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Sartorial Know-how23 September 2021

Style Lessons From Gianni Agnelli

Esquire deemed him to be "the best-dressed man in the history of the world", and it's not hard to see why

Considered the “Italian John Kennedy”, Giovanni Agnelli — the founder of FIAT and the undisputed ruler of Italian business between the 60s and 80s — was not only a mere industrialist. A fine intellectual and lover of sport and women,  for the Italians of the time, he was a reference to be inspired by and to even imitate, gifted with an enviable taste in style, food, and more. In short, Gianni Agnelli was, and arguably continues to be, the most authentic icon of a totally Made in Italy elegance.

Esquire deemed him to be “the best-dressed man in the history of the world”, and it’s not hard to see why. Across his lifetime, Gianni Agnelli subverted the rules of fashion creating a very personal style, composed of a fascinating mix of audacity and innate elegance. In one example, he tended to combine suede boots with formal suits and always showed off the watch on the shirt’s cuff.

Looking to be inspired by Gianni Agnelli’s iconic outfits? Here are some tips to follow.

The tailored suits
Double breasted Holland and Sherry Prince of Galles Double breasted Holland and Sherry Prince of Galles

Melillo 1970

Double breasted Wool Prince of Galles Blazer

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Gianni Agnelli loved wearing tailored suits, custom-made for him by the best tailors in the world. He mostly opted for soft colors, and preferred gray for the day and navy for the evening.

When it comes to fabrics, the “Lawyer” often sported pinstripes, suits in Prince of Wales or Solaro, a unique, medium wool fabric ideal for mid-seasons.

The casual attire

For his boat trips to Capri, Gianni Agnelli preferred casual but refined outfits. The garment par excellence was the long-sleeved polo shirt, usually made of linen or pipeline with mother-of-pearl buttons. The colors, needless to say, were often blue and white.

As for the trousers, in addition to the classic linen models, Gianni Agnelli was a big fan of jeans, which he had learned to get comfortable with while in the US. He wore both very tight ones — in pure seventies style — and then wider cuts, such as the classic Levi’s 501 model.

The button-down denim shirt

A great admirer of shirts, Gianni Agnelli’s favorite colors were blue for the day and white for the evening, but he also sported denim shirts, often paired with a blazer.

Always very elegant, the FIAT patron reinvented the button-down collar for informal occasions, which he often wore unbuttoned. The cuffs, on the other hand, were almost always tightened with a double button.

Shoes, shoes, shoes

Due to an accident on the Côte d’Azur, Gianni Agnelli was forced to wear orthopedic footwear his entire life, but he clearly never gave up on elegance! Among his favorite shoes were suede boots; he used a pair of dark brown ankle boots with the tailor’s clothes, and a light pair in sporting moments.

His moccasins, especially those in neutral colors, and tennis shoes — both deserve a special mention.

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