Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Italian Denim

As Americans we treat our denim shirts almost like jackets or overshirts. We wear them open over swimsuits or big and loose with shorts. Nothing wrong with that, and J. Crew is making a killing on that idea right now. However, the other way of working denim is the Italian way – super slim sexy denim shirts. They are almost always darted or seamed and worn with that Italian flair that reads formal and casual at the same time. I’m not saying which version is better, but just highlighting options.


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  1. Monika Poppy

    August 4, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    they both look so italian



  2. JFK Jean

    August 4, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    Very crazy that you mentioned this b/c I'm actually wearing a denim shirt w/ red/navy knit tie, skinny jeans and tan loafers. Its awesome how many different ways and how versatile this item can be for males. Eat your heart out ladies!!

  3. Anonymous

    August 4, 2009 at 5:48 pm


  4. Ghostboy

    August 4, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    Those shirts are pretty amazing-looking! A far stretch from the stiffly bleached ones from the 90s, I truly like them, especially paired with khakis.

  5. R4TH

    August 4, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    these guys may have been watching too many american movies

  6. Style Scanner

    August 4, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    Good God that second look is amazing. There's a whiff of 70's manliness to the shirt which the neckerchief counters beautifully. Perfect.

  7. Cassiopeia

    August 4, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    so handsome!

  8. Antonio Barros

    August 4, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    They look great!

  9. andres delgado

    August 4, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    Like almost everything the way to wear depends on the mood, flair, body type etc and all can be done with style. None the less I consider this way a more sleek, tailored way, I have a denim shirt that i just started re-using because i used to feel denim shirts looked too 90's, this makes me think I'm on the right path.

  10. JadeRose

    August 4, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    ahh the italian man…he can either get it so very right or so very wrong. On this occassion I am going to say it works well :)


  11. Bookworm

    August 4, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    I love that look! Very elegant!

  12. Erik Hoff

    August 4, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    Denim and khakis-never thought of that, but it looks like it makes sense.

  13. hi-d

    August 4, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    With a slender build as his, I think this look works!

  14. theTrendyDwarf

    August 4, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    I agree with you Sartorialist so much! I actually prefer it the Italian way much more than the layered American way and I think that is just my Italian side kicking in to my sense of style. I love the first picture so much! I love your work and plan to attend your book signing tour because I am buying the book!
    check out my trendy blog!

  15. thatsorad

    August 4, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    Great Gatsby! I like the first shirt with the extra pocket. HMMMMM wonder if I could pull this off too….

  16. Anonymous

    August 4, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    sorry to be anal retentive, scott, but those shirts aren't denim. they are chambray. you can tell because when the sleeves are rolled, the inside of the material is just as dark as the outside, unlike denim which is often darker on the outside. also chambray is much lighter. still a good look though. cheers.

  17. betsy

    August 4, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    love how the first guy has his pants just short enough so we can all see his killer sneaks. <3

  18. Anonymous

    August 4, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    you're so right about the size of denim shirts, i recently bought a chambray shirt at j. crew and had it altered to be more fitted. It looks a millions times better.

  19. Anonymous

    August 4, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    Both of these men have considered outfits however, I don't think that I am on board with the chambray shirt with khaki chinos. nope, I'm afraid it is almost irritating for me. It's like a cowboy and a dock worker had a fight. nope.

    That said, the pieces are smartly fitting.

  20. Anonymous

    August 4, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    please can you put me in contact with italian boy #2. he would work well as my very own accessory…


  21. Holly @ Maison James

    August 4, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    I like the small scale of the 2nd one – a fresher take on country & western. Nice male accessorizing too – I always dig turquoise w/ denim.

  22. Anonymous

    August 4, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    is that buckle hand-painted? interesting…cool if so

  23. Yamila

    August 4, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    Perfect!! I feel in love… the 2 pic: He's very handsome! lol.

    I loev your blog, you're so talented.
    In Argentina (more in Buenos Aires)we used: "re copado" that mean, (or as to said): "so good", or "so cool"… So, i have to said: your blog is RE COPADO!!

    I can't wait for have your book. =)

    (my english is not so good, sorry!!)

  24. Baek

    August 4, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    very cool looking

  25. Anonymous

    August 4, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    please someone tell me where i can find that first shirt with the low pocket! the color, the cut, so nice. i'll even accept tips on where to find those khakis!


