I can't recall if I have ever elaborated on my ethos towards dressing here at The Suitstainable Man. There comes a time when sartorial dressing or being well put together becomes less of a ritual and more of a routine. Your eye for detail still persists, though the object in question is no longer only limited to sartorial clothing. It could also be cycling gear or your everyday clothes.
Anyway, why am I talking about this? Well yes. Whenever I happened to be at a grocery shop running errands, I would always make a remark that the same outfit can be worn both at Tesco/ Sainsbury/ Waitrose (insert your go-to grocer in here — this is not a brand endorsement) and the 'classic menswear' Mecca that is known as Pitti Uomo. The point is that you are not straying far from your (usual) character, trying to pretend as something you are not.
Suffice it to say, I had undoubtedly taken a more laid-back approach this time, despite the temperature being nowhere as sweat-drenching as several previous iterations. And on that note, strap in, and let's break down what I wore for my most recent grocery-shopping run.
The Sartorial Club Summer Gala (Monday)
There is something mind-bending if not baffling to dress like your former self. No, I am not referring to your teenage self with a matching sweatshirt and pants, but more so yourself from just a few short years ago; your earlier sartorial self.
Ever since Covid and the lockdown, the number of times I have spent wearing a Panama hat or fedora with formal tailoring — meaning with a full suit with a shirt, tie, and pocket square — just nose-dived. Whereas I still very much don tailoring 90% of the time, my approach has undoubtedly become that of a minimalist. Say, one statement accessory at a time, rather than three.
Adding to this is also my adoption of bolder and squarer frames for the past two years or so. All things considered, it can feel overly maximalist in view of the close proximity of the two accessories, for most occasions.
Having said that, The Sartorial Club events always call for something more eccentric. It is one of those rare occasions where you would still put in effort in interpreting the dress code and bringing out the extra flair since this is the core purpose of these events. Going for a more maximalist ensemble just made sense on this occasion.
Note that nothing I wore on this occasion is pieces I wouldn't wear on a normal day. Lilac cotton bespoke shirt from Luca Avitable, cocoa-blue silk spot tie from Vanda Fine Clothing, brown lazyman shoes from Gaziano Girling, greenish-grey cotton seersucker suit from The Anthology, and Panama hat from Anderson & Sheppard. All staple pieces on their own.
Day 1 (Tuesday)
This is undoubtedly my most photographed outfit of the week and I am pretty confident it was my paper fan being the actual star of the show. (With great prop comes great... attention?)
Let's examine the outfit more closely. Pairing a sunflower silk jacket with an orange stripe Cuban collar shirt and olive linen trousers isn't a combination I would ever dare of sporting just a couple of years ago, especially considering it goes against every bit of the menswear 'rule' I've discussed on dressing according to one's complexion.
But imagery and romanticism can be powerful, especially one that is soaked with the warmth of sunlight. Powerful enough for one to forgo fundamental considerations like complexion, or perhaps even motivate one to get tanned enough to pull off certain colorways. This low-contrast, tone-on-tone outfit is not one I can pull off during the colder months in London but works just right under the ever-picturesque Florentine light.
Speaking of colors and patterns, this outfit would be nowhere as ideal without the earth-toned, brown-and-white stripes on the Cuban anchoring everything down. It's rather intriguing — I don't think enough has been explained regarding how the complexity of texture and patterns actually creates more subtlety in bold-colored garments. I'd say it has to do with the fact that the colors are not served to the eye right away. With patterns and textures, they add more depth for the eye to process and thus appreciate by layers.
Anyway. The jacket is a secondhand piece from a sample sale. The Cuban is from The Anthology. The trousers are from Natalino. There is no story behind the paper fan — it's just from a gift shop in Hong Kong.
Day 2 - Daytime (Wednesday)
There were two outfits I donned on Wednesday, with the daytime counterpart being slightly less familiar to readers.
While the pink 4*1 DB from Whitcomb & Shaftesbury is no stranger on its own, the way I styled it was arguably more foreign. Instead of a bold-color-on-bold-color kind of look (like I normally would do), I opted for a monochromatic ensemble for the rest of the body.
Steel grey linen trousers from Natalino, an ecru linen shirt from Collarbone, and black grain loafers from Gaziano Girling, alongside a black-and-white silk scarf from a factory sale. Again, the choice of clothing and accessories themselves is nothing out of the ordinary, it is the way that the colors are put together being the peculiar one.
So, why did I wear this despite the ensemble being the least 'sprezzatura' outfit for my usual style? For one, I thought it would be interesting to work my way back to a middle ground and illustrate to folks who are normally less adventurous or confident, how vibrant colors and what is normally considered statement pieces can be worn.
And, quite frankly, the bold color + neutral monochromatic colors combination is not a difficult one to pull off, and this is best explained with an analogy.
Picture yourself watching a play. The latter colors, being so muted and subdued, are like a dimmed theater stage. They may be uninspiring, but they serve the exact purpose of spotlighting the main performer, the bold-colored jacket. Your audience is devoid of any distractions, with only the centerpiece left to be admired.
