune. According to Chinese mythology, the Niàn, the man-eating beast can be warded off by loud noises, fire, and the color red. It became custom to wear red and place red lanterns in the window to send away evil spirits.

Valentino is the Milanese designer most associated with the color red. The colorful statuettes and sumptuous red curtains at the Barcelona Opera House struck the designer as a young man. Trying to create richness and beauty, he mixed his own color. Today, “Red Valentino” is a trademarked color.

Although you would look fabulous, you don’t have to wear an evening gown to follow the Italian New Year tradition; a red accessory or accent will do!

What to Wear on New Year’s Eve


The Attico – Lola Slingback Satin Pumps – Red

Red Lace Bra by La Perla

La Perla

La Perla: Layla U-Wire Bra


Leather belt with torchon Double G buckle

Salvatore Ferragamo

Gancini bracelet

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

travel advisor in italyCiao, I’m Celia, your travel advisor in Italy! Need help planning your trip to Italy? Learn about what to do and see, and where to eat and sleep. Ask me a question or request a custom travel plan. Book a consultation.