  26. hc

    August 4, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    The majority of comeback denim tended to be dark, as if to test its re-debut. It's nice to see lighter denim here, with white denim already following suit.

    The khakis are almost too expected, and I'd like to see the denim contrastingly paired with lighter/easier fabrics, particularly shorts.

  27. demetric

    August 4, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    i have the nicest marc jacobs tux blue jean shirt loves it with the chinos…like the scarf…have a vintage levi shirt with a tad bit of a sheen think i will wear it tomorrow thanks…

  28. One Man's Style

    August 4, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    i have been wearing this look all summer… i want credit haha…what can you say but italians do it right!!!!

  29. Christine

    August 4, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    they look great! I especially like the bracelets on the second guy.

    PS – Most of your pictures speak for themselves but I also love it when we get an explanation to go along with them :-)

  30. Lauren

    August 4, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    Guys shouldn't wear cropped pants.. no matter how good looking or great their style is. Just my opinion.

  31. Anonymous

    August 4, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    The thing is that Italians are delicate. I'm a woman and a size 0-2 (but tallish) in North America, and I recently had a huge laugh whilst buying a Giro d'Italia cycling jersey in Italy. My friend, an Italian man and fellow cyclist, stopped me when I pulled the (men's) XS shirt off the shelf. "Italian small is not the same as your small." (Of course I know my own size and the shirt fit). Still, it highlights a point: both the men and women tend to be fine-boned and baggy shirts (clothes, really), often look silly on such people (especially men). And of course there's always the plain fact that…Italian men are yummy beyond belief. :) These pics are making me swoon…

  32. american dream

    August 4, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    we can not live without jean

  33. Maverick Malone

    August 4, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    ohh, yummy! love love love.

  34. Anne

    August 4, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    i like the way the first guy tucked in his belt, not the neat conventional tuck, but a slide it under tuck. I wonder if it was on purpose.

  35. The Stylist

    August 4, 2009 at 9:24 pm


  36. noelakadjtambour

    August 4, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    the first picture, the guy is a cross between young serge gainsbourg and dustin hoffman but italian

  37. Jane

    August 4, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    Are you forgetting that most middle and western American's have been wearing button down, tucked in denim since their were cowboys?

  38. jlt

    August 4, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    I couldn't disagree more about the very american denim shirt. Have we forgotten Cool Hand Luke? The cowboy? Maybe you should visit cities in America besides NYC and you would see a lot of Americans wearing denim shirts in the "Italian way".

  39. Carissa

    August 4, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    Very sexy, yet still classy. I'm loving this look for men.

  40. anAlbanian

    August 4, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    denim is American.

  41. The Voguette

    August 4, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    i love love loveeee denim button-ups!

    The Voguette

  42. Anonymous

    August 4, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    The first guy is J.Crew, 100% (well, maybe button up one more on his shirt, and we're there). The rolled khakis and sleeves, canvas shoes… The concept of what J.Crew WANTS to do with chambray shirting is exactly what these Italians are doing. In fact, much of their styling with these shirts is combining them with a sportcoat. However, as the above gentleman commented, they've not really gotten the proper sizing down. I'm not sure how people are wearing their chambray from J.Crew, but I can tell you that this is what they're going for. Look no further than the men's shop for proof.

  43. Anonymous

    August 4, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    There is nothing sexy about denim shirts

  44. parisgirl

    August 4, 2009 at 11:36 pm

    yum…i'll take one of each…

  45. Philip

    August 5, 2009 at 12:03 am

    i like the guys cuffed pants in the first pic and that shirt on the second guy looks great

  46. crush'ed

    August 5, 2009 at 12:09 am

    Both of them look lovely. Very handsome. But the 2nd man won me over with the turquoise bracelets. I rarely see men with hand accessories other than the obvious watch.

  47. robbie

    August 5, 2009 at 12:18 am


    i don't dig the way they are wearing the denim at all. So mamby pamby and European.

    The Italians make bikes look cool, and scooters, and they make a damn good suit… but denim, thats American you can't femme it all up and tuck it in and don a scarf; a bandana maybe if it is some b western or you've stumbled into the 1800's otherwise EWW.

    not a fan of either of these looks.

