‘Sprezzatura’. It’s an interesting word — and one without a direct English translation. But the Italians slip on, button up and style out this elusive concept better than any others. From their inimitable fashion fairs, such as Pitti Uomo, to their everyday street style, the southern Europeans know how to dress to impress.
But how can we export this carefree, nonchalant style to our shores? With summer on the warm weather approach, it’s high time we turned to our European cousins for some style inspiration. So pull out your pocket squares, slip on your loafers and unfold your sunglasses: Here are the five fashion tips you should be stealing from Italian gentlemen.
Learn to refine your colour palette
Let’s start broad strokes; your wardrobe should operate within a restrained, refined colour palette. From your jackets to your shoes, you want to ensure that every one of your garments fits into the same family of colours. Greys, blues, beiges and sands are a good bet — ideal for effortless Italian style.
That way, when you slip on your Luca Faloni sweater over a pair of Berluti chinos, and step into your Tod’s loafers, everything will match — even if you just wildly grabbed garments from your wardrobe in a morning rush. Now that’s sprezzatura.
Luca Faloni Pure Cashmere Polo Sweater
Luca Faloni Pure Cashmere Cable Knit
Apposta Chambray Shirt
Slip on a pair of loafers this summer
Speaking of loafers, is there any footwear more carefree and Italian than these leather slip-ons? Adding to that air of insouciance, these simple-but-stylish shoes are the perfect way to emulate the Italian way of dressing — especially if you buy a leather pair that will build up a characterful patina over time.
Granted, as staunch Englishmen we don’t wholeheartedly agree with the whole ‘no socks’ approach of the Italians, but we’d still suggest investing in a couple of pairs before summer. Go one lot in leather and one in suede for starters, before experimenting with wider colours — all within your Italian palette, of course…
Tod’s Nubuck Penny Loafers
Crockett & Jones Camden Loafers
G.H. Bass Weejuns in Navy Suede
Educate yourself in the art of the pocket square
Italians know how to accessorise. And, whilst we Britons pride ourselves on the collective arts of tie tying, belt buckling and hat doffing, no-one does it quite like our European cousins. And that’s because — as with the rest of their style — they make it look effortless.
Exhibit A? The pocket square. Do away with the stiff, starched accessories of the British gent, and instead start amassing a collection of silky, loudly patterned squares. You want to add a punch of colour, not just a touch — and this is the Italian way. Buy a bold, brash square for every day of the week, and stuff them in your suit jacket with reckless abandon. Capisce?
Etro Paisley Silk Pocket Square
Brunello Cucinelli Silk Pocket Square
Sir Plus Paisley Pocket Square
Relax your suiting, and invest in separates
An Italian suit is about as far from Savile Row as you can get. Unstructured, unbuttoned and frequently unmatched, the Italians take a very informal approach to formalwear. For us, suiting is about dressing up. To get the Italian look, you want to dress your suit down.
That means buying up separates in different colours — but nothing too avant-garde, if you’ll pardon the French. Go for navy or stone, and double-breasted never goes amiss. For trousers, you want pleats, linens and tapered affairs — look to Rubinacci for inspiration.
Rubinacci Navy Double-Breasted Blazer
Rubinacci Manny Tapered Linen Trousers
Boglioli Drill Suit Jacket
Invest in more than one pair of sunglasses
As we touched on with pocket squares, the Italians have a real talent for accessorising. In fact, for the most part, their actual clothes seem to come second to these finishing touches. And, just as we advised you to invest in a whole storm of silken pocket squares, the same goes for your sunglasses.
The Italians know better than most that the same pair just won’t do for every situation. And, although us Britons don’t live in as sun-soaked a country as the southern Europeans, it still pays to start a collection. Persol, Italian golden boys of the accessory industry, are the best to buy — so start off with their iconic Folding D-Frames below.
Persol 714 Folding D-Frame Sunglasses
Cutler And Gross 1008 Crystal
Persol Gold-Tone Sunglasses
Want more sunglasses options? Here are the best to buy this summer — and how to match your shades to your face shape…