Dressing the Italian Man

Fabrizia and Sergio in front of Donati

Sergio Donati is one of the most fashionable men in Perugia.  Twenty-eight years ago, he opened his eponymous men’s clothing store in the center of the city.  And for the past 25 years, his employee, Fabrizia, has worked along beside him.  Together they dress their customers in beautiful clothes of the highest quality.  Every single item sold at Donati, from shirts and sweaters to shoes and suits, is made in Italy.

We met Sergio shortly after we arrived.  He helped Matt choose a couple summer shirts and jeans back in July (Matt Hearts Shopping).  Since then we’ve become friends.  His small store is only two blocks from our apartment, so we get to see him often.  This week, we stopped by to ask him some questions about men’s fashion for fall and winter.  Using Matt as a model, Sergio demonstrated some of the most dashing Italian looks for the colder weather.  By the end of the day, I wished that Matt could take home everything he tried on.

Inside Donati

Sergio believes that it’s important to buy clothes that will last for many years.  Therefore, he steers away from fleeting trends and chooses classic styles with current, up-to-date details.  For example, this year, men are wearing more color than last fall; therefore, his collection of pullovers extends beyond the usual grey, blue, brown and black.

He began by dressing Matt in a bold suit with a principe di galles (Prince of Wales) checks.  Sergio told us that square patterns are gaining more popularity, so some of his suits have a more pronounced design than last year.

However, it takes a unique client to feel comfortable wearing this much pattern head to toe.

A close up of the Prince of Wales checks. Sergio recommends a flared handkerchief for a casual look; otherwise, a straight edged fold looks nice for a more elegant mood.

Every look needs to experiment with the ubiquitous men’s scarf. The popularity of this accessory is evident out on the Perugian streets during cooler days. All of Sergio’s scarves are made from soft,  lightweight cashmere.

This rain jacket is warm enough for cold winter days. The cream color is an example of how one might see lighter, brighter colors this winter.

Next, Sergio pointed out a couple shoes and coats with a slight military edge.  He dressed Matt in a super soft, grey, wool jacket stuffed with goose feathers for lots of warmth.  Matt is wearing cream-colored pants.  While white jeans are restricted to the summer months, Sergio advises wearing these off-white jeans only in fall and winter.

The Italians use the English phrase “field jacket” to describe this coat.

The military boot. Notice also the darker toe, a detail on many of Sergio’s shoes.

All of Donati’s shoes are handmade by one of two artisan workshops here in Italy.

For a sporty look, Sergio dressed Matt in a stone-washed leather jacket.  There are two zippers on this jacket so you can zip up the second one when driving to feel less restricted and more comfortable. Whenever possible, turn up the collar, he said.  This goes for casual shirts, jackets and coats.

Sergio said the jacket was made from vitello (which translates to “veal” which translates to “baby cow.”)

Add a scarf too.  This is a good view of the off-white jeans.  These grey suede shoes are 100% waterproof.

Next Sergio showed us his grey 2-in-1 winter jacket.  This is perfect for the man who wants some options with the weight and warmth of his coat.  The outer sweater can be unzipped and removed, thereby turning this piece into a lightweight but warm waterproof jacket.

Matt with the entire jacket and scarf.

Unzip and remove the sweater for a different look with the shiny under layer.

Finally, Matt tried on a wool, pin striped, dark blue suit.  As Sergio was tying the tie, he mentioned that Italians like to leave the narrow back half of the tie un-tucked.  It gives the appearance of imperfection.

Sergio purposefully separates the two flaps of the tie creating that “I’m-so-perfect-I-don’t-need-to-look-perfect” look.

Notice the neatly folded handkerchief to complement the formality.

Before leaving, we asked Sergio to recommend his one must-have item.  He said that the best article of clothing you can buy would be a Herno brand jacket or coat.   While all of the clothes and shoes in his store are classically designed and well made, the Herno jackets will last even more than 20 years.  And because they are so comfortable and lightweight, they are easy to wear every day.

And as for a gift, Sergio pointed to the obvious, a scarf.

Sergio paired the bright scarf with a dark blue, double breasted, wool jacket that has the feel of a comfortable sweater.