I interviewed Vincenzo Attolini (above) back in January. This post is therefore a little late, although the advantage is the clothes will be dropping into shops now, unlike other pieces from trade shows where you have to wait at least six months to be able to buy anything.
In the picture above he is scrutinising the work on my Cifonelli DB jacket. He found it quite fascinating.
Vincenzo Attolini sells ready-made and made-to-order tailoring under his brand Stile Latino. It is made in Naples and has a distinctive southern Italian softness. The default is no shoulder pad – there may be one, but only on a slightly more formal jacket.
The style is younger than the more famous brand, Attolini, run by Vincenzo’s brothers Massimiliano and Giuseppe. (Vincenzo split off 10 years ago.)
The colours of Stile Latino are stronger, the cuts are tighter, and the jackets are shorter. There is also more emphasis on texture, with a surfeit of shantung ties and casentino coats. Nothing outlandish for those of us used to buying sartorial clothing, but definitely with an accent on youth. In Vincenzo’s words: “It must be sexy, it must be tight!”
I can see that description putting off some readers immediately. Certainly, Stile Latino won’t be to the taste of traditional bespoke customers. But there may be a market among younger readers for whom bespoke Neapolitan tailoring is the most formal thing they would ever wear – and the rest of the time want something with a distinctly Italian style, and a strong quality level.
For one thing Vincenzo is keen on is quality. Despite being a younger-orientated brand, he doesn’t spend any less on materials than his siblings, or on trimmings – canvas, melton and so on.
Indeed, for him this is where many of the Neapolitan brands have gone wrong in the past 50 years. “My grandfather [also Vincenzo Attolini, the founder of the Neapolitan style of tailoring] stripped down the traditional English suit. He took out the heavy canvas, the heavy shoulder pad, and made it shorter and closer fitting.
“But he still left the fundamentals there. There was always some form of shoulder pad, and a linen chest canvas if not a horsehair one. The mistake many Neapolitan companies have made is that they strip out everything, all padding and all canvas.
“This can make a jacket very shapeless. The only way to get away with that is to have a heavier material – in an overcoat, for example. And in any case you have to cut the jacket closer as you take out the structure. It has to use the body more.”
Not everyone would agree that a lighter-structured jacket has to fit closer to the body, but he’s certainly right that many RTW Italian brands skimp on the canvas, creating pretty shapeless garments.
Interestingly, Vincenzo is forthright in only using handwork that he thinks is worth the money. He doesn’t use hand-sewn buttonholes, for example, because he considers that the vast majority of hand-sewn buttonholes in Naples look worse than the best machine-sewn ones (he may have a point there).
The problem with quality materials, and a good-sized collection, is that Stile Latino is expensive. Suits are around €2600, with an extra 20% for made to measure.
This might be the biggest issue. At that price many with access to a Neapolitan tailor will end up going bespoke. And those looking for the style ready-to-wear might go for cheaper brands like Eidos Napoli or Sartoria Formosa.
Vincenzo did offer to make me a jacket and overcoat made-to-measure, in order to demonstrate the value of that service. So we’ll have first hand experience soon.
Stockists (not available on the Stile Latino site):
- OGER – Amsterdam
- PAUW – Amsterdam
- VAN DIJK – Waalwijk
- DEGAND – Brussels
- NITZ – Brussels
- VERDI – Antwerp
- BRAUN – Hamburg
- MOELLER & SCHAAR – Frankfurt
- DIEHL & DIEHL – Frankfurt
- UNUTZER – Munich
- LODENFREY – Munich
- WEINBERG – Zurich
- CARIOCA – Geneva
- AXEL’S – Colorado
- GEORGE BASS – New Orleans
- HEIDLIGH’S – Dallas
- COWELL – Denver
- UNITED ARROWS
- PUPI SOLARI – Milan
So interesting that the brand is not available in any of the major cities of either Europe or the US (London, NYC, Paris etc.) Why might that be?
