Why are European men still considered the best dressed men in the world?
It’s not like in a modernised world, men in Australia, America and Asia have no access to the same quality goods as your average, classy European. Many New York, Melbourne and Tokyo tailors use ‘Made in Italy’ wools for suiting and non-Italian cobblers even handcraft specialist leather lace-ups from Italian-derived hides.
The answer is simple, it’s all about the European approach to style and the art of putting it all together. Here I’ll show you how to do it flawlessly.
How To Dress Like A European Man
First off, Europeans aren’t suckers for transient, tacky trends. Nor, are they stuck in the ways of the old. Instead, they fuse the best of the two; blending contemporary colours, prints and textures with timeless silhouettes and details. Capesce?
Not being one of the cognoscenti, many have tried and failed. So, without being too pedantic let’s take a look at what it means to feel, and dress, like a European man.
Focus – Individual Clothing Pieces – Not The Whole Suit Matchy Match
You’re not European without something tailored. Individual Clothing Pieces, the jacket and/or trouser contingent of a traditional suit – are ‘Must Have’ items; oozing that European adage of balancing work, rest and play. For summer, a linen or cotton blazer in pastel hues or navy are pivotal. Winter can be a touch more sturdy with lustrous mohair or cashmere jacket, or one in a textural tweed.
White trousers are a staple piece for the European male. They work as a neutral colour that balances out a bold, colourful jacket and gives a cool summer vibe, just by association.
Own It – If You Think You’re Rockin It, You Usually Are
European men own their clothes – the clothes do not own the European man. A tailored jacket or blazer is a must, so it should fit you like a glove, a casa, even. Then, there is the actual execution – avoid ‘last minute’ Zara buys intimating that ‘Italiano look’. The issue lies in appearing ‘owned’ by the clothes; usually indicated by awkward styling.
For instance, an overly matchy match bow tie, boutonnière and pocket square combination or having multiple necklaces, rings and silver chains dripping from your frame. European men don’t wear ‘things’ for the sake of it, so if you’re putting all the ‘right’ things on but it looks ‘wrong’, strip the accessories back and start again. Show those clothes who’s boss.
Dress To Impress – Embrace The European Man Every Day
Jackets and pants are essentially formal attire. However Europeans wear these suit-ish items, regardless of the occasion. Dressing down traditional formalities is the secret.
Pinstripes, micro-checks or all-black suits are typically super formal. But not when the jacket becomes unstructured – that is, softer on the shoulder and not cut quite so close to the body, like its structured brother. The padding and inner linings normally found in structured jackets are removed to give them a relaxed fit.
Dressing the unstructured jacket is simple. Take a button shirt and leave the collar un-bottoned, maybe try a T-Shirt instead of an Oxford one all together. A woven silk tie is a great replacement for the more business, windsor style – and it gives back some much-loved texture to the flatness of a shirt.
Double monk shoes are a peak lace-up this season, sans socks – or lavish polka dot ones if you do decide to go there.
‘Sprezzatura’ in Italian means a certain ‘nonchalance‘ Sound Easy?
It wouldn’t be European Fashion without mentioning Italian Men’s Style – sprezzatura. Thrown about a lot by fashion types, the word describes a “certain nonchalance so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or say appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it.”
It can be harder than it so easily looks, sprezzatura is all in the styling. And looking like you haven’t tried. For instance, when wearing a belt try moving the buckle off-centre and then wrap the leftover leather around the belt itself. Or why not wear leather monk shoes with no socks and the buckles unfastened. Imperfect, yes. But perfectly, so. Both these add individuality to your look without destroying all your hard work.
Don’t Be a ‘Cookie Cutter’ – Stand Out Make A Statement
A blazer or jacket needs a collared shirt? Trousers should be worn with a belt? Shades are to be worn only when it’s sunny? pfft NO. In the name of style, Europeans bend or even break, traditional fashion rules for the greater good of the outfit.
But you have to know the rules in order to eloquently manipulate them; beating fashion at its own game. Breaking the rules in the name of style is the craft of the well dressed man. European men can tell simply by looking in the mirror that what they have done say, with a looser tie knot or a half-tucking of a shirt, is a pure fashion crime – but it’s for good reason.
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