Marco Baldassari's Tips on Mastering Business Casual
Besides pasta and wine, if there's one thing Italians do well it's dapper dressing. Marco Baldassari is the epitome of the effortlessly suave style his countrymen and women are known for. A familiar face at Pitti Uomo—the men's fashion extravaganza held biannually in Florence—and a street-style star in his own right, he leads the luxury label Eleventy from his nation's fashion capital, Milan.
"The name Eleventy comes from the word 'elevator,'" Baldassari explains. "Our philosophy is to try to improve ourselves every day, to do better than we did the day before." As a cofounder and creative director of menswear at the brand, Baldassari brings his personal taste to every piece he designs. Each collection is modeled around smart, yet approachable, looks that have become a sort of dress code for the urban professional, also known as business casual for men. Baldassari tells us how to master this way of dressing, Italian style.
1. Mix formal and casual pieces to create a balanced look.
The key, Baldassari says, is to pair pieces you may not automatically think go together. "In my mind, opposites attract," he explains. "I love to wear a sartorial piece with a casual piece, such as a jacket with chino pants and a nice T-shirt, but always tailored and combining formal and casual. You could wear a tie with nice denim and a double-breasted jacket, or with distressed denim and a sneaker. These are all nice combinations."
2. Choose clothes that work for everything on your daily agenda.
Business casual wear should take you from day to night—and from desk to dinner and maybe even beyond—seamlessly. "I take inspiration from the street, but I make it very sophisticated in order to give you the opportunity to look younger, more comfortable and up to date. You can wear it in the morning and then go out in the evening for a pizza, and you look great for both—you don’t need to go home in between to change your look. That’s our goal."
3. Select ageless, quality pieces made with care to elevate your whole wardrobe.
Part of the brand's philosophy draws on Italy's history of craftsmanship—honed and perfected through generations—updated for today. "We take inspiration from the past—from Italian heritage and from our culture," he says. "Our customer wants to wear classic but new, contemporary styles. So, when I build my collection, I think of whether I could wear it [at the age of 50], and also that 25-year-old guys could wear it."
4. Add interesting details and accessories to look on trend.
Eleventy provides the complete "Made in Italy" experience, derived from refined artistry, heritage quality and unparalleled style. "You can buy the best jacket, but if you don't combine it with the right trousers, with the right shoes, it doesn't look good. We try to suggest a very relaxed approach and show him how he can wear it; we try to educate him with new trends. For example, we believe that the pocket square is the new tie, which can be worn with a simple white T-shirt and a jacket. The details make the difference."