  48. Anonymous

    August 5, 2009 at 12:35 am

    is the barn door open in the first pic?

  49. echoes25

    August 5, 2009 at 12:36 am

    looks good

  50. Camille

    August 5, 2009 at 12:45 am

    I think the contrast of slacks and converse make his look.

  51. JamieDOTBall

    August 5, 2009 at 1:17 am

    denim shirts are great..is that the same guy or do they just look remarkably similar? its a good look for both of them / him !

  52. Rob

    August 5, 2009 at 1:20 am

    i like everything except the shirts x :o)

  53. Emma Howard

    August 5, 2009 at 1:37 am

    Jim Thompson,the Sidney, Australia apparel designer whom you featured is a perfect example of a man wearing classic, looser denim that I find extremely appealing.

    "Three over One" looks like a great brand of clothing. I wonder if it is available to Americans?

  54. Anonymous

    August 5, 2009 at 2:05 am

    Looks as though both are wearing Rolex watches

  55. Bonnapart

    August 5, 2009 at 2:06 am

    viva italia!

  56. Stephanie

    August 5, 2009 at 2:20 am

    I like these looks a lot. I think I would urge caution to the gents eager to try the look; just as with jean pants the wash and cut of the shirt is the difference between classy and strange. Or heck wing it, often strange and brilliance go hand and hand.

  57. Fvad.

    August 5, 2009 at 2:27 am

    nothing accents your a man's skin color ''specially if you are a brunet'' like a blue denim/chambrey shirt. And nothing intensify this macho look more, but a pair of Aviator shades ..

    I like..

  58. Anonymous

    August 5, 2009 at 2:34 am

    Sexy and hot!

  59. The Stylista

    August 5, 2009 at 3:27 am

    well that's a hairy chest. lol



    August 5, 2009 at 3:30 am

    Just gorgeous. simple. love it.


  61. Noémie K

    August 5, 2009 at 3:37 am

    I love the style of the second one, simply chic*

  62. Elle J

    August 5, 2009 at 3:39 am

    The second guy is gorgeous! Love the casual look of the denim shirt.

  63. Anonymous

    August 5, 2009 at 4:12 am

    I love your comment about Italian formal/casual. People are always saying they have trouble doing "smart casual" – well, here's the men's solution. These guys look so good, comfortable but presented. I'm actually seeing Steve McQueen in both.

  64. *~Yvonne~*

    August 5, 2009 at 4:14 am

    I'm loving the combination!

  65. Aimee

    August 5, 2009 at 4:15 am

    so casual and elegant. who knew a denim shirt could be so classy?


  66. Pearl Westwood

    August 5, 2009 at 4:32 am

    The Italians definately do it better, in England that first guy would have been forced by the insane rules of British man-fashion to wear socks with that!

  67. bérénice

    August 5, 2009 at 5:00 am

    des photos sublimes comme on aimerait en voir plus souvent!

  68. Sarah

    August 5, 2009 at 5:59 am

    i dont know.. but that is reminding me so much of terence hill back in the classy bud spencer-films.

  69. Clare

    August 5, 2009 at 6:29 am

    Congrats on the Vogue UK piece. So they think you look like a member of the Incredibles?! Style-Superhero!

  70. Anonymous

    August 5, 2009 at 6:32 am

    The second man is so handsome!
    UM BACIO from Buenos Aires (Argentina)

  71. FASHIÓN (con acento)

    August 5, 2009 at 6:45 am

    The first guy remembers me SERGE GAINSBOURG!!!
    His face, his casual style…

    Besos desde Batcelona.

  72. Ruth

    August 5, 2009 at 7:02 am

    Wow the chambray shirt is so handsome!

    Ruth @ Matches

  73. Ashley

    August 5, 2009 at 7:43 am

    I like the first version. Its funny that you credit J.Crew with that idea..I bought a men's chambray shirt at J.Crew and I've worn it similarly to how you describe it.


  74. Autour de toi

    August 5, 2009 at 7:58 am

    The first man look to Serge Gainsbourg!

  75. Bird

    August 5, 2009 at 8:19 am

    Well said,I think these shirt/pants combos look great on these particular guys. The latter with turquoise bracelet looks more "put together" but perfectly relaxed, all the same. What a perfect fit!, I like the rolled up pants and sneakers on the first one, too..

