Style and substance from Pitti Uomo 88
The bi-annual pilgrimage to Florence Pitti Uomo has become the peak of the Italian menswear world. In January and June, a four-day festival of Italian tailoring, style and modern peacocking establish the key menswear tips for the seasons ahead.
Twice a year, photographers, bloggers and fashion impresarios descend on the city to catch the latest in menswear, and sometimes even to go into the show itself and peruse the upcoming collections from brands around the world, ranging from the titans like Brioni and Kiton to smaller, more independent labels like Drake’s, Belvest, Luigi Bianchi Mantova 1911, and so many others, new and old.
For someone working in the fashion industry, focusing on menswear accessories, Pitti Uomo is an essential pit-stop and there were a couple of important takeaways from my time there.
Here are three tips to carry with you into your wardrobe for your next shopping spree.
1. Mix and match
This has been a standard in the Italian menswear world but it’s not often that you see people outside of the country pulling off separate pieces well. The key is in identifying colours that carry notes of each other within them (i.e. a light brown easily pairs with green and navy) whereas trying to match flaming red pants with your blue jacket only works at the carnival.
2. Relax your fit
A noticeable trend that appeared this season is a move towards a slightly more relaxed fit in tailored garments – be they pants, shirts or jackets. For a while, the super fitted look (rightly or wrongly) has been the style and it looks like finally men are realising it just isn't very comfortable to sport a spandex-tight trouser with a button-bursting dress shirt. Or visually appealing. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not trending back into the 90s blanket look, but put a little more room in your pieces and you'll find you just a little better than before.
3. Calm the accessories
Accessories can be an excellent way to showcase a bit more personality, liven up an outfit and help you stand out a little from the crowd. However, if you’ve got a lapel pin, a pocket square, a scarf, cufflinks, bracelets, a couple rings, a necklace, obnoxious sunglasses, a hat, and who knows what else, you’ve put too much into your look. Two to three pieces maximum should do the trick, and don’t match them too exactly: a red tie doesn’t need a red pocket square. A good rule of thumb is to introduce just one new colour into your outfit with a given piece; the rest should reference what you're already wearing, this way it’s not too jarring to the eye.
The key to Italian style is always to have that perfect blend of great fit and cut, with a touch of non-chalance – the Italians call it “sprezzatura”, loosely translating into something like “effortless elegance”. Don’t worry, you’ll get there. And when you do, don’t mention it, just pretend you have no idea how you look so good.