I have read that "portare" may mean "to wear" (a clothing) in southern Italy, but it is not usual in northern Italy. As this statement had no evidence supporting it and Word Reference's definition of "portare" (https://www.wordreference.com/iten/portare) says nothing about it, I don't trust it. Is it true?
Portare is a synonym of indossare (to wear) as you can read here. In an English semantic perspective you can think at Indossare as the Latin verb, while "portare" as the phrasal one, so you should use the latter only if you and your listeners have a good knowledge of Italian, otherwise it can be confused with bring (like Mario brings a coat [to s.b. else]). Indossare, on the other hand, tends to be pretty more formal but not so much that you cannot use in an everyday conversation.
In everyday language these two verbs are widely used: portare and the reflexive mettersi but the second one is even more informal than the first one and is literally referred to the action of getting dressed (to put on). It is commonly used in the past tense as you can read in the examples.
The following two sentences can both be used in an informal conversation and have exactly the same meaning:
- Maria oggi porta il cappotto rosso;
- Maria oggi si è messa il cappotto rosso (past, reflexive). In the past, because she put her coat on early this morning when she left home.
Maria si mette [adesso] il cappotto rosso (present, reflexive): Maria is about to leave her home and is putting her coat on now.