What it Means to Be “Made in Italy”

My Italian has gotten good enough that I can understand pretty much everything the locals say to me. The only words I consistently miss are the English words that they insert into conversation like french fries stuck in a spaghetti carbonara. WTF is “Nike” when it rhymes with “hike”? “Levi’s” when it rhymes with “heavies”? “Ee Red Hot Keelee Pepper?” But one English phrase comes up so often in conversation, at least within the rag trade, that I can pick it up on the first take: “Made In Italy.”

Cosa Vuol Dire “Made In Italy”?

To understand the meaning of “Made In Italy,” you have to go back to the genesis of the Italian nation, in the second half of the 19th century. Before that, Italy was a geographic concept, but not a political or cultural one. There was no real sense of an “Italian people” in the same way as there was already for the Germans, who formed a nation around the same time. Italy became one country not through collaboration, but through conquest by the Piedmont in the far north, which might as well have been Sweden as far as many Italians were concerned. If you think of Italy as a boot, the Piedmont would be the knee. A knee the rest of the peninsula would feel at their throats.

Citizens of the newly formed Italian state had little shared history, so newly-crowned propagandists created one, often relying on Roman iconography. Over the following decades, nationalistic myths hypertrophied into fascism – also largely a Northern phenomenon. Italy’s defeat in World War II broke this fever, but at a huge cost. The War was, for Italy, also a civil war, mostly pitting North against South, breaking open all the fissures that had been plastered over at the nation’s birth.

Two industries recreated Italian identity following the war – the film industry, and the fashion industry. Film helped the country understand its experience with the war and the poverty that followed. Fashion gave Italians a new nationalistic myth. Its appeals were more to the artistic achievements of the Italian Renaissance than the empire-building of the Roman era, and it helped that the industry’s first successes were in Tuscany, birthplace of Michelangelo. The Sala Bianca in the Pitti Palace hosted the first Italian fashion show in 1951, as well as Brioni’s men’s fashion show, famously the first of its kind, in 1952. Italian designers were able to capture something of the uniquely Italian approach to luxury and craft that had eluded the stuffy couturiers and tailors of Paris and Savile Row. As post-war realist film gave way to Fellini’s surrealist fantasies, Marcello Mastroianni became the guy everyone wanted to look, dress, and act like. And he wore Italian suits.

Allure, but Insecure

By 1980, the industry had grown tremendously, but had become something different. It had mostly moved to Milan, the industrial behemoth of the North. And it had begun to shift its focus from brands like Brioni to emerging giants like Armani and Ferre’. It was at this point that the “Made In Italy” campaign began, with the ambitious goal of branding an entire country. As one politico at Pitti’s “Opening Ceremony” said this year,” ‘Made In Italy’ is not just about selling fashion – it’s about selling Italian quality of life.” “Made In Italy” was intended to convey more than just the country of origin, but elegance, sophistication, craftsmanship – as if Leonardo DaVinci himself had blessed every stitch.

The campaign has been a massive success. Armani remains one of the most valuable brands in all of fashion. Gucci, Prada, and Zegna aren’t far behind. The manufacturing infrastructure that supports these brands is now also used by brands from Huntsman to Tom Ford to Ralph Lauren Purple Label, all of which are Made In Italy.

But the future is uncertain. At the Pitti’s Opening Ceremony, politician after politician announced their full support for the Italian fashion industry, for Pitti as a trade show, and their belief in the enduring allure of Italian luxury. Each one pledged a re-investment in “Made In Italy”. Which is what you do when you’re worried that a good idea’s time is running out.

The worries come mostly from China. A decade ago, there were no Chinese factories that could produce an approximation of Italian goods. Even if you stuck a “Made In Italy” label on a Chinese product, it wouldn’t fool anybody who cared enough to know the difference. Today, that’s no longer true. Chinese workers can produce high quality – they just can’t sell it at a high price without the “Made In Italy” label. As a result, there’s a lot of money to be made by someone who can figure out how to get that label on a Chinese product.

The Competition

A few miles outside of Florence is a town called Prato. The Pitti Opening Ceremony panel referenced it a few times as a major player within the Italian fashion industry, as in “Milan, Florence, and Prato.” I had never heard of Prato, and you probably haven’t either. But it is home to about 3,500 workshops that produce clothing, textiles, and accessories. The majority of people working in these workshops are Chinese.

Nor is it the only population of Chinese workers within Italy. There’s even a Chinese neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples that includes garment workshops. Of course, their work gets the “Made In Italy” label – how could it not?

