8 Insights into British and Italian Style
As London and Milan Fashion Weeks are around the corner, I thought it would be interesting to look at the key differences in Italian and British style. The fashion houses themselves have a style set by whomever is the current designer but what are the real indicators of style that the average man/woman follows?
Both nations value different things in their fashion choices. Italians quality, elegance and harmony. The British individuality, confidence, colour and fun. I'm sure both make their fair share of mistakes. Why do Italians wear shiny puffer jackets that look like bin bags? And why do the British not wear enough clothes in cold weather?! However the Italians often send their tailors to learn from Savile Row in London and the average Italian can teach us all many things about looking effortlessly stylish.
So let's take a look and please comment below with your own observations!
British people love wearing colour. We like to use it to show our individuality. We prefer not to wear all the same shade and believe a pop of something against a few neutral colours can be really attractive. We find it a bit dull to wear dark colours all the time and people who wear colour well with great accessories are seen as fun and vibrant.
Italians wear a very classic palette. They prefer to steer away from any bright colours. Most shades are neutrals and people tend to stick to lots of blues, grey, camel, and of course black is very popular as it's so timeless. Italians break these up with coordinating jewellery and accessories.
Italians wear clothes that fit their shape and are generally fitted to their body. They don't like flapping trouser legs and baggy tops. Most trousers are straight or slim leg. They have a heightened awareness of what suits them and stick to this.
For a nation that love to disobey any rules, Italians actually conform a lot more than they would like you to know. Brown shoes and belts are worn with blue suits and black with darker suits. Matching/coordinating accessories is seen as a sign of real style and elegance. Everyone you meet or pass in the street in Italy has a good stare (You may have noticed). They can tell if you're Italian or not just by these little style indicators.
British people are happy to wear flowing, non-fitted clothes. Even baggy jumpers and t-shirts are really popular. These do look lovely on the right frame but can also swamp you and make you look a few sizes bigger!
There was a time in the UK when you matched your belt to your shoes and handbag. Those days appear to be gone. Now people prefer to try out new approaches to what looks good regardless of rules. The British admire individuality and confidence over conformity and now 'matching' everything is frowned upon.
4. Over exposure
In contrast to the British, Italians are horrified at how little we wear. Apart from the general idea of not presenting too many of your assets! Italians have a real fear of two things; unhygienic situations and catching cold. You can always tell an Italian in London as they are the ones wearing a puffer jacket in June - with a scarf! So you don't wear flip flops except to the beach or shower. You don't walk around with just a bikini top on to go out at night because this is beach wear. You almost always wear tights unless it's July and a heat wave. The only time you really see this type of attire is on TV where women bizarrely wear evening dresses to read the news and dance around in knickers on Saturday night TV.
5. Animal print
Italians tend not to wear animal print. Maybe a little carefully placed Leopard print but certainly not the range you see now of Zebra print and boldly coloured variations.
Most Italians live in flat heels. Very flat heeled long boots and pumps or court shoes. Some women wear more a block style of higher heel. You don't see many wearing thin stiletto style heels at all. There are always exceptions though. I have seen some women wear heeled sandals around the pool.
4. Over exposure
Some British people, and I say some not all! Are happy to show possibly a bit more flesh than they should! This is not a style thing, but rather bad judgement but it does tend to happen more in the UK than Italy. Certain areas of the UK do go out wearing very little such as a bikini top and skirt in December!! Some tend to wear low cut tops that maybe are exposing a bit too much. There are men happy to go out without a shirt at all in summer. People wear flip flops everywhere, often when it's not summer anymore or not particularly warm. Others go barefoot to walk home after a night out. These are, thankfully! Not a sign of every British person! But equally you wouldn't catch an Italian doing any of these :-).
5. Animal print
We love animal print in the UK! I think it used to have a kind of trashy air to it and now because of that wearing something in leopard print when you are otherwise immaculately dressed is seen as very on trend and a bit sexy.
The British love a heel. A towering wedge, a kitten, gorgeous courts. We've always been fans. However we are starting to embrace the flat heel. I haven't worn high heels now since I worked in an office and even then I would mostly wear pretty flats in the day time. Flat heels have become quite beautiful in the last five years and with that we are starting to take care of our feet a bit better!
7. Sportswear for daywear
I don't think it's even a thing in Italy! Someone tell if I'm wrong. I've barely seen people go to the gym let alone wear sportswear out to run errands. When you leave the house you make an effort to look decent and take care in your appearance. There is a complete opposite mentality to the British idea that appearances aren't everything. In Italy 'La Bella Figura' to make a good impression, is one of the most important aspects of society.
7. Sportswear for daywear
So yes British people love casual comfortable clothes. Not everyone goes around in a tracksuit but it is completely normal to pop out for a newspaper at the weekend and pull on some tracksuit bottoms and a hoodie! We also are becoming huge adopters of running gear for all day wear. It's very common to wear decent sports leggings, trainers and running tops to take the children to school, run errands and get on with every day jobs. All with the intention that as you are wearing your sportswear you are going running/to yoga that day.... How many times that really happens no one knows!
Probably the worst fashion trait on this list is that we love fast fashion in the UK. We embrace a trend, we love a bargain. We like nothing more than popping to a large cheap store and coming home with armfuls of clothes that cost us in total around £40. This is not a great approach to shopping but at the moment it's still real. There are some signs of opinions changing. These type of clothes don't last, we don't know how they were made and by whom. A child, a disadvantaged worker? Certainly not by a firm in our own country that we desperately want to offer more jobs to its own people. Hopefully awareness of this hypocrisy will start to seep into the British consumer's mind...
Italians spend more on clothing and accessories than other Western Europeans and are happy to save for an item that will last them many years, than throw something out every season. They don't tend to follow trends that are too flamboyant but pick things that if bought will last and can be easily incorporated in their long term wardrobe. They tend to have a set of clothes for each season which are good quality and are packed away when summer ends for example and winter begins.
So as you can see we are quite different. British people use their clothes as an expression of their personality whereas Italians tend to dress to look elegant and harmonious with their surroundings and others. Which is better? I personally love seeing what outfits people put together in the UK that I would never have thought of. I like that freedom that no one thinks you're crazy just because you tried something different that day. On the other hand there's nothing more satisfying than feeling beautiful and put together but looking like you haven't tried that hard. Italians are the master at this...
**Obviously these are my observations and there will be many exceptions. No offense is intended should you feel this list doesn't accurately represent your style! **