Brunello, Meet Michael: When Italian Menswear Meets Streetwear
Recently, I’ve been spending more of my time on MFA and a thread about personal style got me thinking about how I would define my style now. After all, this blog has been all about how my personal style has evolved and what I’ve learned from other outlets.
I’ve thought more and more (especially because of the discussions here of MFA clones) about what personal style is and what mine is. I started getting into style with Jordans and Nikes early on in high school and it just naturally progressed to higher quality, more tailored clothing. Though I do dress casually put-together (chinos and button-downs are my not-quite uniform) as I’m a Midwestern college student, the style I shoot for—and, start to employ more and more—is essentially “Old Italian dude with a streetwear attitude.”
That just happened naturally. The guys I look up to most in street style and elsewhere are Italian men with their slim fits and casual tailoring. Same reason why my favorite brands are Brunello Cucinelli, Isaia, and LBM 1911. It’s the cut and the fabrics and the way it’s all pulled together with this sense of incredible comfort and style at the same time.
But, on the other hand, I got into fashion/style originally through streetwear, and though I rarely actually wear full-on streetwear fits, I like to inject a little bit of the attitude into everything I wear.
At the same time, I also draw influences from lots of other arenas: Americana hunting/outdoors gear is probably the third most important in my personal style, but trad/prep (I did go to a NE boarding school) and just about everything else catch my eye from time to time.
Since I started blogging and reading fashion blogs, it’s always been about me cultivating my own style—and trying not to mimic other people’s. That doesn’t mean Clarks DBs, dark wash denim, and OCBDs aren’t at the core of my wardrobe, I just like to have my own style that I aim for.
What I find most inspiring about the style of “old Italian men” is how they blend refined tailoring and casual comfort into looks that are both put-together and completely natural looking. Italians do especially well in mixing bold colors and patterns—especially non-navy blues. For a lesson on pattern mixing or aggressive (but not silly) color combinations, there’s no place better to look.
Streetwear, on the other hand, is what I grew up with. It’s what I hear in my headphones as I listen to Jay-Z, Pusha T, and (especially) A$AP Rocky. Blending them is a challenge, because, in many ways, they are on opposite ends of the style spectrum. For me, it’s not necessarily about borrowing items from either style and mashing them together so much as it is me gathering influences from all over. I could wear an outfit entirely made up of items that would be considered Streetwear, and still take color and pattern influences from the old Italian gents I so admire.
I am becoming more adventurous and taking more risks with clothing purchases these days, as I feel my collection of basics is well rounded and mostly complete. No doubt, my normal outfits fail to mirror the styles I admire so much. As a 20-year-old broke college student, that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Maybe in a year’s time, my closet will match my aspirations a little better. Or maybe those stylistic aspirations will be completely different. Only time will tell. For now, I’m happy mixing ideas borrowed from the likes of Lapo Elkann, Gianni Agnelli, and the Brunello Cucinelli lookbook with Michael Jordan, the aforementioned A$AP Rocky, and the guys I see on MFA.