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What do Italian men wear?

black_eye

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Hello, styleforum experts. I'm an unsophisticated man in his late-twenties residing in the pacific northwest. My closest flirtation with 'dressing above the threshold of gymwear' is a handful of threadbare and thoroughly worn-out Norse Projects chinos and button-downs from my college days. I also own two pairs of meermin oxfords (brown suede and black leather) and a cheap suit from suit supply that gets trotted out once a year. I don't have much more to say on the subject - between the seemingly complete absence of a fashion culture out here and my transition from the military to 100% work from home a year ago, I've faced no meaningful impetus to dress in a manner worth remark in close to a seven years.

Fortunately, that's to change in a few months. My dear wife has elected to attend a culinary program in the Piedmont region of Italy, about an hour south of Turin, which is starting in the fall and should last about a year. My remote position will blessedly allow me to join her. To that end, my father suggested I 'burn everything and get a new wardrobe' when I arrive. My thinking goes that consulting a few experts prior to taking that approach might be a reasonable option too.

I'm sure a litany of 'guides' and threads on an appropriate 'starter wardrobe' exist, but I'm struggling to find them - care to help an incompetent out? And further, does anyone have any recommendations for staples such that I might be able to pass as italian? What does an 'italian staples wardobe' look like? My budget will likely sit at around $3-5k USD.

I want to blend in with the natives. Do I have any shot, or am I destined to carry the mark of a tasteless, parochial american millenial, permanently stunted by constant exposure to patagonia outerwear and blundstone work boots?

Help me, experts! I am desperate!

black_eye
 

TexasToast

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Im no Hugo Jacomet but he lives in Italy and has a great grasp on Italian stye and I'd check out his YouTube channel for some Italian inspired design tips.
 

maxalex

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As a resident of Rome I must report that the days of Italian men swanning around in dinner jackets are long gone. I happen to live steps from the Italian Senate which is the only reason I still see men in suits, most of them ill-fitting.

As you will be living in a provincial town south of Turin, the dress “code” will be even less codified than here in the capital. Really, you will see men wearing every manner of casual streetwear including denim, chinos, sneakers etc even out to dinner.

About the only thing you will not see are Italian men wearing shorts and open-toed shoes in town—both being strictly for tourists, with leather sandals a sure sign of a German.

That said, most Italian men try to look well-pressed, even in casual clothes. No rumples, stains, etc. Appearances are everything; sloppiness is abhorred in both dress and manner. (Public drunkenness is considered bad form so people get drunk at home.)

Note that Italians generally consider any temperature below 70 F to be bone chilling and thus requiring a sweater and scarf to ward off deadly miasmas.

Your budget is tight. I would invest in a couple pair of wool trousers, one for winter and one for summer, some new chinos, a quality navy blazer altered to fit you well, a cashmere sweater, a chunky or Shetland sweater, and several dress shirts. Oxford cloth button-downs are rather American and tend to look out of place here; better would be broadcloth weaves with spread collars and no placket. Ties totally optional. You have passable shoes; consider adding a pair of loafers and some dressier boots with rubber soles for wet weather. I assume you have outerwear; it snows in Piedmont and summers can be foggy and cool.

As for buying clothes here, the annual sales are in January and July. VAT is 22 percent (included in the price), and you can’t apply for a non-resident refund if you remove pricetags and wear the clothes in Italy.

Good luck, enjoy the country, and don’t worry too much about dress codes. Just try to look clean and pressed, you’ll blend right in.
 
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maxalex

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Im no Hugo Jacomet but he lives in Italy and has a great grasp on Italian stye and I'd check out his YouTube channel for some Italian inspired design tips.
Jacomet is French he doesn’t live in Italy. He wears high-end bespoke menswear that frankly is outlandish even in Paris. I happen to like his style but it is not really applicable to the OP.
 

