“Italian summer style” sounds like a wide and varied subject – yet it conjures images that are strongly and easily identifiable. It’s the sun-kissed ideal; a relaxed look that oozes cosmopolitan chic and a workable blend of glamour and comfort.

Italian men seem to have a certain style that sets them apart from the rest of Europe. As has been discussed before by other writers, as well as myself, they carry themselves with an aura that is hard to pin down and define. In this article, I will be breaking down the essence of Italian summer style, so we can take the underlying principles and apply them to our own summer looks. As Madonna once said, “Italians do it better” – not sure she was referring to fashion, but I’ll use it anyway.

Before we start, I must confess that there is a little bit of an agenda in writing this piece for FashionBeans, as I am heading to Italy at the end of July on a beach holiday! So I guess this is partly research material – so I don’t feel really inadequate when I’m over there – and part advice for anyone wanting to get the look. I’m heading to the Neapolitan Riviera (Sorrento and Capri) and I’ve been told it’s quite glamorous, so I need to be up to speed. No socks and sandals I think.

I have touched on Italian style before, in articles on the “Dolce & Gabbana Man” and the “Talented Mr. Ripley”, but nothing exclusively discussing summer wear. We will also take a look at relevant spring/summer 2012 catwalk looks that emphasise the ideal.

Writing this article on a miserable, wet day seems a little foolish, but use it as a little bit of escapism or pounce on the idea the next time we get a break in the clouds…

On The Catwalks:

The Mediterranean was a key inspiration for many of the spring/summer 2012 collections. With soft tailoring, sun-bleached neutrals and cropped trousers taking precedence on many of the runways, I felt compelled to tie this in with my own holiday style plans, and hopefully yours too. Just because we may have particularly erratic summer weather conditions, it doesn’t mean we can’t take on board some Mediterranean dress tips.

As mentioned, the catwalks were awash with sun-kissed looks – creating a feeling of Italian harbour front café bars and comfortable beach lifestyles. As you may be able to tell, I do have a slight soft spot for the Italians, so I’ll try not to slide off onto romantic tangents about owning my own Tuscan vineyard or sailing a tall ship into the Bay Of Naples.

Here are a few key collections from the spring/summer 2012 runway shows, in order to help you visualise the type of aesthetic I am describing. We will be using these as a base for you to explore and develop your own individual take:

Salvatore Ferragamo SS12

Salvatore Ferragamo SS12 Menswear Catwalk

Dolce and Gabbana SS12

Dolce and Gabbana SS12

Z Zegna SS12

Z Zegna SS12 Menswear Catwalk

How To Achieve The Look

Italian summer style is easily defined, yet there is a lot of scope for adjustment and an invidiual touch. However, there are a few things to remember in order to really hone your easy-going Mediterranean chic:

The tailoring is soft; this look is not necessarily about rigidity or sharpness, it is about a reserved elegance that comes from using lightweight pieces that befit the warm conditions. Unlike the Summer Prep style that was highlighted in a recent FashionBeans article, this way of summer dressing has less of an Ivy League feel, and is much less clean cut.

The “spezzatura” factor has to be in the back of your mind. Although the outfits are thought out and well considered, the Italians ooze that swashbuckling sartorial confidence. They don’t need (or want) to follow every single ‘rule’ but they carry it off with confidence. Do not try too hard either; this look is all about ease and comfort as much as it is elegance and glamour. It’s about finding that middle ground.

Fortunately, it is possible for you or I to get this look from the high street. This is handy, because I’m not sure many of us can quite afford a Salvatore Ferragamo jacket. In particular, both Zara and H&M have channelled and embraced the sun-kissed mood with their summer collections at the moment. The former focusing more on neutral colours and washed cottons – reminiscent of last year’s ‘Sicilian Sensuality’ campaign from Dolce & Gabbana – and the latter putting more emphasis on bold colour and lightweight tailoring.

However, my favourite range has to be the current Reiss spring/summer collection. There is a maturity to their summer lookbook that sets them apart from the rest of the high street, without sacrificing the target demographic. It is perfect evening wear that fits in seamlessly with our definition of Italian summer style. With clever use of colour and an excellent cut (as you would expect from Reiss) I will be saving my pennies for one or two garments this summer.

Reiss SS12 Look Book

Reiss Men's SS12 Lookbook

Inspired By Picks
  • Uniqlo Men Premium Linen Jacket AUniqlo Men Premium Linen Jacket A
  • Dolce & Gabbana Slim-fit Linen BlazerDolce & Gabbana Slim-fit Linen Blazer
  • American Apparel Poly-cotton TankAmerican Apparel Poly-cotton Tank
  • 3.1 Phillip Lim White Burn Out Jersey Sleeveless T-shirt3.1 Phillip Lim White Burn Out Jersey Sleeveless T-shirt
  • Reiss Lopez Printed Long Sleeve Jersey Shirt RedReiss Lopez Printed Long Sleeve Jersey Shirt Red
  • Diesel Daikoku SweatshirtDiesel Daikoku Sweatshirt
  • Reiss Beacher Short Sleeve Diamond Print Shirt NavyReiss Beacher Short Sleeve Diamond Print Shirt Navy
  • Allsaints Bramford PoloAllsaints Bramford Polo
  • Acne Atlas Cotton CardiganAcne Atlas Cotton Cardigan
  • Topman Biscuit Oxford Skinny Smart TrouserTopman Biscuit Oxford Skinny Smart Trouser
  • Reiss Venus Garment Dye Chinos Off WhiteReiss Venus Garment Dye Chinos Off White
  • Robinson Les Bains Oxford Court Short-length Jouy-print Swim ShortsRobinson Les Bains Oxford Court Short-length Jouy-print Swim Shorts
  • Asos Chino ShortsAsos Chino Shorts
  • Ray-ban Clubmaster SunglassesRay-ban Clubmaster Sunglasses
  • Topman Grey Stars And Stripes BarrelTopman Grey Stars And Stripes Barrel
  • Rivieras Classic 20 Degree Slip-on ShoesRivieras Classic 20 Degree Slip-on Shoes
  • Topman Hudson Cozumel ShoesTopman Hudson Cozumel Shoes
  • Okeeffe Suede Tasselled LoafersOkeeffe Suede Tasselled Loafers
Final Word

So, what do you think? Does this look appeal more to you than other alternatives, such as Summer Prep?

I think for me, there is more to bring home to England in these looks and outfits than I originally thought there would be. It doesn’t have to be exclusive to the Italians. Take on board some of the ideas and make it your own.

Even if you live where it perpetually rains for the entire summer, dress with the crystal blue Mediterranean waters and warm sun in the back of your mind! Unless of course, it’s freezing out.