With names such as Versace dominating the world’s catwalks, the Italians may regard themselves as being the modern-day epitome of sartorial chic.
But while their Armani suits and Gucci bags show their contemporary flair for the ultra-trendy, evidence has emerged to show that things were once very different.
Their Roman ancestors made what today would be the ultimate fashion faux-pas – wearing thick woolly socks with their sandals.
The evidence has emerged among thousands of archaeological objects found in the River Tees at Piercebridge, near Darlington, County Durham, by divers Bob Middlemass and Rolf Mitchinson.
Among the items they brought to the surface was an unusual Roman razor handle, made of copper alloy and in the shape of a human leg and foot.
On a closer inspection of the 5cm high artefact, the foot is wearing an open-toed sandal with what appears to be a thick woollen sock underneath.
According to Philippa Walton, a finds liaison officer at Newcastle University’s Museum of Antiquities, the Romans may well have been putting comfort before style.
She said: “It is quite funny really that the soldiers were wearing these thick woolly socks.
“It could have been the fashion for a Roman soldier or it could have been because of the tough northern cold.”
Ms Walton said that other discoveries from the period also appear to prove that style was the last thing on a Roman’s mind or foot while on duty in the north east.
“There was a letter found at the Roman fort at Vindolanda, on Hadrian’s Wall, from a soldier writing home asking for more socks,” she said.
“This may suggest the soldiers were more concerned about keeping out the cold.”
The BBC version of this one has a photo ....