We All Need A Little Help


Mensflair attracts a diverse and worldly audience, so where better to ask for advice.

Next weekend I’ll be hoofing it over to Rome for a friend’s 30th Birthday Dinner and Party. If things run true to form there’s only a 50/50 chance of getting back in anything approaching good order. But that’s another story – possibly one for a local magistrate.

Anyways, I’ve never been to Rome before and naturally I’m rather exited. Though there is much to see the chance to check out a few of Rome’s independent menswear outfitters seems too good an opportunity to miss. And that’s where you come in, if you’re willing. I have no idea where to begin, so if you’re familiar with the City and know of one or two menswear retailers worth checking out please let me know.

As it happens this isn’t the only issue thrown up by this trip. The dress code has presented an unexpected headache. My friend is something of a showman and while he initially intimated the dinner would be black tie he has now changed his mind. The god awful dress code is now ‘When in Rome…’ which is as unhelpful as it is dangerous.

With such a vague guide my normal rule of thumb is to first judge your company and then judge the venue. But judging your company only works so far as you know who they are. Fortunately I know most of them, but by no means all. Of those I’m familiar it’s a real mixed bag. A few, our host included, are likely to go all out, in the form of fancy dress. However, others will make the least effort possible, which could be anything from a suit to shirts and jeans. The problem here is that I could be wrong on all counts. No one wants to be sat in black tie surrounded by people in jeans and jackets. Conversely you don’t want to be the misery who couldn’t be bothered to make an effort when all are Dinner Jacketed. The e-mails have already begun to fly and no conclusion seems imminent.

Sadly the venue isn’t much of a guide in this case either. Apparently, dinner is at the Venerable English College.

So here are the options. Option one, play it very safe and wear a jacket, jumper shirt and tie. If anybody asks I’ll flip the tie out over the jumper and say I came as Gianni Agnelli. Option two, a dark blue suit, blue shirt and navy blue wool tie – few things are more Italian than that. I’ll add a pocket square for flair. Option three, go balls out, accepting possible embarrassment and opt for the black tie – the host at least would be happy.

But what would you do?


  1. David Buck said:

    I’d attend the diner dressed as most italian stylists do, very slim cut suit (colour choice should be either a light brown, dark brown or charcoal), white or other suitable shirt, no tie, open the top two buttons. The sirt should have the classic Italian peaked collar.

    Hair should also be styled accordingly, gelled and onmoving throughout the occasion, or depending on your style, long and wavy, down to about shoulder level.

    Shoes – something that contrasts well with the suit, the more pointed the better.

    If you get it wrong you will look like a gangster, but if you get it right, you should fit right in.

    January 19, 2011
  2. Peter said:

    Remember that the English College is a seminary; they are all very nice fellows, but a bit of decorum is called for in a religious establishment. I don’t think dressing like an ‘Italian stylist’ is at all right for this one, and would lead to some embarrassment, especially given the fact that you are not an Italian man, and if you were, your mother would certainly not let you go to the English College looking like a pimp.

    I would go for the Mastroianni look per La Dolce Vita. It contains all the necessary features to look elegant – dark suit, dark tie – without being too inflexible. Your dark blue suit suggestion may be the closest to this. You’re a winner in any case – looking sharp if everybody turns up in jeans, and a striking counterfoil to egregious excess if silly costumes make an appearance. And you won’t be embarrassed getting to and from your event.

    January 19, 2011
  3. The Style Council said:

    I´d ask your friend to clarify. “Home made” dress codes are only confusing and they, like you mention, make you risk turning up loooking like a plum.

    January 19, 2011
  4. Eric Bennett said:

    I would do dark blue suit, white shirt, and navy tie. The white would help blend in with formality or the jacket and tie could be removed for a more casual venue.

    Or charcoal suit, white shirt, and black tie (not bowtie). Maybe add an odd vest? And obviously black shoes with either outfit.

    January 19, 2011
  5. otto anton said:

    My Dear!
    BALLS OUT !!! In Italy People with panche and individuality allways will live on the sunny side of Life! Even though you you might end up solo with this style, you are allowed as you come from outside. And the fact that you come from outside with a superior dress makes you interesting and enviable. You’ll be the king of the party. Enjoy!

    January 19, 2011
  6. G. Carreira said:

    Blue suit, no tie but cashmere scarf instead. It’s a more relaxed look, as a fun weekend feel, it’s easier to take off at any time, and very cousy this time of the year.

    January 19, 2011
  7. Dave said:

    @ The Style Council: I don’t know why people get annoyed at vague dress codes. Do you need someone to tell you what to wear?

    this is an opportunity to wear whatever the eff you want. Go crazy! something colourful is good.

    January 19, 2011
  8. J.H. said:

    Blue suit, white shirt, black or navy tie. Brown brogues – sans socks, if warm.

    Better yet: ask your friend to clarify.

    January 19, 2011

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