  76. Anonymous

    August 5, 2009 at 8:21 am

    Does anyone know where the shirt the first guy is wearing is from, what brand? It looks fantastic

  77. Kristin

    August 5, 2009 at 8:51 am

    I especially like the first one. So effortless and cool, yet stylish. Love the rolled up pants and sneakers, makes me think maybe he took his lunch at the beach and dipped his toes in before heading back to work.

  78. tree

    August 5, 2009 at 8:51 am

    The top look = The exact look I've been wearing this summer.

    Rolled up light coloured trousers, no socks+ a denim shirt gives the perfect casual look.

  79. Anonymous

    August 5, 2009 at 8:57 am

    I love it! I retired my old oversized early 90s denim shirts years ago. I recently bought a very tailored one that I pair with a crisp pleated white skirt and heels or with my suits. I love the contrast of casual/rugged with the formality of silks and linens. Perfect summa time.

  80. Jane (Melbourne)

    August 5, 2009 at 9:21 am

    Ouch! The worst part about this is that they are in Italy and I am in Australia. I wanna touch! Pic 1 is blessedly gorgeous in an "I want to ruffle up your hair even more kind of way". I'd like to undo Pi2 2's top button and loosen his scarf… ah that's better. Now where were we…

  81. Fashion&Such

    August 5, 2009 at 9:34 am

    These look amazing, I looove/

  82. Anonymous

    August 5, 2009 at 9:40 am

    Yeah, these definitely aren't denim; they are chambray. I have this debate with the BF quite often, until a gentlemen working at the J. Crew Liquor Store in NYC finally settled our debate: they are in fact two distinct fabrics.

  83. eHaberdasher.com

    August 5, 2009 at 9:53 am

    I vote for the Italian way!


  84. holly

    August 5, 2009 at 9:55 am

    I still wear my chambray pieces especially with turquoise jewelry…some are 20yrs. old… and I'm a girl…I'm betting on the fact that it will become a fashion "TREND" once again:) I guess I need to start shopping my closet

  85. Mike

    August 5, 2009 at 10:47 am

    GREAT look but for me these photos show just how overworn Ray-Bans are right now (especially the Wayfarer).

    They've suddenly lost all credibility.


  86. norawoah

    August 5, 2009 at 11:21 am

    hellloooo gentlemen!

  87. G10

    August 5, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Good ideas on how to wear denim shirts.
    Pitty they're too hot for my weather

  88. Nouvelle Vue

    August 5, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    I just love how classy they look. You couldn't have said it any better when you called it "formal and casual at the same time".


    August 5, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    Love this style! However I wish the top photo guy would button up two more…too much "sexy" thought was put into that and then doesn't become so sexy anymore.. :/ bummer

  90. ctstyle

    August 5, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    I love both!

  91. Amalia

    August 5, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    I love the rolled khakis – I can only hope Australian pick up on this look and dump their ill-fitting, skinny jeans and too-long shorts 'toot suite'.

  92. Erin

    August 5, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    very true. I love the classic americana feel of a totally casual denim shirt; it just epitomizes complete relaxation and wear-anything confidence. I rock a really oversized one all the time. but this MO is something I NEVER see down in atlanta and it is refreshing and fantastic…and STILL relaxed. classic in the way only an italian man can be.

  93. Yoli

    August 5, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    I like the shirts, the pants not so much.

  94. A. Stranger

    August 5, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    WoW. These looks are inspiring. So relaxed but well constructed. I especially love the turquoise bracelet in the second photo.

  95. Christina Dee

    August 6, 2009 at 12:17 am

    yummy yummy yummy.
    style, attitude, hair.


  96. Arm Candy on the Avenue

    August 6, 2009 at 2:48 am

    love this look… american guys could take a lesson. sorry guys.

  97. Mens designer clothing

    August 6, 2009 at 4:11 am

    Love the glasses

  98. Baloneyandco

    August 6, 2009 at 6:07 am

    I dont know if someone ever said it, but the first guy looks like Serge Gainsbourg.
    Moreover his outfit is awesome!

  99. Anonymous

    August 6, 2009 at 8:23 am

    Does the man in the top picture have his flies undone?

