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iStyle: Mix but don’t match

Throw caution to the wind and take inspiration from Italy this season. It’s time to colour block your wardrobe, says Lee Holmes

It’s a sorry state of affairs that the  average British man’s grasp of the  Italian language is limited to food and drink – throwing around the words  spaghetti, penne or Aperol Spritz  hardly makes the most of what is, for some, the language of love.

Fortunately, this summer you can increase the amount of pigeon Italian you know by peppering conversations with the word “spezzato”. For the uninitiated, this sartorial turn of phrase, when translated into English, literally means “broken”. Apply this visually to what you wear, and it becomes the subtle art of mis-matching your jacket with your trousers. Sounds easy, right? Especially when Italian men seemingly pull this off with such flair.

Well, as with most things, it does take a little forethought, as this isn’t just a case of throwing on any old jacket with any old pair of trousers. Instead, you’ll need a tailored jacket – preferably unlined which helps to relax the silhouette – the colour and texture of which should dictate how the rest of your ensemble should look. Colour on top means keeping the bottom half neutral, and visa versa. Shirt-wise keep things plain or at the very least keep colours and patterns subtle. The actual trousers don’t even have to be that swish; chinos and jeans are perfectly acceptable. Ties are optional.

Home-grown talent like Oliver Spencer and  Paul Smith championed this look at their S/S13 collections, proving that if you want to dress to impress, tailoring doesn’t have to take the form of a stuffy suit. If anything, spezzato dressing should be seen as a creative way of giving a working wardrobe a whole new lease of life.  Be mindful, though, of letting your colours and patterns get out of hand; you may well end up teetering precariously on the precipice of bad taste.