STICK TO THE TOGA
When in Rome, notice how the natives dress up as Bryanstonites and are outshone by Braamfontein
One of the most successful products from the stereotype factory has been that Italians are obscenely stylish and exude cool with the ease that plants exude oxygen. Their men are allegedly all Dzaddies (deliciously good looking older men) and their womenfolk make knees weaker than a wet tea bag. Perhaps things are different in other parts of the country, but in Rome the stereotype factory has been selling us porky pies. What they need to start manufacturing is the idea that South Africa’s street-style GDP has eclipsed Italy’s.
The average young stylish Roman man essentially dresses like a Bryanstonite, that is, someone who frequents Rockets Lolita. Tight-fitting long-sleeve shirts that accentuate the pecs, G-Star Raw type jeans that do a bad job of looking “distressed” and squeaky clean sneakers. Older men keep it simple with slim fit white shirt, blue fitted pants and nice shoes from whatever passes for Woolworths. Young fashionable women are rarely without a black leather jacket and seem to have been told that their dress code is “Cape Town blogger”, that is, black Doc Martin-type shoes, loose-fitting black blouses and black pants or acid-washed jeans. The older women do a better job, playing with plain white blouses and retrostyle loose fitting pants from across the colour spectrum.
Perhaps the problem is that Italians seem unhealthily obsessed with trying to balance their love for labels with a fear of coming across as gaudy. A strange quirk in European wiring has led millions to do a daily dance where they want to be noticed but not seen. This is apparent in the back alleys of the Colosseum. Where tourists may wear a shirt emblazoned with MOSCHINO across the chest, Romans walk around desperately hoping you notice that the bottom left corner of their bag says moschino. It’s fun theatre.
Romans a la mode are not badly dressed per se, they’re just blandly dressed. They keep it simple and safe. It looks good but it’s not particularly arresting, whereas the use of colour in Braamfontein alone is enough to make you want to buy a rainbow and weave clothes out of it.
Should you want dress like a Roman, you will need:
A leather jacket
Cows must speak of Rome in hushed whispers, as a mythical hell they get sent to when they aren’t good vegetarians. Leather jackets are so common you eventually stop noticing them.
A variety of white shirts
What unfailingly goes well with a black leather jacket? That’s right, a white shirt/blouse/T-shirt. Wear those two on the Via Leonina and combine with a cigarette in your mouth.
Obese Romans are rare so they get along without oversized clothing. It is the one area they have us beat. If you’re going to do safe chic then make sure your clothes fit. Think about it as a wedding ring, not so loose that it falls off and not so tight that you cannot easily take it off when cheating.
One day not on the Roman calendar is bad hair day. Through Jupiter’s blessings and whatever concoctions are hidden in those Alpha Romeo red L’Oreal containers, their hair brings terms like “lush”, “coifed” and “I’d hit that” to mind.