Dress like an Italian: Alessandro Squarzi’s guide to summer style
We asked Alessandro Squarzi — fashion entrepreneur, vintage car collector and thoroughly nice guy — for his six top tips for dressing like an Italian, from shirting to shoes
It’s not fair really, is it? You spend a lifetime trying to establish a style for yourself, trying to corner the ‘cool’ market — and then someone like Alessandro Squarzi just breezes in. The Milan-based fashion entrepreneur epitomises the Italian idea of ‘sprezzatura’ — the studied, insouciant art of careless sophistication — and is one of the most prominent collectors of vintage clothes, cars, watches and motorcycles in Italy.
A good man, then, to offer up an Italian’s guide to dressing for summer. With sunny days on our dreary horizon, we’re excited to get out of the house, dress to the nines and begin socialising once more. And how better to make a style statement than by following the advice of one of the most street-shot fashion enthusiasts in Europe?
Explore the wonderful versatility of the t-shirt
We’ve been looking at the t-shirt all wrong — according to Squarzi, at least. The Italian doesn’t see the simple, humble tee as an underlayer, or a garment grabbed last minute when you’re in a hurry. He sees it as an opportunity to explore and express yourself with its many forms, patterns and colours.
“My first suggestion for the summer is to rediscover the beauty of the polo shirt,” Squarzi tells us. “Discreetly elegant garments, polo shirts will add a refined touch to your outfit. In this case, it is also interesting to play with colours and patterns: a beautiful monochrome or striped polo shirt is perfect for summer. Also in this season, I’ll always appreciate the simplicity of a white T-shirt. But, importantly, it must be excellent quality cotton.”
Orlebar Brown Espresso Polo Shirt
Fuoriuso White Castellani T-Shirt
Sunspel Riviera Polo Shirt
Go bright white — and very size specific — with your trousers
We Brits aren’t known for wearing trousers during the summer months. In fact, at the first glimmer of good weather, we tend to whip then off in favour of shorts — and then keep our legs out until the soggy end of September. Squarzi, unsurprisingly, has a little more taste — and gives us but one suggestion in this category.
“White jeans, of course!” the entrepreneur exclaims. “And even better if they’re selvedge. The most important thing with jeans in general, whatever the colour, is that the denim does not stretch and that the fit properly conforms to your body. The width of your trousers, in my opinion, must never be less than 19cm.”
J. Crew Straight-fit Stretch Chinos
Tod’s White Denim Jeans
Fortela Denim Trousers
There are plenty of lightweight jackets to choose from
As with our approach to shorts, jackets don’t feature heavily — even in their lightweight forms, come to think of it — in many Brits’ summer wardrobes. It can be hard enough convincing some of us to even wear shirts when the sun’s out. Squarzi, however, is a sucker for a good characterful jacket. And his list of approved styles is long enough for us all to find some inspiration.
“I’m always glad to propose a vintage military jacket,” says Squarzi. “Or a jungle jacket or a Solaro jacket. These garments can always give a refined allure to even the most basic outfit. For summer I also appreciate linen jackets, in a butter or khaki colour — I always find them to be beautiful.”
Fortela Carlo Safari Jacket
Ermenegildo Zegna Unstructured Linen Jacket
J. Crew Wallace & Barnes M51 Jacket
Casual shirts can be long-sleeved, and Hawaiian prints are allowed
Shirts tend to swing wildly between formal and casual for most of us. They’ll either be starched-collar affairs, cuff-linked and worn with a suit and tie — or they’ll be wildly informal; furry and plaid for winter weekends or unbuttoned and garish for summer. Squarzi, however, suggests we stick to a middle ground.
“As far as shirts are concerned,” the Italian advises, “I always wear Texan shirts. Strictly long-sleeved though: the only short-sleeved shirts that I condone are the Hawaiian ones. And they can be colourful and fun — suitable for the summer and your most casual moments.”
Fortela Twill Texas Shirt
J. Crew Palm Print Shirt
Brunello Cucinelli Denim Western Shirt
Sandals still don’t cut it, so look for loafers instead
Flip-flops, be gone! Everyone already knew that the rubbery sunny weather stalwarts didn’t look good — but it’s taken Squarzi’s advice for us to kick our slider habit. Instead, the Italian suggests that you should invest as much in your summer footwear as you do in your winter boots. Just because they’re not as heavy-duty, he says, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be well-made.
“During summer,” Squarzi offers as an alternative to sandals and flip-flops, “I am a great lover of loafers. I believe them to be the perfect option, for every occasion. That is, except perhaps, for the beach. In that case, I would recommend a sporty shoe — a simple Vans slip-on, for example.”
JM Weston Black Boxcalf Tassel Loafers
Edward Green Belgravia Loafers
Vans Classic Slip-on Shoes
Accessorise according to how you feel, and make them practical
What springs to mind when you think of summer accessories? Sunglasses? A hat, perhaps? Broaden your mind. Squarzi certainly has. In fact, he’s currently all about the jewellery — and some practical fashion touches.
“Given the current global pandemic situation,” says Squarzi, “in my opinion a bandana is a personal touch to accompany a face mask. The importance of face masks is, at the moment, essential: we must understand that wearing the mask will be very important for everyone’s safety in the upcoming months. And, regarding other accessories, I really appreciate Navajo jewellery and, of course, watches. In these cases, I would suggest that you always wear something that best expresses your mood, depending on the day.”
Peyote Bird Canyonlands Cuff
Blue Blue Japan Bandana
Two Feathers Navajo Ring
Rather taken by that denim shirt above? We’re not surprised. They’re more refined than you think…
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