But other products can get the label too, even if only some of the manufacture occurred inside Italian borders. It may not even take very much work on a product within Italy to make it “Made In Italy”. This is because the percentage of Italian work that goes into a product is calculated based on cost, rather than time (which would be difficult to measure anyway). Since wages in Italy are much higher than in China, you could have most of the work done in China for $4.90, pay an Italian $5.10 to put on the finishing touches, and the entire thing can get stamped “Made In Italy.”

It goes without saying that Italians have no monopoly on craftsmanship or design taste. There is no reason a well-trained Chinese person can’t do at least as good a job as an Italian. One way to view this development is that Italians traded for decades on a promise of inherent superiority, and Chinese workers have now proven that promise false. Not only have they become just as good as “Made In Italy,” they have become “Made In Italy.”

But it’s difficult for native-born Italians to be so generous. For one thing, competition from immigrants eats away at Italian wages and profits. Heirs of businesses that span multiple generations worry that they will have to choose between keeping their companies afloat and maintaining the quality and integrity of their product. For another, if customers hear about Chinese workers in Italian factories, the mystique of Leonardo’s blessing seems to lose its luster. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it’s hard to maintain national pride in “Made In Italy” when many of the workers behind it are foreign. So opinions are strong. Companies that dilute “Made In Italy” by employing immigrants or moving production overseas are considered traitors who don’t respect their product or their heritage.

Protecting the Brand

The backlash prompted some political movement in 2010. The Italian government raided factories in Prato and found illegal immigrants working there. It also passed a law restricting further the products that can use the “Made In Italy” label, including creating a new “100% Made In Italy” label that can be used only by products completely made in Italy.

But this is a losing battle. Illegal immigration is difficult to prevent. Italy’s national laws on product labeling are constrained by EU rules, since there is a free trade agreement among all member countries. The new levels of “Made In Italy” only confuse the consumer and sound defensive. Consider this Pitti booth insistently declaring itself “Absolutely Made In Italy”:

Doesn’t exactly instill you with confidence. When they start using intensifying adverbs, you know it’s bad.
The most encouraging development for Italian manufacturing in the past few years is not new regulations, but rising prices elsewhere. Alberto Merola told me that his glove company, Merola, saw some of its private label clients take production to cheaper countries a few years ago, but now many are coming back. “If the workers are good,” he said, “they get paid, no matter where they are.”

Claudio and Stefano Merola

Even if “Made In Italy” is eventually doomed, it can look forward a long and stately decadence. Right now, Italy is still sexy. Pitti has been such a huge success that the Italian government is trying to replicate it with other trade shows – further support for the Milan show, and collaborative shows with the US in New York and with China in Shanghai.

Italy already exports 62% of the clothing it makes. In the end it may be this that finally dilutes the Italian national brand beyond recognition. Many of the Italian brands I spoke to at Pitti were there hoping to attract Asian buyers. At one stand, I was shown a wall of double-breasted plaid waistcoats, complete with watch chains. After some discussion, they brought out from hiding a very nice plain navy overcoat that they planned to show the Italian buyers the following week in Milan. I wonder how many of the chained waistcoats they have to sell before they stop producing the navy overcoats. How much “Italian quality of life” can you sell and still have some left?

-David Isle

This article was originally published on Styleforum.net on Feb. 4, 2015.

Spezzato: Mixing Suits like an Italian

Spezzato: the past participle of the verb to break in Italian.

Many things can be broken, both in the Italian and English language: a vase, a mirror, a heart, a dream. However, one thing the Americans and the Brits do not break, unlike their Mediterranean fellow menswear enthusiasts, is the suit.

To the Anglophone population, there is no greater shame than being spotted wearing suit trousers without a jacket. This is probably rooted in a conservative mentality that considers suits a garment to wear when the wearer is required to look their best: business hours, ceremonies, or a house of worship. These are all occasions that require a suit, and why would anyone break something that in itself represents following protocol?

Italians, on the other hand, wear suits for leisure time as well as on formal occasions, and the difference is that they take pleasure in wearing them.

I will never forget my biggest college crush, my Latin professor, who used to march into the classroom, throw his jacket on the chair, and then reveal a painfully perfect single break by placing his feet on the desk and shout “BONUM MANE!” to a crowd of fawning students of both genders. You can tell I was a weird kid back then because I always noticed his jacket and pants were never matching, and it wasn’t because he was a young and broke professor who couldn’t afford a trip to the tailor. The man knew style.

