Now, some people will discredit this and call it “effortless style,” or write it off by saying, “These Italians are just born with it.”
But it’s quite the opposite. There is nothing effortless about their style, or their look. What’s unique is that they put an extreme amount of effort into their look when they buy the clothes, when they have the clothes altered by their tailor, and when they put them on in the morning.
It’s true, Italians do dress better than other nationalities. Even if Rome isn’t the centre of Italian fashion, and they don’t dress as nicely as they do in, say, Milan, the basic level of casual dress is so much higher than the basic level of casual dress in DublinAlthough maybe this isn’t saying much. Before we moved to Rome, I was living in Stoneybatter in Dublin. A place where people would go shopping in their pyjamas. In fact, I saw one girl walking down the street still wrapped in her duvet. My theory behind pyjamas-as-casual-wear is probably best saved for another post. Shirts are more common than hoodies on twenty-something men, and tracksuits are almost non-existent. And Schuman is completely right in what he says about the care that people give to their clothes here. Instead of spending €200 each on a few good-enough suits that will look ratty in a couple of months, Italians would rather spend €1000+ on one fantastic suit that will last them for yearsBut then, they do this with all of their possessions, not just clothes. Theories behind this also best saved for another post.
But there’s one thing that Schuman misses. Perhaps he can’t see it because it’s being obscured by his enormous boner for Italian style. Yes, the men clearly spend a long time making their style look completely effortless, and their shirts are never anything less than spotlessly clean and perfectly pressed - something you rarely see in Dublin, where crumpled, uncared-for shirts are the norm - but you know what? It’s not the men who are putting in the effort. Their clothes are perfect, but that’s not a challenge when you live with their mother who cleans and irons for you and generally make sure your clothes are perfect for youI know this isn’t true in all cases, but as George Clooney says in Up in the Air, “I’m like my mother, I stereotype. It’s faster.”. I see this a lot at the various functions I go to. I see men whose clothes look fantastic, like they just stepped off a catwalk, while I’m there looking like I woke up in a ditch in my suit and rolled along to crash whatever reception I just found myself at. But you can just tell that these men have no idea how an iron works. They just open their wardrobe and see whatever Mama has left for them.
As great as Italian style is, there’s also something to be said for people who usually look like a dog’s dinner and then suddenly put in a bit of work. Yes, Italian style is effortless, but sometimes, knowing the wearer has put in a little bit of effort can look good too.
This post brought to you with a healthy dose of Irish begrudgery.