Italy has long been considered a fashion capital, and many say it is indeed the fashion capital of the world. Milan is the city most known for style, design and fashion for both men and women. Fashion Week in Milan occurs four times a year, twice for men and twice for women. They share the limelight separately but equally.
The concept of the Bella Figura has always been an important part of the Italian lifestyle. The strong sense of pride in one's appearance is inherent in Italians, male and female alike. According to Saks Fifth Avenue President Ron Frasch, style "is more important to Italian men than it is to men of other countries. They're raised from a young age to appreciate quality and design." Men grow up in a culture of fashion where going to a tailor for a suit is part of life.
From this exposure at an early age, men are keenly aware of style and the use of accessories. When I recently visited Italy, I noticed just as many men as women stopping to window-shop at various clothing stores and boutiques.
What makes for a well-dressed man in Italy? Trends change every season, as demonstrated on the runways in Milan and at the Pitti Uomo, the fashion trade show in Florence. Suits made with heavy tweeds and wool fabrics in checkered and herringbone designs were complemented with strong accessories, like large colorful scarves and sunglasses with bold-colored frames. Even plaids and camouflage made an appearance.
Everything must fit well in the Italian men's fashion world. Suits are slim-cut with a trimmer waist and pants are tapered with a shorter length, one that reaches the ankle or sits just above, revealing colorful hosiery. Of course the well-polished loafer with tassels makes for a more casual look without any socks. Color is important, even in footwear. I saw an Italian man wearing nice-fitting blue jeans with pink sneakers at an airport in Catania.
Italians are passionate about everything, and they like to express themselves through color. Men's fashions in Italy make use of color not only in shirts and ties but also in trousers. Luca Rubinacci, the young member of the Naples tailoring business, has designed his own line which includes purple corduroys and bright yellow and pink jackets.
Italian men might choose velvet slippers and a silk scarf instead of a tie. It's about comfort as well as fit. Polished shoes with thick laces are the trend, usually worn with jeans or chinos. Church's shoes, now an Italian-owned brand, are also popular.
Robert Rabensteiner, the fashion editor of L'Uomo Vogue, explains that today's Italian man might wear a double-breasted suit jacket with slim-fitting white jeans. Have you heard of spezzato? Fashion designer Brunello Cucinelli is a fan of this trend and explains it as "the mixing and matching of a jacket from one suit with the pants of another, perhaps in the same tone but with a different texture." A deconstructed, unlined, close-fitting jacket describes the Italian man's style rather than a traditional lined suit jacket. This look works well for casual and formal occasions alike.
Italians are pros at combining style and elegance with their everyday lifestyle. To see an Italian man dressed in a suit jacket and a scarf riding along on a Vespa epitomizes life in Italy. Italian men do it with style.