Have you ever wondered what to do with that button-hole on the lapel of your suit jacket? Well, for the dandified sartorialist it could serve for a bunch of things: a small flower boutonniere (I have mine made by Mabolo) maybe freshly picked off the table of a hotel restaurant (I do that a lot); or some fabric and felt accessory that came with the jacket; or even a small medal on a chain perhaps? Of late, I have become a fan of Luca Rubinacci, third generation tailor of the eponymous Neapolitan suiting house. His sense of style has been subject of many a treatise on menswear, and considered one of the world best dressed, an original rake. My current obsession: his coral lapel pin, and his bracelets.
The coral lapel pin is inspired by the rosaries that no self-respecting Roman catholic could do without. (Myself being a La Sallite, I still have my first communion rosary in my bag.) This hand-carved coral lapel button is a perfect example of the adage “It’s all in the details.” The chain of coral beads features a button at one end and two lucky Neapolitan charms at the other, all attached with gold thread. Yet, while the small button fits through your lapel hole, the chain of beads leads down into the breast pocket, where the lucky corno, or horns, are kept safe.
Others wear it on the opposite, showing off the charm. Only those in the know, or those observant enough to recognize the beauty and refinement of the button and beads, will notice the delightful accessory adorning the jacket. It is “stealth-style,” a little tweak. Pundits tend to differ on the need for this adornment. They say it’s just useless, and adds nothing to a well-put together suit. I beg to differ, and I think it is simply cool!
The story of the family Rubinacci Napoli dates back to the early 19th Century, when Mariano Rubinacci began trading silk with China. In the 1930s Gennaro Rubinacci, a renowned “arbiter elegantarum” of Neapolitan style, opened The London House. By doing so he established Rubinacci as a luxury tailor to the rich and famous.
These days, under the guidance of the patriarch’s great-grandson Mariano and his son Luca, Rubinacci remains the pinnacle of Neapolitan elegance and style. Luca Rubinacci is a regular on street style blogs around the world thanks to his signature look, documented most notably by The Sartorialist’s Scott Schuman. His accessories are as bold as his suit style, and when you have someone like Lapo Elkann (grandson of Gianni Agnelli of Fiat fame, with a sense of style to wit) as a client, you can imagine how far Rubinacci can push menswear. He is a true Pitti Peacock.
Besides his coral lapel chain, he comfortably wears an expansive collection of bracelets. This began as an annual tradition by his parents who gift each other simple red silk ribbons at the beginning of every year and then wear them until they fall off. Now it is part of the armory of accessories for the Rubinacci brand, a gateway to a style preference. A plethora of memories fill his wrist, and with it a sense of being. If the marketing guys are to believed, each bracelet captures a story and a memory. Like the lapel chain, both are charms that harken to a style story.
If this appeals to you, here’s how you can pickup this style:
Over time, you develop your own style signifiers. In the case of Rubinacci, it’s the lapel chain and silk bracelets. (Mine is my pocket square or my scarf.) It is matter of taste. Not everyone would be ready to burn 500 euros for a lapel chain of onyx and coral, or the 18k gold silk ribbon bracelets for 150 euros for arm candy. A little creativity for the lapel pin would be a recycle chain with an old locket or medal. This would do nicely. For the Luca bracelets look, you can manage that by yourself. It’s nothing pinterest won’t solve. Give a go, and get ready for the summer, to unleash your inner hippie and pull out a mix of friendship bracelets, silver ID manacles and a host of bits and bobs for arm bands.
Style inspiration comes from all over, and just a bit of a gamble will amp up your jacket replete with a bit of swagger. What ever you do, let’s just be sure that it comes naturally. Maybe for starters get comfortable swiping a flower and using that lame button-hole for once. That comes free.