  100. Jean Floressas des Esseintes

    August 6, 2009 at 8:30 am

    This is so "old Gainsbourg" chic…

  101. Hawa

    August 6, 2009 at 9:51 am

    as you mentioned in the post below…i'm blatantly going to copy these looks come spring…men's fashion is sooo much more inspiring at the moment!

  102. sisters in black frocks

    August 6, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    my god i love this look!

  103. Man Over Board

    August 6, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    Been a denim shirt wearer for the last 10 years. Nothing like a broken in pair of jeans, that goes double for the shirts. Love em

  104. Dr.Kraft

    August 6, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    i love these look and the way italian guys were denim shirt…it´s so cool and beautiful…

  105. Hanne

    August 7, 2009 at 6:28 am

    Holy macaroni! Love the combination of the blue denim, sunkissed skin and great hair.

  106. toto

    August 7, 2009 at 9:26 am

    i really like the details like his belt, his "scarf" and his bracelet… i think it's a perfect outfit..

  107. An

    August 7, 2009 at 11:25 am

    The second look is definitely the better. In the first, the shirt is open a couple buttons too many, and the pants are cuffed too high, which conveys almost a mason-ly, I-just-finished-painting-someone's-house attitude.
    In the second, the man is not only clean-shaven, but the neckerchief adds a certain class. Also the pants are more structured, and the turquoise bracelets are just plain accessories. Plus, the man is good-looking, which helps infinitely.
    Is it just me, or does he look a bit like Robert Downey Jr.?

  108. travelbug

    August 7, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    Great explanation of the European take on denim shirts. But if Europeans are going to do the fitted look, they need to be less squishy-looking than these guys.

    Just sayin'.

  109. miss a.

    August 7, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    I would love a fitted denim shirt. But I think this look is better on men than women. For femmes, it could either look super chic or just jail cell worthy.

  110. holly may

    August 7, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    It's one of those looks that make you wonder whether any outfit in years to come will better it: true style.

  111. Rafe Totengco

    August 8, 2009 at 9:16 am

    I love how a denim shirt can be dressed up with an ascot. I personally love doing this and thank God for vintage ascots because nobody makes them anymore.

  112. Mohammad

    August 8, 2009 at 11:52 am

    really like the blue shirt on the top photo, it makes good reflection on the tanned skin.

  113. Anonymous

    August 8, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    the first man looks like S. Gainsbourg

  114. Anonymous

    August 8, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    damn. this guy is hot.

  115. Üdo Ümami

    August 9, 2009 at 10:42 am

    omg. italian güys are *hilarious*

  116. Mr.G

    August 10, 2009 at 7:29 am

    There are guys who wanna be cool and there are guys who are simply cool! Great job!

    Blog it >> http://fashionmeetscologne.blogspot.com/

  117. Xristopher

    August 10, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    Nice cut. My wife gave me one she bought in Paris years ago. It is almost identical to this one. So unlike the shapeless garbage-bags made in the USA.

  118. Jeni

    August 10, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    I love how soft this denim looks. Very summery.

  119. Philippine

    August 11, 2009 at 7:30 am

    the first picture looks like serge gainsbourg, it's thrilling!

  120. Northern Sky

    August 12, 2009 at 7:06 am


  121. Anonymous

    August 14, 2009 at 10:41 am

    love the turquoise bracelet!

  122. TheWorstKidInBoston

    August 14, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    The whole slim denim shirt/chino thing is very Ralph Lauren…right down to the turqoise beacelet

  123. Anonymous

    August 16, 2009 at 10:13 am

    You like it or not like it but…I am trying to be a bit objective here, you can't pull it off the so-called "Italian style" if you are even just a little bit not so slender. With the risk of sweeping generalization, the style fits the Italian/European physique much more than that of Americans.

  124. Anonymous

    August 17, 2009 at 7:32 am

    the first guy is uber cool!

  125. Anonymous

    August 17, 2009 at 8:08 am

    Pulled this off during the Spring in NY but the " american " way … and funny thing is Ive been thinking bout getting the shirt tailored to be more fitted for the fall ….. thanks for the visual


  126. Anonymous

    August 17, 2009 at 3:25 pm


  127. Ljerka-Susanna-Lukic

    August 23, 2009 at 6:56 pm


  128. Anonymous

    September 8, 2009 at 11:40 pm


  129. Belle

    August 6, 2017 at 4:26 am

    Tailoring denim takes it in such a different direction…


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