worked in 2009; works today
Sid: Buongiorno, Parker!
JB: This is timely — you just got back, and you go to Italy for work multiple times a year... what is your mindset when you're packing for a week or two over there?
Sid: Well... I don't know. [laughs]
JB: My guess is that you sort of naturally take into consideration culture when you're traveling, I mean you don't want to be "that guy." So when you're in Italy, how do you blend in? If this is Parker's first time there, can you cast a vision of what he's going to see, style-wise?
Sid: That's a great point... you basically want to ask yourself, "how do I not stand out, but how do I keep my style?" And over there, here's some of what you're going to see on the other guys: a navy blazer, a blue dress shirt, light or dark jeans, and a pair of loafers. Wear that and you can immediately fit in. So I would start there and then dial everything off that look.
JB: Wanna just walk us through?
Sid: Sure. Right out of the gate, I'm probably not taking a suit, but I am taking two jackets. One navy jacket, and one that's got some interest to it. For navy... I am bringing my Ghost Blazer. It is made from our favorite 2ply high-twist wool from England, and is totally unconstructed so it feels like you aren't wearing anything at all. Gotta love a jacket that feels casual but can still read as formal if you need it to. Best of both worlds, and great for traveling.
Then I'm going to bring one jacket that has a little something different to it - maybe a pattern, maybe a color. This silk and linen Italian hopsack has a really beautiful windowpane pattern that will go with pretty much any pair of trousers. If that's a little too bold, I've talked about the benefits of a green blazer, and we've got a No. 1 in a cotton-linen blend that was practically made for vacation. All of these jackets will get a white pocket square. Simple.
As for pants, I'm sticking to the formula of white or natural jeans, and a pair of blue jeans. If you're more of a "khakis guy" and don't really wear jeans, then you could do stone-colored seersucker, canvas or lightweight twill. (But don't let that stop you from adding a little color to the mix, like dusty red or seafoam green.) And then I'm bringing one pair of grey dress trousers so I'm covered if I get invited to something a little more formal. Regardless of the pants, I'm going with a dark brown leather belt, either pull-up or bridle.
Next up, shirts. I wear mostly spread collar dress shirts because they can just double as sport shirts on the weekend, so I'd make that the starting point and go with three or four. (All our dress shirts will look great in more casual environments, just roll the sleeves up.) You gotta take a white shirt, so I'm going with white poplin. And then I'd take a pale blue or pale pink micro cellulare, since you're in Italy after all, and I'd add in a sky awning stripe.
And lastly for "blending in like an Italian" - a pair of tassel loafers or penny loafers (or even camp or boat mocs), and you've got the look.
JB: Speaking of boat mocs, since Parker is going to the coast of Italy, how are you dressing for the boat or the beach club?
Sid: I bring swim trunks on every trip no matter what – and I think our shorts are fantastic so they would fit in any of those boats or beach ”clubs“ you may have running around in your imagination. Or just the hot streets of summer. I’d go with canvas, cotolino or lightweight twill. Maybe throw on an African beaded belt or Polo belt for a little extra pop. And those dress shirts we mentioned will work with any of those, as would a navy or white polo, which will give you that “refined” casual look that for me is so Italian. The other thing I bring on every trip is a chambray shirt. Throw that on over your swim trunks. If you are feeling really Italian you can unbutton it further than usual and see what happens. Or go in a totally different direction, and rock a Guayabera-style shirt like our pal Matt Hranek.
Oh, and maybe this isn’t for everybody, but I like to take white tennis shorts off-court as well – you can channel your inner 70s European/Guillermo Vilas.
JB: What about accessories?
Sid: I like a zip-top tote for the plane but a leather tote would be very chic. Just make sure you break it in a little bit, stateside, before you take off. You want a pair of sunglasses - Allyn Scura Legends are the ones we typically recommend - and I'd get a Timex Easy Reader and put a navy strap on it. Add a bandana in the back pocket and a strand of beads around the neck/under the shirt. And shocker - I'd take a solid navy tie, and one more navy tie, either a club or a stripe. You know, just in case.
JB: Do you have any other packing tips?
Sid: I'd send your traveling shirts to the cleaners and ask them to be folded. Then use your plastic bag as your laundry bag for the trip. And I'd roll up your underwear and socks and use them in place of shoe trees.
One last thing that may not feel seasonal, but trust me: I take a navy fine-gauge cashmere sweater basically everywhere I go. It's great for the plane, plus if you're on the ferry going to Naples or Capri and the wind is going... the sweater is your friend.
Anyway, have a great time, Parker... lead with a smile, aim to blend in, and you'll be in great shape. Ciao!