Unlike the average American, who typically scoffs at the idea of having to dress up, for an average Italian it’s completely normal to seek that degree of sophistication for even the most trivial of circumstances.

Since dressing up is fun, Italians don’t mind fooling around with their clothes, and that’s how they oftentimes end up mixing up the tops and bottoms of different suits, in order to create new outfits and color combinations. Breaking up your suits is also an excellent way to repurpose those items that you can’t fully enjoy because they don’t meet your degree of satisfaction, or because you simply got bored of them.

In the broader sense of the word, spezzato indicates an outfit in which top and bottom show a bold contrast in either color or material. A white sport coat with peak lapels will create a beautiful spezzato with some blue linen pants, and you’ll still get the feeling of a “curated mismatch”. The same can be said of jeans; Styleforum has more recently started to embrace the charm of sport coats worn over denim, a form of spezzato Italians have always cherished.

Here is a guide to create awesome spezzato combinations that will revamp your wardrobe and awaken the #menswear god that hides inside your closet.

Color is everything

You have probably already noticed, but the best outfits out there are those that flirt with the most intriguing color combinations. You have to train your eyes to capture the shade of blue that goes best with that precise shade of green, because – everyone knows – god is in the details. You technically can just throw on a pair of grey suit pants and a blue suit jacket, and chances are it won’t look terrible. But will it look good? Will it make feel the way you feel standing in front of a painting by Monet? That precision, that careful research of color, should live in our daily life just like if we were crafting our own artwork.

Pay close attention to how you mix fabrics

It goes without saying: you can’t just grab a cream linen suit and your beloved Harris Tweed sport coat and call it a day. Try mixing fabrics – and therefore textures – while remaining within the limits established by the season. Cotton and linen are a beautiful combination for summer and spring, while wool and heavy silk work magic in fall and winter.

Go for contrast

If you’re doing spezzato, you gotta go spezzato all the way. Don’t break your blue suit just to choose another blue pair of pants to go with it. Don’t pick two shades that are too similar, or it will look like you got dressed in the dark after one too many gin tonics the night before (which can be charming, in a way, but we’ll talk about the disordinato effect another time.) Don’t choose two textures that are similar but different, or it will look just as bad. Go for a bold yet tasteful contrast that will tell people that you chose to be bold.

The fit must be consistent

As tempting as it may be to grab your first suit from the college years to take her out for a spin, perhaps it’s not that good of an idea if your current collection of clothes fit completely different. Try to make a clear distinction between slim cut, regular, and classic fit, so you don’t end up looking like you raided your older brother’s closet.

That seems a lot of things to pay attention to, doesn’t it? And aren’t the Italians the people don’t give a damn about looking too good; screw the rules, life is too short not to laugh at an espresso spilled on your shirt?

That is absolutely true – life is way too short to worry about the state of your garments, and this is usually that point where I tell you to forget everything you just read and go wear whatever the hell you like, as long as it makes you smile. But at the same time, life is too short to miss out on the pleasure that comes from caring for your person, and present the best version of yourself to the world that’s hosting you.

That barista you saw yesterday; the one who had the most radiant smile you’ve seen in a while? She deserves to see your extravagant cufflinks peek underneath the jacket you’re wearing while you thank her for your coffee.

Even the asshole that cut in front of you on the 405 deserves to know that the effort you made to look at your best today is also a gift for him.

One of the most fulfilling moments of my life – and you may very well laugh at this – has been walking on a street of Naples and being greeted by two old, impeccably dressed gentlemen, who took their hats off and smiled at me before returning to their conversation.

Those two men left their home that morning – it was a scorching day of July in Naples – looking as if they were going to attend their daughter’s wedding, and all they were out to do was enjoy each other’s company and walk along the seaside. They took two seconds of their time to acknowledge my presence, and they interrupted their conversation to smile and take their hat off for me. They didn’t do it because it was me – they would have done it for anyone else, and that was the beauty of that gesture. I was honored to be part of the bigger picture in the micro-world of those two Italian men.

But what if people won’t notice, you might ask. What if they don’t care?

It is true that we are living in a world that doesn’t train people to understand and appreciate beauty, and that’s perfectly okay. Those two Neapolitan gentlemen couldn’t possibly have known that their gesture would have made my day.

We don’t do it for anyone in particular, just like flowers don’t care if there isn’t anyone admiring them while they bloom. They just bloom, because that’s what we’re supposed to do in this flawed yet beautiful world of ours. We contribute to its beauty.