I’m going to say a lack of multi-brand menswear shops. It’s a good point
Yeah, this brand sports a style that speaks to me, but is nowhere near to be found. I have been thinking about Thom Sweeney is a possible first bespoke in London, given their house style seems to be a more youthful one, with shorter, tighter jackets, still with a good fit. That is of course, unless I go to Napels, to Elia Caliendo or so. Which would you say fits this bill the most? Is TS more structured perhaps?
Yes, Elia will be much more like Stile Latino. Worth bringing along pictures of the cloths/cuts you like though always
Hi Simon, slightly unrelated topic but have been trying some elements of style that you have written about such as the splitting of tie blades, unfussy approach to pocket squares etc. which I like. Could you possibly do a piece on Sprezzatura or nonchalant style including style tips – it would be much appreciated.
Sure, good idea
I have never commented on this blog even though I am a regular follower, but I can no longer hold it in: even though I am Italian, I neither care for nor understand “sprezzatura”. I can understand the desire to appear nonchalant, but in reality sprezzatura is a form of hypocrisy – one takes a great deal of trouble to create the illusion of not caring about one’s appearance. Besides, it’s UGLY – split tie blades, crooked collars, missing collar stays, unbuttoned button-down collars – UGH! If a master tailor has taken the trouble to create beautiful clothes, it is disrespectful to wear them in an intentionally slovenly manner. Let’s be honest – all of this on this site care about clothing and about our appearance – why pretend that we don’t?
I meant to say “all of US on this site” in my previous post – I got carried away in the heat of the moment!
And one more thing: the Hardy Amies’ quote so loved by sprezzatura fans:
“A man should look as if he has bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care and then forgotten all about them.” – it’s nonsense. If we really followed that advice, by the end of the day our tie knots would be limp and loose, our pocket squares would fall out of our breast pockets, the hem of our pants might be stuck on the buckles of our monk strap shoes, etc. Looking good takes a little work – live with it!
I would say that most of those examples of sprezz aren’t actually sprezz – in that they shouldn’t be obvious but they clearly are
I will say this with all due respect (really!) because I love your blog and I have learned from it – aren’t split tie blades a little obvious? They practically scream “Look at me – I’m different!” Please forgive me for getting hot and bothered about a minor detail – I just needed to get this off my chest!
Not at all Dan.
To readers of this blog, perhaps. But not to 99% of the people that see me everyday, including all my work colleagues (excepting those that also read the blog)
A machine-sewn buttonhole on a jacket or a coat of high birth is blasphemy. I hope that not all of his clothes bring this feature.
They do. Though I mildly disagree
Nico, funny I noticed the same thing. I actually thought it might be a deliberate strategy to avoid the markets where bespoke Neopolitan is easier to come by. Assuming I understand the term correctly, there are quite a few good multi-brand menswear shops here in NYC (Epaulet, Unis, Odin, perhaps even the Armoury) that could stock VA, but (per Simon’s point) what would be the point when you can get a bespoke Neopolitan jacket for virtually the same price?
Agreed sir. It may be a deliberate strategy to own these other markets where they might becoming a leader in style. NYC and London is already crowded with other more famous brands/tailors which may make it tough to make ends meet.
The market for his RTW jackets, like those of Kiton, Attolini, etc., is for those who are not prepared to wait and have the money to pay. Surprisingly there are a lot of people in that grouping and they like being given their ‘style’ rather than having to create it in combination with a tailor. It’s not for me – nor probably many on Simon’s site – but for some people three months is gratification deferred too long!
As for the discussion on sprezzatura I believe the philosophy behind it hails from a desire to make one’s appearance look effortless. I mean, if one could choose between having what he does look effortless or strenuous I dare to say that we all would choose effortless.
Thus, those who actually have sprezzatura spend little or no time thinking of it. They just have it.
I think any man who would like to achieve this much sought for quality in his style and appearance would do good in getting advice from the women in their lives.
I don’t think you just have it. But it takes a patience-stretching amount of time. The time for you to genuinely forget about it
If one follows the logic of effortlessness to its reductio ad absurdum, then the most effortlessly cool people are the slackers in t-shirts and pajama pants – what could be more effortless than that?
