Business Around the Globe: Office Fashion in Italy
It should come as no surprise to anyone who considers themselves to be even remotely fashion-forward, that Italians put a great deal of emphasis on business dress. Putting on one’s best attire for meetings and other important professional events is of the utmost priority in Italy, and should never be overlooked. This often makes Americans who travel to the country for business a bit apprehensive about what they choose to wear, although there doesn’t have to be any true reason for concern. So long as you have a strong handle on how Italians tend to look when conducting business, you can fit in nicely on your next business trip. The following are just a few important characteristics of Italian business dress to internalize before you set out to do business in the country again in the future, all of which will help you to connote professionalism and respect for Italian tradition. This is article is part of our Series Titled: Business Dress Around the Globe.
Go for a Perfectly-Cut Designer Suit
As one might expect, the Italians put quite a bit of emphasis on designer clothing. After all, there are so many design houses in Italy that it can be practically head-spinning, and businessmen take advantage of this by shopping for reputable name-brand suits whenever possible. Choose those which are relatively dark in color, and go with a slim cut that will help to match your figure and create a sleek, streamlined appearance. Expensive ties made from finest silk are the norm. Typically the Italian businessman prefers larger, triangular tie knots (double Windsor and Pratt knot), tied with a perfect dimple, and paired with a wide spread collared dress shirt. Also, never wear your socks short, as knee-length dress socks are considered the norm for Italian business dress.
A lot of people who pay attention to Italian fashion know just how important shoes are in the culture, and this applies quite heavily to business dress. Indeed, businessmen in Italy are expected to wear well-polished, well cared-for shoes at all times. Wearing scuffed shoes to a meeting would be grounds for a chat with the boss, as it not only connotes unprofessionalism but goes against everything that fashion-forward Italians stand for. As a result, many professionals in Italy tend to have at least a few pairs of shoes set aside strictly for business meetings and other high-profile events, which ensures that they always have a well-polished pair of shoes on hand. Typically the Italian man prefers more delicate leather footwear ranging from fine bluchers to trendy monk-strap, over heavier oxfords that are commonly seen on London’s streets. When travelling to the country, strive to set aside a pair of shoes to wear only while in the office, leaving your casual shoes for walking around town.
Avoid Short-Sleeved Shirts
Unlike in America, short-sleeved shirts are almost never considered to be appropriate for wearing in Italian offices. The business-casual look that has become popular in America detracts quite a bit from the formality that Italy is known for, and thus has little to no place in the country. Short-sleeved shirts should be reserved only for casual wear around town, and should not be combined with chinos the way that one might dress for a regular day at the office in America. Rather, stick with a long-sleeved dress shirt whenever possible in order to show your respect for the culture.
Your Bows-n-Ties.com Team