The must-have item at Pitti Uomo, the twice annual menswear trade fair in Florence's splendid Fortezza da Basso, wasn't something you could buy. It wasn't handcrafted, wasn't bespoke, nor was it a nonchalant little accessory. Quite simply, the must have item for this summer edition was a clean pair of exposed ankles.
Anyone sporting a pair of socks must have had to plead a good case to get in. But then again, socks have never been a favourite with men in this part of the world, not least when the sun is gloriously shining and there's a devilishly smart pair of handmade moccasins or tasseled loafers to be shown off.
But as always with the men of Pitti, style is open to interpretation. This year continued the trend of pairing the formal with casual in the one outfit. The enviable carelessness, or 'sprezzatura' as the Italian's call it, was epitomised by matching a classic double-breasted jacket or suit, wide-brimmed hat and a pair of colourful trainers. It's a look that some Australian men have already experimented with, even if some onlookers think they've swapped their work shoes for the walk home.
The non-negotiable jacket
At Pitti though, no such presumptions are made. While just about anything goes, these men know that to dress well means a fabulously tailored jacket is non-negotiable. As this edition was sub-branded 'Pitticolour', vibrant hues dominated the colour pallete, most notably in flamboyant shades of blue, purple, fuchsia and mustard. As for style, both single and double-breasted varieties were in equal number, primarily matched with cream or white trousers for balance, and big bright ties and pocket squares (often in paisley) for a final effervescent splash of colour.
The other standout was the cream suit, which will be well received by many men in our warm climate. Matched with a plain pink or light blue shirt and solid tie, it's a relatively simple look that never fails to make a mark, even at Pitti where 'simple' usually translates to 'unnoticed'.
Pitti Uomo is credited with reinvigorating dandyism worldwide, which means that no level of grandiosity is ever regarded as too much.
Fine and dandy
But the nexus between the classic style and the flamboyant is the most fascinating aspect of Pitti Uomo. The four-day trade fair is credited with reinvigorating dandyism worldwide, which means that no level of grandiosity is ever regarded as too much. However, while reams of dandies congregate and pose for photographers outside the Padiglione Centrale, inside Pitti it is still very much about the simpler traditions of menswear.
Business is frenetic as more and more buyers – this edition saw over 20,000 – continue to arrive from different parts of the world, but the actual fashion on display is set in a lower gear than that being paraded outdoors. Not that those filling up order books seem to mind, as they cast an eye outside for inspiration for next time.