Italian men may not be perfect but they know how to dress

You’d think the arrival of Spring with much warmer weather, longer days and the promise of summer might see me in a better frame of mind this week.  Well, not quite.  For along with the change in season comes the sartorial low water mark in Melbourne when it comes to the what men round these parts are wearing. To be honest, they haven’t really got too far to fall.  But there’s something about summer in the city with the gaudy board shorts and cut-off jeans teamed with sloppy tee-shirts with those awful loud designs stamped all over them that really brings me down.  Not to mention more leg hair and beer belly bumps than should be legally allowed.  And that’s before we head south to take a look at what passes for warm weather footwear.  Flip flops, thongs, ciabatte, whatever you call them where you are, unless you’re standing within spitting distance of a sandy beach, well, let’s just say I have an issue.  It all adds up to grown men who think it’s OK to dress like 11-year-old boy, just because the mercury is starting to rise.

When in Rome, modern men might do well to take a cue from the classics...

Uffa!!  So, now I’m good and wound up, I’ve got a good mind to workshop an idea for another ‘live like a local’ Italian experience, especially for male travellers, as presumptuous as I know it might sound.  But here goes: How to dress like an Italian.  In fact I could run this just about anywhere on the Italian peninsula.  Milan for the bankers, Florence for the managers and corporate types, Rome for the politicians and entrepreneurs.  I’d take the beach babes to Palermo and everyone else could do a lot worse than follow me back to Perugia.

Corso Vannucci,  as anyone who’s been to Perugia for even a day will tell you, is like one enormous catwalk.  And crazily, I’ve been watching the very same men work the room for more than 20 years.  Giuro.  As they saunter arm in arm or with hands clasped artfully behind their backs in their vintage brogues and sensible, impeccable coats and colourful scarves, hatted and gloved in line with the season, these guys are the very definition of growing old gracefully.  I love them.  But for the ‘live like a local’ Italian grooming experience, we’ll need to cast out net a little wider.

So here’s the plan.  Weather permitting, we’d sit front row, Anna Wintour style, at Bar Medioevo on Piazza Della Repubblica with a pre-lunch aperitivo, drinking in the passing parade.  Discreetly of course.  In fact probably a day on a day off would be best, with the off days spent on morning coffee crawls of the most elegant bars in town.  The coffee and cornetto peak hour of say 8 to 11 is prime time people watching and in Perugia you get nothing if not a wide variety of looks.  From university types to judges, shop assistants, lawyers, students, brokers and bank workers (they’re some of the best dressed Italians on the streets surprisingly enough) you get them all.  And the best thing is the guys won’t need me round much after a day or two.  Once they’ve got their eye in and start dabbling in a little sartorial splendor of their own.  Then all I’d have to do is wait.  The moment my visitors realise they too have what it takes to turn heads in Italy, my work will be done.  I wish.

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