How should I dress?
It will be cold, the kind of cold to which I am certainly not
accustomed. My first instinct was to go to shops specialising
in ski togs and climbing gear. I gave in to the suggestions of
solicitous clerks and tried sheathing myself in soft, dazzling
suits, but when I donned one of these outfits and took a look
in the mirror, I promptly burst out laughing.
That’s when I realized that, if you’re not an Eskimo,
you don’t have to dress like one. All too often I have seen
seemingly authentic Tyrolese with lederhosen and feathered hats
who, strolling down the streets of Cortina, have given themselves
away in a chance encounter with a friend when they’ve come
out with “uè Peppì ct’è muerte
qua stai?” in pure Neapolitan dialect. The memorable
arrival in Milan of Totò and Peppino De Filippo in the
film Toto, Peppino, and the Hussy should teach us something
about climatic differences and a sense of what’s ridiculous.
The upshot is that I set out to look for normal clothes I could
alter invisibly to make them warmer. Few people know, for example,
that hefty Donegal tweed lined with the kind of heavy silk used
inside coats yields an extremely warm but normal-looking garment.
This idea (and plenty more) guided the thoroughly enjoyable research
that kept me occupied for a long time.
They were unforgettable days, unrepeatable moments, minutes of
pure ecstasy. I have no compunction in acknowledging that the
description a friend of mine applied to me some time ago –
“hedonist-consumer-compulsive” – is not a figment
of his imagination.
In all honesty, saying that I like buying clothes oversimplifies
I have my trusted shop, where my father took me so many years
ago for my first pair of long trousers and that I continue to
It is one of the few places I know where you can buy a dinner
jacket, a warm cashmere pullover or an infinite array of corduroy
trousers. It’s a shop that has the right things in the right
seasons. I have always considered it a sophisticated emporium,
and when I took my son there to buy his first pair of “grownup”
shoes, both of us experienced that initiation rite like the emotional
passing of a “generational baton”.
It is located in the very centre of Rome, on one of those streets
that is almost always shady, and over the years it has become
the emblem of that street. With the hungry gaze of a teenager
standing in front of a bakery shop window, I stood there for ages,
looking at those orderly rows of jackets before pointing to the
tweed jacket I wanted. In a city that is becoming more and more
tropicalized, it was not easy to find what I needed. If I had
been at their branch in colder New York, things would undoubtedly
have been much simpler.
As a result of this delightful search – and much more –
I will have clothes that are normal yet much warmer, and loose
enough to permit the well-known strategic tactic of dressing “in