That is how I would describe the approach.
Day 2 - Evening (Wednesday)
There was quite a strong imperative for swapping to a different ensemble for the second half of the day. Granted, that was not only because of the black tie dinner I had with The Sartorial Club later in the evening, but also, more practically, due to how my daytime outfit had been absolutely drenched from a four-hour long downpour rain.
The outfit itself is one that I recurringly wear for almost all black tie occasions since the latter half of last year. The same Silk Dupion Jacket - The Peak we have worked together to make possible with Arkhé Collection, the same Silk Dupion Bow Tie and Cummerbund we have developed with La Bowtique, alongside a champagne dinner shirt from Collarbone and black barathea trousers from Whitcomb & Shaftesbury.
I suppose what is more interesting to discuss is the notion of repetitiveness in creative black tie. Whereas most people have opted for owning a classic black barathea tuxedo as their one and only black tie ensemble to avoid being recognized as 'wearing the same thing,' I actually thoroughly enjoy the latter. Having a recognizable uniform can be fun and rewarding if done correctly.
Intrinsically, I do acknowledge that not enough merits are warranted for those who take time to refine their approach and own a uniform ensemble. But such is the nature of how fashion is being consumed in today's world, with the paradigm of subscribing to newness as a means to impress being an ever-unshaken belief. When, in all honesty, statement pieces can and should be worn repetitively, as they can be a powerful extension of one's personality and identity.
And that's a conversation for a separate blog post.
Day 3 (Thursday)
My Day 3 outfit holds a special place in my heart as it was my first time forgoing a tailored jacket throughout my Pitti Uomo history. It does take a bit of courage and practice to become more comfortable and embrace the 'street style' element of Pitti Uomo, without looking out of character.
Going back to the images themselves. What you are looking at is an in-development version of the Liling Overshirt, with this one being made out of brown Irish linen. It still features the same silhouette, namely the stand collar, the signature asymmetric chest patch pockets, and the extended Western back yokes.
This time around, however, with layering being less of a possibility, I spent more time wearing the Liling untucked — and I must say I am enjoying the look so far. I can picture folks wearing a perforated vest or a marinière underneath the piece, paired with wide-leg linen trousers, laying on the grass. Very flowy and carefree. In a similar vein, I am not really a denim person myself, but I can see this being paired with jeans and baseball caps during the weekend as well. Again, the possibility is quite limitless.
I haven't decided whether I will be releasing this just yet for next summer, or whether in this colorway. If I do, it will most likely come in the form of a pre-order format again. Do comment down below on what colorway you would like to see for a linen version of the Liling Overshirt.
As for the rest of the outfit, I wore a beige knitted T-shirt from The Anthology, ivory linen trousers from Natalino, an orange neckerchief from Anderson & Sheppard, and espresso brown loafers from The Anthology made in collaboration with Stefano Bemer.
Day 4 (Friday)
Does one wear a tailored jacket for the sheer number of pockets it generously offers? This was a discussion I had with a fellow menswear enthusiast the night before my last day in Florence.
When a late afternoon flight was met with an early check-out time, and carrying a travel tote bag around town could be too much of a hassle, it almost became clear that a tailored jacket with good, reinforced internal pockets is the best solution. (Since I have yet to come across a travel jacket designed for the warmer months that I like enough.) At the bare minimum, a tailored jacket allows you to store your phone, wallet, and passport with ease.
Having said that, it would be misleading if I were to say I chose this ensemble purely for utilitarian purposes. The truth is that these are some of my favorite pieces I own. Take the seersucker DB as an example. It is a product of a two-year-long process of revamping my existing paper pattern with Buzz Tang, tweaking all the important silhouette details, such as the height of the waist, shape and width of the trouser, and most importantly, chest volume, to fit my post-Covid preferences.
Elsewhere, the belt from Paolo Penko (or Penko) is also a personal favorite, given the time I have spent searching for something that is 'just right'. When observing the current microtrends for belt buckles within the classic menswear realm, it's not difficult to arrive at the conclusion that it is saturated with Western-style belts with a small contingency of very simplistic oval or D-shaped buckles trending from the other end. There is not much that is in between, something that is decorative without being overt.
This buckle I picked up from Penko either last Pitti or the one before falls exactly in the middle. As a friend of mine puts it, 'Penko's aesthetic fully manifests the Florentine heritage and craftsmanship know-how without being stuffy. It is contemporarily relevant.' As with most good designs within the realm, it rewards those who pay meticulous attention to detail, unfazed by instantaneously jaw-dropping acts. Much more can be said about Penko, but again, it deserves another article of its own.
That's it for all my Pitti Uomo 104 outfits. 'Til next time!
Photography: Jeroen Noordzij via The Sartorial Club (TSC Summer Gala), Jeroen Noordzij (Cover Photo, Day 1, Day 2 - Evening), Style du Monde (Day 2 - Daytime), Mohan Singh (Day 3 and 4), and The Suitstainable Man (Last Image)