When it comes to dressing up Italian men are the perfect sartorial measuring sticks. They grew up going to tailors so they know their fashion well. They know about fit, cut, fabrication and the subtle way of accessorizing. Women look to Parisiennes for pointers on how to be chic. Us men have the Italians to emulate. So here’s your point-by-point guide to looking like a native of Milan or Naples.
First you have to lose the mom jeans. Then the pleated khaki pants that balloon around the waist. While you’re at it, the short sleeve plaid button downs that are shaped like kites have to go too. And save the world from the unsightly vision of a cellphone belt clip. It’s time to get rid of yours too.
Now on to our Italian makeover.
Start with the right fit.
The Italians pride themselves on wearing clothes that fit their shoulders just so and with dress pants that are sharp. The seams connecting the shoulders and sleeves of a shirt or suit jacket should end where your shoulders and arms are joined. Anything lower than that is ill-fitting. Shirts should be close to the body but not so tight the buttons pop out.
Learn to embrace color.
Sure, salmon colored pants or periwinkle sweaters are hard to pull off especially if you don’t have the swagger of a Milanese. But you can inject color to your outfit in small doses. An orange belt with jeans and a white shirt or purple driving loafers with khakis and a navy blazer will instantly elevate your look. But if you’ve got the chutzpah, go ahead and wear those white jeans with a pink blazer.
Learn the art of the pocket square.
There’s not a lot of wiggle room when it comes to men’s accessories (a watch, wedding band, tie and tie bar, and well-polished shoes), which is why you should make them count. The most basic pocket squares are the white ones with a colored border. It’s okay to match the color of your pocket square with your tie, but since it is such a small piece of fabric you are free to go wild and pick something with a pattern or an exuberant color. Folding a pocket square is a tricky exercise especially if you go for the triangle peaks. The simplest way is to lay out a pocket square flat, pick it from the center and stuff it in your jacket pocket.
Pick grown up accessories.
Unless you’re going to the gym or ball game, trade in the ball hat for a Panama hat (in the summer) or a fedora or a newsboy cap. You’re a man now.
Attempt to do loafers sans socks look especially on casual Fridays or weekends. With tapered pants with a clean break, this would look especially stylish. But if you can’t do without socks, slip on pair that’s in a bright color like red, green or even orange.
Banish those slogan t-shirts from your closet.
No self-respecting Italian would ever be caught dead wearing a shirt that says “I’m with stupid →”. The Milanese man knows that a plain white or gray tee is one of the most versatile items you could ever own.
If you like cargo pants, go for the modern approach and buy a pair with tapered legs.
Wear them with a button down and a blazer finished off with sand colored desert boots as they are wont to do at the house of Brunello Cucinelli. You can’t get anymore Italian than that.
Follow these sartorial nuggets and you may just end up being snapped by The Sartorialist.