Whether it is menswear or something else – it all adds up to create the bigger picture. Practice elegance religiously, and become a master of the small things, and people will remember you as well as they do those details.

And if that still isn’t enough, we will always be there to stroke your ego on the What Are You Wearing Today thread on Styleforum.

Aperitivo Style: Dress for Italy’s Favorite Pastime

You might have heard the word “aperitivo” once or twice if you have Italian friends, as it is a common word we use to describe the light snack, usually accompanied by an alcoholic beverage, which predates dinner.

My job today is to describe in detail what aperitivo implies, so that Americans can hopefully adopt this custom, or so you’ll be prepared should you attend an aperitivo the next time you find yourself strolling the streets of the Eternal City.

Like every occasion related to food in Italy, it is a social occurrence more than a fulfillment of human bodily needs. Unlike American’s happy hour, where places offer drinks and food at reduced prices, aperitivo involves the consumption of a drink that comes with a complementary light snack. The purpose is stimulating the appetite while enjoying a conversation with anyone who is accompanying you – whether it is your colleagues after a day of work, a new date, your spouse, or simply a group of friends. The most similar thing that Americans have is that cocktail hour with the complimentary salted nuts.

The Milanese claim they invented the aperitivo, but the tradition actually originated in my hometown, Torino, in 1786, when the owner of a liquor shop invented vermouth, a white wine reinforced with an infusion of over 30 herbs. Vermouth started being served as a pre-dinner treat along with tiny bites – also typical of Torino – such as tramezzini, olives, and salatini.

What should you wear to an aperitivo?

First of all, you need to make sure your outfit is appropriate for the place and the people you’re going to see. If your aperitivo is going to be a quick meeting with your friends at a café after a football match on a Saturday, you can probably skip the blazer and save your expensive cologne for another occasion. However, if your aperitivo is a date or it takes place at a nicer bar or restaurant, I recommend going for a classic but always appropriate combination of blazer or sport coat and tailored pants. You can play with the accessories to add character to the mix, and to make sure you’re properly dressed for the weather. For instance, if you’re lucky enough to enjoy an aperitivo by the seaside, a light silk scarf might come in handy, and it instantly adds charm to the whole look; a pair of sunglasses will protect your eyes if you’re sipping your drink al fresco while earning you extra cool points (because really, who doesn’t look good in sunglasses?)

My only recommendation is to leave the tie at home – or remove it if you’re going out directly after work: it will make people around you more comfortable, it will show them that you value the leisure time you spend in their company, and that you left behind your work day.

aperitivo styleforum aperitivo style styleforum

Blazer: Sartoria Formosa
Pants: Rota Pantaloni
Shirt: Barba Napoli
Hat: Larose Paris
Scarf: Drake’s
Sunglasses: L.G.R.
Shoes: Barbanera

What do you drink at an aperitivo?

Today, vermouth is no longer the only option when you want to treat yourself to an aperitivo. For the summer months, the most popular drinks are the infamous spritz – a cocktail made of prosecco, Campari, and a splash of sparkling water – and the mojito. White wines are also a valid option, especially if bubbly, and typically every place serves its own aperitivo concoction made of fresh fruit and alcohol. For those who choose not to imbibe, alcohol-free options involve juice-like drinks made of fresh fruit and seltzer water.

During the winter months, the negroni is always a hit, along with red wines and any other cocktail the bar offers.

What do you eat at an aperitivo?

Most places will provide your table with free snacks such as olives, potato chips, and tiny sandwiches to consume while you enjoy your drink. In the past few years, many places adopted the concept of apericena (aperitivo+cena – dinner). With the purchase of one drink, the customer has access to a large buffet that is essentially all-you-can-eat. The selection varies, but it usually consists of cheese and cured meats, pizza, sandwiches, deep fried vegetables, salad, and – occasionally – warm dishes such as pasta and risotto. Apericena are understandably quite popular among young people, since they provide a fulfilling dinner and a drink for less than €10.

If you’re not likely to visit Italy in the immediate future, you’ve still got the chance to enjoy aperitivo in the comfort of your own home – just like I do.

In fact, when I moved to US three years ago I made sure to bring with me a few things I could not live without – the bidet and aperitivo were on top of the list. I will not bore you with the details of the former (maybe that’s going to be Jasper’s next assignment for me), but I can provide you with a list of things you need in order to organize an aperitivo at your own place.