It’s looking good effortlessly…
Agree with Dan Ippolito. It’s now becoming farcical to see some of the ‘nonchalant’ takes. If someone is spending more time to make a tie knot / blade length look unkempt than a basically, quick fashioned ‘school knot’ would take then surely the whole thing has become pointless. It also smacks of fussiness ironically.
Also, the double monk, with the top strap undone. Sorry but….
It’s like trying to be ‘cool’ it’s something you are either deemed (by others, not yourself) or not. All this nonchalant sprezzatura is much the same – it’s an accolade others will bestow upon you, if relevant, “looks great in whatever he wears and however he wears it”. It is NOT something you can try to fool people into: “wow, that guy still looks sharp even though his shoes are half done and his front tie blade is so much shorter than the back blade” etc. You are only fooling yourself that this looks in anyway ‘unforced’ at that point. It can be spotted a mile off.
Surely the aim is to ask “How do I look”, rather than “How do others react to how I look”?
If I spent my life worrying about how others judged me, I would be a quivering wreck by now. Fortunately, I am not quivering.
I agree with J – sprezzatura smacks of fussiness, and therefore it is intrinsically self-defeating.
Smacks to whom? It all depends on the audience.
In response to Dan; the opposite to nonchalant (even if it is studied) is to look like a martinet or worse a US Newsreader (think Ron Burgundy!). Over dressed begets a predictable stiffness and formality that is in opposition to style. With so many people wearing suits according to the fairly narrow expectations of menswear the avenues of personal expression are limited. In the UK items such as colourful socks (John Snow – the anti Ron Burgundy) or pink shirts are used. Its not just a UK thing – ad campaigns for major US menswear brands (Polo, Hilfiger) now show sporting inspired loose collars and untucked shirts etc. – normal for casual wear but now bleeding into formalwear. Any period has fashion but those that carry it off the best do it according to Amies’ rules; Grant, McQueen, Cooper, Dellon, Connery etc. all looked great but the clothes were secondary to the force of their image – they didn’t look like primped menswear models, but they did have Sprezzatura!
I will try to address your points one at a time:
1. Ron Burgundy is a red herring – he is supposed to be ridiculous.
2. Cary Grant always looked neat as well as elegant, and, if anything, his style became more “pared down” as he got older – no sprezzatura there.
3. Steve McQueen’s sportcoat-and-turtleneck outfit in Bullitt would be considered “old-mannish” by devotees of sprezzatura, whereas I think it is classically sporty as well as neat.
4. Sean Connery is not a particularly elegant dresser in his private life – but of course we are all thinking of his James Bond persona. Connery’s Bond was classically elegant in an unfussy, pared down sort of way – no crooked ties or untucked shirts, for sure!
5. The actors you listed had masculine charisma (with the possible exception of Alain Delon), which is not the same as sprezzatura. The guru of sprezzatura was Gianni Agnelli, who came across as a decadent dandy.
6. Present-day menswear models look ridiculous in their disheveled, ill-fitting clothes. I can’t imagine any reader of this blog aspiring to the GQ/Esquire look today.
The ‘sprezzatura’ digression is an interesting one.
IMNSHO (in my not so humble opinion) it depends on your vision of style rather than the use of this particular word.
Do Amies’ rules correlate with the studied primp of a Pitti Uomo Dandy?
Personally, I think not. By trying way too hard, those guys come off as being quite unnatural and their look personifies fashion rather than style.
By contrast, if you look at the easy élan of a McQueen, Ferry, Delon or Nighy it all looks quite effortless.
Wether it is effortless is a secret closely guarded by the practitioner and so it should remain. Less is more.
Sprezzatura: “a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it’’. So you can only achieve this state if nobody knows that is what you are doing.
And this quote attributed to a fashion icon (Beau Brummell) might have some relevance to this subject: “If John Bull turns around to look at you, you are not well dressed; but either too stiff, too tight, or too fashionable.” The former might be Dan’s newsreader & the latter the guy with the split blade and the unfastened shoes…
Ars est celare artem! This is a concept that has been around for a long time… Someone who appears to have dressed themselves by inflexibly following a set of rules gives an air of being too studied (as do the Pitti dandies at the other extreme). This is more to do with being comfortable in what you are wearing rather than appearing to be worn by your clothes (Bruce Boyer is a great example of someone who seems to fit into the former category). The unbuckled shoes etc are just mini fashion trends, destined to last a season and then disappear …
Expansion on my previous point. Any points I am making are at the Sprezz guys not Simon BTW, as I didn’t even notice the tie knot as it turns out. I’m commenting more on the #Tumblr people with tie configurations a 6 year old primary school lad would be embarrassed to step out the house with.
