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May 31, 2007updated 01 Feb 2016 10:45am

Suits You, Signor

By Spear's

Short of actually being an Italian, you can-thanks to a clutch of new London boutiques-at least look like one, says Oscar Humphries

Short of actually being an Italian, you can-thanks to a clutch of new London boutiques-at least look like one, says Oscar Humphries

The summer is rather hard on the English, not least because we hardly get one. June was a washout and July was indifferent. August was better, but few of us were here to see it. When it is hot here, the English aren’t really sure what to do with themselves. Londoners head to grubby parks with sticky grass and chubby secretaries munching their Pret wraps. Those living in the country have it slightly better. The toffs go to the polo and the races and those who wish they were toffs grab a soggy cucumber sandwich and make do with their son’s sports day. The English drink almost as much over the summer as they do in the winter. Enough Pimms and tepid ale make a day spent in rainy Hunstanton seem like an afternoon at Sandy Lane on New Year’s Day.

The heat confuses Brits and we can’t think what to wear when it’s hot. People wear shorts – which should have been banned along with – or better, instead of – smoking. We wear fawn suits, which show sweat patches. We wear, I’m told, sleeveless t-shirts. The larger we are, the more skin we seek to expose. The paler we are, the keener they seem to be to get sunburn or even better sunstroke. The Italians do the summer wardrobe better than anyone excepting perhaps the Bedouin of the Wadi Rum. Italians make womanising, building aqueducts, and dressing for 35 degrees look almost easy in a ‘we are so clever, and chic’ sort of a way. Summer suits by Italians look far less colonial than our boxy three button versions. In Positano and Capri smart playboys wear white slacks or jeans that never seem to get dirty. They wear them with brown, red, or blue shoes that even when scuffed and pale with salt and sun look just as they were meant to. It’s a good look. The best thing about it is that you needn’t wear socks – playboys feel the same way about socks as I feel about Livingstone. They are unnecessary and altogether ghastly.

Niche Italian retailers have arrived in London en masse. Billionaire reared its tanned and grizzled head for a while but has closed down, sparing Draycott Avenue unapologetic bad taste. Berluti on Conduit Street sells stylish shoes that are ‘Euro’ without the champagne-spraying ‘Trash’. Berluti shoes are the heroin of the gentleman’s closet. They are beautiful and addictive and when polished, shine like the back of a very sweaty, very brown Brazilian girl. The shoes are also very expensive. Not Gucci-loafer expensive. Not Botega Venetta expensive but you-could buy-an-internal-organ-in-China-for-less – expensive. Prices start at £500 pounds and go up to about £6,000 for a bespoke pair of riding boots. They come in every colour imaginable – it is possible to have them painted and re-polished in pink or green or even black for £30. They are instantly recognisable to male shoe fetishists and are the sartorial equivalent of an Italian passport.

Italian tailoring has also come to town in the form of Rubinacci on Mount Street. It’s as good as most Saville Row tailors only sexy. They sell seven-fold ties for £120 and bespoke suits start at £2,800 – it’s all made in Naples (three fittings; five to six working weeks). Why go to Italy when Italy in the form of Cipriani, Rubinacci, Berluti and (yuk!) Briatore have come to you.

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