Shopping in the men’s department

A lesson in unique style

Cassandra Brown
November 2, 2006

Known for their style and taste around the world, Italian men have a distinctive sense of dress and aesthetic.  Not afraid of bright colours and innovative styles, they are experts on materials and the cut of cloth. Attention to detail, a body-conscious silhouette and an enjoyment of colour are all trademarks of the Italian man.


The shirt: As with all things Italian, the shirt is slim-fitting and expertly tailored – often they are handmade with initials embroidered on the front.  The tradition of a shirt that is made to measure is kept alive by the numerous tailors who have retained the expertise handed down from father to son, ensuring a perfect fit.  White shirts set off a tan perfectly, but the range of colours are infinite, and may even include embroidery and embellishments, especially at the casual end of the scale.


The jacket: A casual engage-ment requires a jacket over a shirt or t-shirt, depending on age and occasion.  Jackets, like shirts, are slim-fitting, and the materials can range from linen in the summer to cashmere or velvet in colder seasons.  Stitching is also purposely visible on some styles. The jacket can often be worn with the collar up, and as it becomes colder, a cashmere scarf can be worn tied around the neck. 


The jumper: The jumper is an art form.  The male equivalent of the female neck scarf, the jumper can be worn in a variety of ways, all of which can alter the feel and look of an outfit.  Italian men will sometimes wear the jumper over the shoulders, and in bright colours–oranges, pinks, blues and turquoises all suit the Italian’s skin tone.  Usually the jumper is cashmere, Loro Piana and Ballantyne being firm favourites.


Jeans: A vast array of choices has emerged on jeans market, and the Italian trademark style is to wear heavily embellished, treatment washed or even embroidered pairs.  Jeans can be worn with casual tops, with a shirt and jacket for both day and evening, and are almost always slim-fitting. Italian men can also be spotted sporting jeans and trousers of unusual colours, oranges and reds being popular choices, especially for older men.


Shoes: The shoe emerges as a leader in the style stakes. Generally much more pointed than its foreign counterparts, the Italian shoe is a work of art, and artisans around Florence, in particular, have perfected the art of the handmade shoe. Exotic leathers and skins are favoured, and the shoe is usually slip-on.  A notable give-away of the Italian man is the wearing of shoes with no socks.  Casual shoes are a massive trend in Italy. They come in varieties of colours, including bright colours with embellishments.


Accessories: In this vast-ranging category, leather is usually the accessory, the extension of the look which, together with slim lines, defines the Italian man. Bags made from an array of leathers, including exotics and reptile, with color preference tending to browns, are worn over the shoulder or carried, and nearly always match accessories such as shoes and belts. Label bags are popular, especially Louis Vuitton monogrammed bags. Sunglasses are nearly always worn, whatever the weather and season.  They are typically large and can be worn in varying positions on the head, from the eyes, top of the head and the forehead.


Grooming:Fundamental to Italian style, grooming is taken extremely seriously.  Hair is styled carefully, with great amounts of hair gel. Facial hair is also carefully considered and differing styles are popular with different age groups.


Entering the world of the style of the Italian man is quite an undertaking.  Every aspect, from head to toe, is thought about and tweaked to perfection.  Attention to detail is crucial and trying to emulate this style will take time and care. Remember that the style of an Italian man is an important reflection of his sense of history and of pride in the bella figura—fundamental to the self-esteem of the Italian. 

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