I should clarify that I am a fan and customer of both schools of tailoring, the ‘relaxed’ Southern Italian look and the super-formal British. So this is not someone British denouncing softness or crumpledness etc.
I just – personally – prefer the honesty of a fully laced up or buckled shoe, or a tie that is largely tied well, or a shirt collar that stays under the jacket. If it happens that these things go awry throughout the day, then so be it. If I’ve spent God knows what on the complete outfit, let’s not kid ourselves, that all of a sudden I can in anyway portray authentically to the outside world “I don’t care” about how I look. These things will be revealed in the way you remove your jacket and where you place it. No disrespect to anyone who wears Primark or River Island etc, but I’m guessing they wouldn’t come into the office and start putting it onto a specially made broad-shouldered cedar-wood hanger 😀
So why on earth would the same person try to imply through some artificial manner that he ‘forgot’ to buckle his shoes or put his jacket on over his shirt properly? Sorry, that was belied by the fact that you wouldn’t give your bespoke cashmere jacket to the waiter with the rest of us at the restaurant earlier at lunch today. #Inauthentic.
Last anecdote. I was in overseas in Sprezz country and was chatting to a guy who had the collar point folded back on itself a little and peaking out over his jacket. His close colleague (notably a woman) came up to him and said “Hey Mr. Sprezz” and started fixing it in the way your mum, sister, wife etc might. To her mind, of course, it should sit under the suit. He said “Oh, put it to like on purpose this I don’t like things looking too perfect, leave it alone”. He then fixed it so that the collar point was folded back on itself again.
To me this is the perfect illustration of where the whole aesthetic goes wrong – a well meaning close friend etc will always point out the things that stick out, if at that point, you say a) “Thanks!” and correct it, you’ve voided the whole point. or b) “Well actually, I’m intending it to look like this to give an air of nonchalance” you now look like the fussiest man in the world.
You mention your “work colleagues” in this comment section.
Do you have a full-time gig outside of blogging and gallivanting about the globe in search of sartorial treasures? If so – what is it?
I do, I’m the product manager for the legal group at Euromoney PLC, a big trade publisher. That has been my career – journalism, editorship, and now product development
I couldn’t agree more! One final example: a few years ago David Letterman used to wear double-breasted suits on his nightly talk show. He would conspicuously fasten the inside jigger button and leave the other buttons unbuttoned, so that the jacket flopped open. I don’t know whether this was an attempt at sprezzatura or postmodern irony (sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference!), but it was so ugly and so distracting that I don’t remember hearing a word he said when he dressed like that.
Agreed. That last guy you are talking about J is probably the definition of someone who doesnt even begin to understand the meaning of sprezz. That is, making an effort to look sprezz is quite the opposite of what it means, which also his lady friend so demonstrated.
Also, clarifying on my last point, I agree completely with you Simon that sprezz can be achieved with time. It was these guys who have achieved it with time that I referred to when talking about those who “have it”. Its like watching a world-class piano player. Their playing looks so natural and effortless, yet the time it took for them to get there is nothing shy of 2 decades mostly. Style should be no different. It should be worn in to look effortless with trial and error a natural part of the process.
Wow – best comment thread in ages. Isn’t the point about this forum that we each find our own way – what suits us, what we feel comfortable with and to present ourselves to the world accordingly.
I see Lino and co. all sprezz’d up and I really think that for the most part they carry it off brilliantly. Put me in it and I know I’d look a right loser and it would be writ large on my face too. I have found what I like – what I think suits me – and this forum and the ideas presented help in order to see what’s out there and what may work – take the bits you want and leave the rest.
Permanent style only works when it’s your personal style.