  • Drinks. If you’d like to try your hand at bartending, a spritz is a quick and easy recipe and it’s likely to be appreciated by everyone in your group (but do keep a bottle of wine in the fridge in case a guest asks).
  • Food. If you’re not in the mood to prepare tiny sandwiches and warm dishes, you can just buy plain ingredients and serve them in small cups. Grab some olives from the grocery store – and make sure they’re not pitted and they come from Italy or Spain. Serve them with a plate of your favorite cheese and some cured meats, if you can get them fresh the same day (do NOT buy the packaged types that taste like fat-laden cardboard). Potato chips and similar snacks will work just as fine, especially if you don’t intend this to be your dinner.
  • Pay attention to the setting… Even if it’s just a late afternoon snack, make sure everything looks tidy and pleasant to the eye. Food tastes better when it looks good. Use matching cups and the appropriate glasses for the type of drinks you’re serving. For a full Italian experience, treat your table to a nice, clean tablecloth.
  • …and to the outfit. It would be a shame to present such a lovely table to your guests and not look just as glorious.
  • Repeat. That’s right. Aperitivo is not a special occasion. On the contrary, it is a trivial one, like having coffee after school. It is a time for people to get together and catch up on everything that’s going on in their life, whilst consuming delicious snacks and beverages. Having an aperitivo at your own place is also a wonderful way to save money if you’re on a budget, since it’s way cheaper than having a drink out (and you get to choose the music, which is not of little importance if you, like me, are already sick of Taylor Swift’s latest album blasting out of speakers in any public space).

Naturally, you don’t need to serve wine or cocktails each time; you can get creative and make your own, alcohol-free signature drinks for the aperitivo. It can be as simple as seltzer water with an infusion of citrus fruit and berries, or more elaborate using juice and maraschino cherries to decorate, but I would advise against sodas. As I mentioned at the beginning, aperitivo is a social occasion – and what matters in the end is finding the time to enjoy the company of your friends, your colleagues, your date, or even your partner at the end of a long day.

Food and beverages have the magical power to bring on conviviality; the Romans and the ancient Greeks knew this well, and those who could afford a proper banquet would organize the courses around the topics of conversations that they intended to discuss. The banquet described in the Satyricon by Petronius is a perfect example, with one of the courses being a statue of the fertility god Priapus with the belly filled with saffron-squirting cakes and fruits. Or, think of the power of gathering around the table in Plato’s Symposium, where inebriated men praise the god of love, Eros.

If you’re keen on medieval lore, you’ll certainly know that King Arthur made the round table specifically to encourage conversation and deliver a sense of equality among his knights, so that they all could be served equally and sit equally at its board. Each man’s opinion was therefore equally valuable.

Today, our lifestyles brought us to consider our food as merely either a primary need – thereby consuming our meals quickly in order to be able to return soon to our daily activities – or we focus entirely on the food by experimenting with textures, colors, and flavors, or perhaps calculating those macronutrients. Only during special occasions, such as Christmas or Thanksgiving, or other celebrations, do people and food reconnect to create that special experience that our ancestors so deeply treasured.

The good thing is that we can re-educate ourselves to find balance again, and enjoy company as much as food when the two happen to encounter. You can do so by picking up an exotic custom such as the Italian aperitivo, or you can research yourself the method that best suits your lifestyle and interests.

Whatever your intentions are, bring a good attitude along with a nice bottle and tasty food, and you’ll have the recipe for the best time of your day.

Cin cin!

5 Rules to Dress Like an Italian

Before moving to the US a few years ago, I didn’t really have a clear idea of what Italian style really was. I’ve lived all my life surrounded by people with different tastes in fashion, but I never fully realized the impact of Italian culture in the choice of our  garments.

This is valid for womenswear as much as for menswear; I still get baffled when people stop me to tell me that they like my outfit or they ask my opinion on something in a store. When I go shopping with my husband and I start chatting with employees and customers, many ask me: “How can I dress to look like I’m Italian?”

Usually at that point I puff my chest and put on a big smile, and I start listing all the points that I have observed as key to “Italian Style”. Here they are. Take notes.


This is a golden rule for Italians, in menswear as well as in every aspect of life: abandon stiff constructions and extra thick padded shoulders and embrace softer, looser fabrics that move with your body.

You can read this as a philosophy of life: clothes are our shell, and we want to feel comfortable in them in order to have a positive attitude towards life. Freedom of movement is the first step towards expressing yourself at the fullest. Neapolitan tailoring was born to provide an alternative to stiff English tailoring that didn’t quite suit the Italian spirit (and didn’t allow for nearly enough gesticulation).


