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Italian Suit

Italian Suit: A Class Within

Western suits come in three distinct styles, the American, the British and the Italian.  Of all three the American suit carries the most uniformity and least distinction. The British suit is distinguished and refined but can be a bit restrained.  Of all three suit styles, the Italian suit is the most youthful and dynamic. In contrast to the rectangle structure of the American style, the Italian suit is cut in such a way that the lines pronounce a V shape. The fit of an Italian suit is more form fitting and follows the shape of the body.

The Italian suit did not come into prominence until the 1950s.  Before this rise the go to destination for suits was Savile Row. These suits gained further position with the arrival of Armani in the  1970s, blending sleek fashion with Italian craftsmanship. The manufacturers tend to be private family run businesses with closely guarded tailoring secrets. And this culture of secrecy lends an extra element of mystery.

The basic vibe of the Italian suit is effortless cool. It is as if Wall Street ambition is poured into the body of a laid back surfer. The blend is outstanding.  Italian suits are bold statements of texture and color. Everything fits together. Everything is of quality. The nation that produced Michelangelo and Caravaggio has poured that rich tradition into menswear.

In brief the basic or iconic Italians are cut very slim with a modern look. Jackets can range from two vents to none.  The jackets are of shorter length with a tighter fit and carry padded shoulders, have higher set buttons and flapless pockets. Flapless pockets greatly aid the streamlined look of this style of suit.  The type of fabric in the Italian suit is lighter than in British and American version and this helps give it a youthful appearance.

The most important aspect of the Italian suit is that it is not a product of rigid hierarchy and tradition. Italian suit makers innovate as much as British suit makers adhere to tradition. The use of color, the style of fabric, the compliment of accessories worn with the suit, all of these are in a great dizzy change. Whatever new style there is, occurs in Italy, and principally Milan, first. So we cannot say that there is an Italian suit style and assume it always means the same style of suit. More important than the cut is the attitude. You know it’s an Italian suit by one word, nonchalance.

Michael Snell

Loving father and husband