TexasToast

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Jacomet is French he doesn’t live in Italy. He wears high-end bespoke menswear that frankly is outlandish even in Paris. I happen to like his style but it is not really applicable to the OP.
lol France/Italy they all sound the same but thanks for the correction.
 

dieworkwear

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Congrats on the move.

TBH, I don't find the average Italian to be particularly well dressed. I would focus less on blending in with the locals and more on just dressing in a way that pleases you.
 

deanandrewj

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Hello, styleforum experts. I'm an unsophisticated man in his late-twenties residing in the pacific northwest. My closest flirtation with 'dressing above the threshold of gymwear' is a handful of threadbare and thoroughly worn-out Norse Projects chinos and button-downs from my college days. I also own two pairs of meermin oxfords (brown suede and black leather) and a cheap suit from suit supply that gets trotted out once a year. I don't have much more to say on the subject - between the seemingly complete absence of a fashion culture out here and my transition from the military to 100% work from home a year ago, I've faced no meaningful impetus to dress in a manner worth remark in close to a seven years.

Fortunately, that's to change in a few months. My dear wife has elected to attend a culinary program in the Piedmont region of Italy, about an hour south of Turin, which is starting in the fall and should last about a year. My remote position will blessedly allow me to join her. To that end, my father suggested I 'burn everything and get a new wardrobe' when I arrive. My thinking goes that consulting a few experts prior to taking that approach might be a reasonable option too.

I'm sure a litany of 'guides' and threads on an appropriate 'starter wardrobe' exist, but I'm struggling to find them - care to help an incompetent out? And further, does anyone have any recommendations for staples such that I might be able to pass as italian? What does an 'italian staples wardobe' look like? My budget will likely sit at around $3-5k USD.

I want to blend in with the natives. Do I have any shot, or am I destined to carry the mark of a tasteless, parochial american millenial, permanently stunted by constant exposure to patagonia outerwear and blundstone work boots?

Help me, experts! I am desperate!

black_eye
On the "burn it all" approach, Put This On has some good guides for starting a new wardrobe with versatile basics while you develop your own personal style. Article like these come to mind.


Not sure whether this constitutes anything close to real Italian style today, but I think you could do a heck of a lot worse than looking like Stanley Tucci in his "Searching for Italy" show. He never seems out of place or looks touristy, and wears a lot of simple, well-fitting basics leaning heavily on navy and neutrals. I don't necessarily know if there is anything intentionally Italian about how he is dressed, but at least to my eye has more of a European point-of-view than American (i.e. casual spread collar shirts, tonal outfits).


Good luck on the move and enjoy Italy! I can't wait to get back some day soon.
 

maxalex

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Congrats on the move.

TBH, I don't find the average Italian to be particularly well dressed. I would focus less on blending in with the locals and more on just dressing in a way that pleases you.
True indeed Derek, although I would note that the OP's wife will be in a culinary program in one of the world's most famous wine regions. They will probably visit nice restaurants and do vineyard tours. These days one can certainly wear track pants and Yankees baseball caps even to those venues. But one will be treated better, and thus have a more authentic experience, if he makes an effort to look modestly presentable--just as a foreigner who makes an effort to learn a few basic phrases in Italian will be appreciated for that. I think that's what the OP is striving for with his query.
 

dieworkwear

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True indeed Derek, although I would note that the OP's wife will be in a culinary program in one of the world's most famous wine regions. They will probably visit nice restaurants and do vineyard tours. These days one can certainly wear track pants and Yankees baseball caps even to those venues. But one will be treated better, and thus have a more authentic experience, if he makes an effort to look modestly presentable--just as a foreigner who makes an effort to learn a few basic phrases in Italian will be appreciated for that. I think that's what the OP is striving for with his query.
There's a whole world of clothing between "track pants and Yankees baseball cap" and dressing like StyleForum's idea of "Italian" (mostly CM).
 

black_eye

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thank you, @maxalex, @dieworkwear, @TexasToast and @deanandrewj for the thorough and useful feedback! all of your recommendations have provided an excellent baseline to start planning and purchasing! finding the individual garbs pictured below will be my first act:

1642971292747.png


I think @maxalex hits the nail on the head with regards to the courtesy associated with emulating 'native garb'. Beyond the obvious benefit of finally forcing myself to establish a halfway suitable wardrobe, I think abiding by or at least paying tribute to cultural norms are an easy method of engendering trust and comfort - 'kind gestures' and so forth.

