July 05, 2010

Think Italian: Avoid Italy

I was in Italy recently. My ruminations on Italian men are still to come, but in the meantime, since it is forty Celsius outside and nobody knows what to wear, I thought I’d offer a thought or two on Italian threads.

Contrary to proverbial knowledge, the roads led me away from Rome to Sienna, Florence and Milan. Along the way I mentally pressed my nose against the glass of many a tailoring establishment, savouring the finest in Italian couture, and I marvelled at the wealth of quality shoes, in the home of fine footwear. But I neither wet my beak, nor dipped my toes. Oh no. A sage Italian shoe salesman, actually the proprietor of a fine establishment in Montreal, told me before I left that I would shop in Italy in a state of awe but, if I would be sensible, I would buy nothing. He was right. One does not buy Italian in Italy.

Italy is, amongst other irritations, very expensive. In Europe this is not exceptional, but elsewhere one may indulge in the vulgarities of ‘The Sale’, which in Italy seems not to exist. The price is the price is the price. And it is too much. The going rate for a respectable pair of shoes, for example, is anything between 300 and 800 Euros, more if you want a quality pair. Some may not scruple at such a price tag, but to be manly is to be responsible – to know the distance between the price and the value – and to act accordingly. One must ‘go around the block’, and compare. Once one leaves Italy, one finds Italian finery everywhere, at a fraction of the price.

Thus it is with pleasure that I introduce an item of my Italian summer wear, purchased outside Italy, of course. Some of you will perhaps remember my penchant for plaid, and this I couldn’t resist:

The jacket is by Mario Matteo, in a loose-weave linen. The attention to detail makes all the difference. One cannot overestimate quality stitching. One might even be permitted to fawn over an accomplished button hole. The surgeon’s cuffs are a lovely bonus, especially when the heat might give one cause to let one’s wrists breathe. I will not dwell on numbers and figures; suffice to say that it cost no more than 20 per cent of its suggested price.

How pleasant to cut a bella figura. How satisfactory to cut the price!


  1. That is one fine looking coat. It's always a pleasure to wear something you feel was not necessarily a bargain, but at least a fair price.

  2. Quite, my dear Turling. One finds a paucity of fairness abroad these days. Hurrah for fair play!

  3. It should last you a lifetime, very snazzy. Good to know about the prices, since if I make it to Italy this year, I'll shop before I go.

  4. Here's hoping I make it through life with a 38" chest.

  5. Funny. One of my professors would frequently go to Italy and do his shopping there. Though, he did complain about merchants from Florence.


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