It might sound strange, but while it is extremely difficult to dress up casual clothes, it is quite easy to dress down formal ones – and the results can be quite stunning.

In Italy, nobody wants to look too formal. There is a cultural element in this assumption as well: Italians believe that people should not take themselves too seriously, and dressing up in a homogenous way will not make anyone look any more interesting to the society.

This leads me to the next point: yes, it is possible to look elegant without wearing only formal clothes.

How? Easy: you dress down your formal clothes. As long as your clothes fit you well, you can play around with them. That’s why it’s important to invest in casualwear just as much as in formal garments: a few, nice pieces to pair with your more formal clothes will be your best allies in creating a classic (and unique) style that can be worn on any occasion. It’s not a secret that Italians love their turtlenecks – and thank God the trend has been picking up in the menswear community – but there are endless possibilities to dress down your favorite jackets and pants: polo shirts, button-downs, chinos, colorful scarves, etc.

Even easier: wear your best suit and lose the tie. Unbutton the first two buttons of the shirt and vai con Dio.

@AlessandroSquarzi is a master in stepping up his style by playing around with casual and even workwear pieces.


“The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love colour the most,” wrote John Ruskin in 1853. Of course, he was referring to colors in painting: he was trying to defend Turner’s scandalous skies, which inflamed the walls of the art galleries in London, where cloudy greys and muddy browns were the dominant colors.

Italians are not afraid of colors. In fact, we never were. Think of the vibrant landscapes of the Macchiaioli, who were Ruskin’s contemporaries, and apply that sensibility to menswear.

You’ll see every color of the rainbow walking in any boutique in Italy – whether it is just a little touch, like the stitching, or a vibrant garment that many Americans would label as a “statement” piece.

Combining color is an art – Ruskin knew that well. The wrong hue could throw the balance off and turn poetry into disaster.

Educate your eyes to appreciate colors that go beyond blue and brown, and you’ll experience the same type of sensuous pleasure a painting by Turner provides: harmony, and a tingling of the soul that will be an inspiration for the people around you.


If you see someone wearing Birkenstocks in Italy, you can be certain it is a German or American tourist. There is a sort of social stigma on Birkenstocks (and on other, similar-looking footwear) as Italians simply cannot accept them as real shoes. They might secretly wear them around the house, while gardening, but there is no way an Italian would ever show in up in public wearing a pair of Birkenstocks.

As a general rule, try not to choose comfort over style. Pick your clothes carefully, so that they are both comfortable and stylish, and keep those sweatpants in the gym bag.

If you’re looking for casual and summer footwear, I recommend espadrilles; specifically, I like these by Zabattigli, which are hand-woven in Capri. The rope keeps the soles of your feet aerated and fresh, and the sleek style is way sexier than those bulky, Teutonic, panzer-looking shoes.


In Italy, people dress well because they like to. Period.

This is something that is very eradicated in me, and that people don’t understand in America. My husband still gets confused when I wear makeup and a nice dress to go buy groceries.

“Why do you dress up like that? We’re going to Ralph’s.”

“Because I like it,” I reply every time, as I spray my most expensive cologne extensively on my neck.

There is a crucial distinction between being well-dressed and being overdressed. Obviously, I would look ridiculous wearing a cocktail dress in a grocery store; but a nice dress, why not? The same goes for men: nobody is saying you should wear your top hat to go to the movies, but a nice blazer and a few, carefully picked accessories will make you stand out for your elegance without looking out of place.

To everyone worrying about what people will think of your choice of clothes, I say: if you are the only one well-dressed person in the room, you shouldn’t be the one feeling embarrassed. Rather, all the others should be the ones feeling shabby and looking up to you.

Occasions shouldn’t make the man. We are better than the sum of social boundaries we are submitted to, and clothes are a way to let our personality spark any time of the day, any day of our lives. Why waste an opportunity to do so, and let trivial actions get in the way?

You might have figured at this point that the Italian Style is much more about attitude than it is about clothes. I’ve read many articles on the Internet that teach you how to “dress like an Italian,” and I think they all missed the point.

There are really no rules when it comes to expressing yourself, and even an extravagant flair can be turned into a jaw-dropping detail that will step up your game. This is the secret of the Italian Style: as long as you like what you wear, and you’re confident enough to pull it off, you’ll be fine.