Defining Sprezzatura, and knowing when to do it!
The Italians call it ‘sprezzatura’ - a special word for effortless style, for ingenious nonchalance. It is a way of getting dressed that undermines the accepted way of dressing, while still adhering to its typical garments. Luciano Barbera, the godfather of Italian tailoring, once said: “A man must face the world with sprezzatura. It literally means detachment, but a better way to think of it is quiet confidence or low-key style. The most forceful statement is an understatement.” But how do you obtain that kind of nonchalance?
Surely you must have more important matters on your mind. Simply, by feeling self-confident. By feeling at home in your clothes. Or as Hardy Amies, a British pioneer in luxury menswear once put it: “To attain style in dress, you must look perfectly happy and relaxed in your clothes which must appear part of you rather than a wardrobe you have just donned.”
If a tie is usually worn so the narrow side of the blade is behind the wider part, it’s sprezzatura to wear it the other way round; if the end of a belt is usually tucked into a belt loop, it’s sprezzatura to leave it dangling; if fastening a tailored jacket is what counts for good dress etiquette, it’s sprezzatura to leave it undone. Of course, to now do these things is not sprezzatura – you need to find your own touch of distinction.
What Sprezzatura Means Today
Dress codes continue to break down; the lines between formal and casual dress are ever more blurred; we wear sneakers to work and a suit to go out. If ever there was less need for sprezzatura – a means of standing out without, you know, standing out – now might seem to be it. But, in fact, with the tendency to look ever more alike all the time, arguably there’s a greater need for a personal style to shine through in the details. Add with today’s greater accessibility of menswear – in terms of fashions, variety, pricing, ideas – it becomes a matter less of what you’re wearing as the way you wear it.
So how can one obtain the ultimate form of Sprezzatura!? By knowing that your tailor has done the utmost for making you look like the better version of yourself. Once you are aware of that, you can show that sprezzatura. Want to enjoy the power of sprezzatura yourself? I'm truly confident that we will be able to help you out, don't hesitate to contact us.
Understand that there is a time and place for sprezzatura – it works perfectly in a creative setting, less so in those in which tradition dictates a high degree of formality. Sprezzatura is not for the wedding – especially if you’re the groom – or for the boardroom, ever.
Don't overdo it
The 21st-century Italian peacock – of the kind documented in street style shots from the likes of the Italian menswear fair Pitti Uomo – does not have sprezzatura, for he lacks restraint, subtlety and, often, taste. Sprezzatura is, in contrast, all about little details.
Less is more, trust your tailor,