Over the years that I’ve followed this blog my style has evolved and I can see how Simon’s has evolved too – I can’t say I’ve ever seen him in a pair unbuckled double monks though – in spite of that tie blade thing!
I really like the Hardy Aimes quote you shared, Simon, a few weeks ago: “A man should look as if he has bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care and then forgotten all about them”. It’s one thing to dress well; it’s quite another to make it appear second nature/effortless. I think that either of those two aims will be more difficult to attain by seeking to wear things in a sprezzatura manner – that said, dressing well is ultimately down to the individual wearer’s art (which, lest we forget derives etymologically from ars, artis – skill).
Regarding the ‘Sprezzatura’ discussion above, I’m surprised that nobody has really mentioned the importance of WHO is wearing this look. It’s the MAN who has charisma – not his clothes. If he’s brilliant in his field (and dresses well but untidily) one may assume he has taste but is not overly concerned with his appearance. It’s why dandies lack any real style – the clothes wear them, rather than the opposite. Some pompous dandy posing at Pitti Uomo can never achieve ‘sprezzatura’. The men who do have it have probably never heard of it.
Dan, I think the confusion here is around meaning; if you align ‘Sprezz’ with Pitti then perhaps you are correct. However for me it is a deeper tradition of men dressing well without looking as if vanity had been at play – hence the nonchalance. All men mentioned from were the epitome of this. Grant is probably one of the best dressed men in cinema history (on and off screen) – in those days actors often wore their own commissioned suits (North by NorthWest – Kilgour), Connery used Dimi Major (ex partner of Douglas Hayward) as private tailor – so Connery was elegant on and off screen. McQueen remains a style icon (see Hollywood and the Ivy Look), Dellon, particularly in France/Europe, is seen as the essence of style. As for Cooper, many an article has been dedicated to his English-inspired tailored look. I’d include Agnelli, a deeper reading of his life will point to practical rather than ‘Dandy’ reasons for his his style (given his wealth and social circle it could be argued that he showed reasonable restraint!). All had ‘Sprezz’ in the classical sense; comfortable, at ease, well dressed but without obvious vanity or unnecessary posturing. The issue here is the ‘new’ sense of the word.
Very interesting comments! Nigel and Anon, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. In this Internet age, sprezz has become associated with certain quirks (like unbuckled double monks) that are fine as personal quirks on stylish men but look rather silly when somebody apes them just because they saw a picture of Lino at Pitti. (Perhaps this is a bit like Simon’s concept of needing to understand the rules to be able to break them.)
Despite that, I still see no problem with the original concept of sprezz; namely to look effortlessly put together. Yes, of course, it is a bit of an oxymoron to put more effort into looking effortless but nobody wants to look like they tried too hard. This contradiction is summed up in a quote I love (which I believe was Beau Brummell) “I will spend two hours tying this tie, in order to make it look like I did it in two minutes”. Either way, I would be very interested to hear Simon’s thoughts on ways to look more effortless (while perhaps avoiding some of the Pitti cliches).
Concerning sprezzatura, Castiglione said:
I have found quite a universal rule which in this matter seems to me valid above all other, and in all human affairs whether in word or deed: and that is to avoid affectation in every way possible as though it were some rough and dangerous reef; and (to pronounce a new word perhaps) to practice in all things a certain sprezzatura [nonchalance], so as to conceal all art and make whatever is done or said appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it.
Are the arms also cut slimmer/tighter? I ask this because I have an athletic body tight and certain Italian brands can just be impossible to purchase online. I discovered this with Caruso, which I found incompatible with my body.
They are slimmer, yes
What is your opinion on Orazio Luciano (La Vera Sartoria Napoletana) in terms of quality and price?
Good on both scores – although I don’t have anything from them so can’t really comment directly
Beautiful Neapolitan garments
MY GOD!!! The first tailor to be frank about the pros and cons of handwork etc. While I love handmade button holes, most cannot make a tightly woven one that is sharp and beautiful. Most are relatively loose and worthless. I like this brand’s thinking. After reading this, I will have to purchase one (as I am a clothes whore) to have in my collection. Thank you very much for your articles!!