I can't say I find tourists and their sartorial tendencies bothersome, but when the intention is to genuinely integrate oneself with a certain community, appropriate costume is an easy place to start!

black_eye
 

maxalex

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thank you, @maxalex, @dieworkwear, @TexasToast and @deanandrewj for the thorough and useful feedback! all of your recommendations have provided an excellent baseline to start planning and purchasing! finding the individual garbs pictured below will be my first act:

View attachment 1742339

I think @maxalex hits the nail on the head with regards to the courtesy associated with emulating 'native garb'. Beyond the obvious benefit of finally forcing myself to establish a halfway suitable wardrobe, I think abiding by or at least paying tribute to cultural norms are an easy method of engendering trust and comfort - 'kind gestures' and so forth.

I can't say I find tourists and their sartorial tendencies bothersome, but when the intention is to genuinely integrate oneself with a certain community, appropriate costume is an easy place to start!

black_eye
I don’t mind tourists or their clothes either, although it’s not hard to dress a little better and still be comfortable. Everyone is a tourist somewhere and, for better or worse, Italy’s economy depends on them. Mass tourism has degraded the experience in some parts of Italy—notably Venice and central Rome—but that would be the case even if the throngs were dressed like Marcello Mastroianni.

The only institution here that still holds a sartorial line is the Church, which forbids bare legs and tank tops in sacristies—although the rule is variably enforced as only the grandest basilicas have any guards.
 

ValidusLA

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Mass tourism is indeed unfortunate in many places. Even the Kyoto temples have tourists climbing over guard ropes and ignoring the posted signs now.

Love your original post @black_eye - there are few places less sartorially inclined than Seattle. I once wore my grandfather's vintage shearling coat there with dark denim and felt massively.

I agree with @dieworkwear - don't try to look Italian. Wear what makes you happy.
 

backtaro

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I had a week trip to few majors Italian cities (Rome, Milan, Florence) and learned that the majority of Italian do not dress like what we are imagining from SF point of view. In contrast to American, I found Italian tend to wear very slim fitting clothes, or even skin tight. You will see quite a lot of people wearing colorful, low rise, skinny chinos/ trousers with logo tee - including older folks, in casual days.

Tbh, you don’t need be stressed out about what are you going to wear over there, just put on the clothes that make you feel comfortable and make sure they fit well.
 

bicycleradical

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Having only been to Italy once, my experience is limited however I do have a useful anecdote. Upon arriving in Milan, I was informed that my luggage had not made it and all I had to wear were some shorts and a polo shirt. The shorts were not well received by denizens of the city and I quickly switched to my chinos once the suitcase was delivered to me.

My experience: don't wear shorts in Italy.
 

maxalex

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Having only been to Italy once, my experience is limited however I do have a useful anecdote. Upon arriving in Milan, I was informed that my luggage had not made it and all I had to wear were some shorts and a polo shirt. The shorts were not well received by denizens of the city and I quickly switched to my chinos once the suitcase was delivered to me.

My experience: don't wear shorts in Italy.
Shorts are particularly toxic in Milan because it is the business capital of Italy and also has limited tourism. Moreover, what tourism exists there is often fashion-driven given the wealth of high-end menswear and womenswear shopping in the city. And from a practical standpoint, Milan rarely gets hot...

There are plenty of great places to wear shorts in Italy, notably at beaches along the country's 7500 km of coastline.
 

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