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What is Sprezzatura? How To Dress With Sprezzatura? The Answer is Here !!!
What is that man doing with his tie? Has he dressed in a hurry? What’s with the collar hanging out? Keep your notion that the object of your scorn simply does not know how to dress well. Those areas you criticize could be manifestations of’sprezzatura,’ or the art of dressing carelessly. At least, it appears to be so…
But why would anyone want to do this? For one thing, in a world – and culture – that adores rules, sprezzatura adds a hint of disobedience; it’s a style hack without going full punkish revolution. It’s also a way to express your individuality while still wearing traditional attire. Most importantly, those who can pull off sprezzatura – and it’s a delicate line between style king and style clown – gain the prize of being hip.
Like ‘cool,’ you can spot a touch of sprezzatura when you see it. Like ‘cool,’ it can be overused to the point of no longer being cool. But, and here’s the good news, it can also be acquired – acted out until it becomes natural. And, as writer Thom Gunn put it in his poem about the youthful Elvis Presley, “whether he poses or is real, no cat cares to comment…” So, for all your doubts, trust Teeanime!
WHAT IS SPREZZATURA?
Sprezzatura subverts the standard style of dressing while wearing its customary clothes.
If a tie is usually worn with the narrow side of the blade behind the wider part, it’s sprezzatura to wear it the other way; if a belt end is usually tucked into a belt loop, it’s sprezzatura to leave it dangling; and if fastening a tailored jacket is good dress etiquette, leaving it undone is sprezzatura. Of course, you need your own sprezzatura to perform these things now.
Yes, it’s complicated for a style designed to express apathy. But sprezzatura has always been a show, a display of personal panache.
THE HISTORY OF SPREZZATURA
Like “focaccia” and “linguini,” “Sprezzatura” is an Italian word that initially looks foreign but later becomes part of your language. Defining it is like defining “cool,” unlike “focaccia” or “linguini” (in the non-temperature sense). Everyone knows what it is, but that doesn’t mean you have it.
However, sprezzatura predates “cool” by 400 years. In 1528, writer and royal hanger-on Baldassare Castiglione created the name in The Book of the Courtier, a self-help book for aspiring aristocrats.
The book sold well. It advocated or recycled historic Renaissance Man principles: he would be shaped by the best ideas, be “strong and silent,” and have “sprezzatura,” which also related to his appearance.
Sprezzatura styled a man who was stylish yet not stuffy. The crucial term was “effortless”: it all seemed easy and unforced, as if the man just happened to look both together and lay back. Sprezzatura was a sham. As Castiglione indicated, urbanity principles become part of you the more you practice them.
The Italians capitalized on it after the Brits attempted it in the 19th century. “Historically it’s important to the idea of style in Italy,” says Ermenegildo Zegna artistic director Alessandro Sartori. “You see that in the willingness to mix formal attire with athletics and play with textures—matt next to shiny. “There’s always a way of looking too Italian that slips into stereotype—that very polished look—but sprezzatura is much more organic.”
WHAT SPREZZATURA MEANS TODAY
We now wear shoes to work and suits out. Sprezzatura—a way to stand out without standing out—may be less needed now. However, with the trend toward uniformity, a personal style in the details is more important than ever. With menswear’s growing availability in trends, variety, affordability, and concepts, it’s less about what you wear and more about how you wear it.
The actor Marcello Mastrioanni once said that he hated fashion. Style and designer names… People are so stupid to pay so much money for a designer’s name on a coat,” he said, but he still bought 12 custom suits from his tailor in Rome, Vittorio Zenobi, every year. He once said, “The day when everyone is very, very elegant, I will start to dress like a tramp.” This shows how sprezzatura is about going against the norm.
Gianni Agnelli, who came from the family that made Fiat cars, was another Italian who embodied sprezzatura in the 20th century. He wore his button-down collar undone; he wore his watch over his shirt cuff; he always wore his tie a little off-center and undone; he wore his double-breasted suits undone (a fashion faux pas); he left a couple of his suit’s cuff buttons undone; and he sometimes wore slippers or hiking boots with his perfectly creased tailoring. He didn’t follow the usual rules for clothes and didn’t care.
When listed like that, sprezzatura dressing may seem forced, like the person was attempting to be unusual. That’s true. “But give an Italian man the identical clothes to wear as one from Germany or the UK, for example, and he will still find a touch of difference,” says Naples shoemaker Paolo Scafora. It’s why you can detect an Italian man from afar. He respects himself and others.” your style.
EXPRESS YOURSELF, SPREZZATURA-STYLE
Sprezzatura is a look or attitude that you must embrace; it cannot be done lightly or without conviction, as the impact is incomplete, or scruffitura, as the Italians never called it. The entire appearance is a little ‘just rolled out of bed’ – albeit a bed at a five-star hotel on the Amalfi Coast with nothing to do but soak in the admiring eyes.
ROUGH AND READY
Consider semi-formal – unstructured coats, textured fabrics, knitted rather than silk ties – and distressed. Foxing, or worn around a shirt collar, a shoe scuff, or the patina on a belt can all contribute to sprezzatura’s crucial lack of stiffness.
LET IT ALL HANG OUT
Except for your shoelaces and trouser fly, untie anything that can be undone. However, a top shirt button (with tie) and a shirt or suit cuff are also acceptable. Allow fitted jackets to hang open. Also, ironing should be limited to a mild press.
IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT TAILORING
It’s more difficult to achieve because there are fewer elements to work with, yet sprezzatura can apply to both casual and tailored clothing. For example, in Rebel Without a Cause, James Dean is dressed in jeans, a white T-shirt, and a bomber jacket, but the jacket is worn just so, secured only at the bottom and with the collar turned up. Sprezzatura sees the smart and informal comfortably coexisting.
DISCOVER YOUR SIGNATURE
Find a style that you enjoy, such as the way Agnelli wore his watch or shirt collars, and stay with it so that it becomes a signature over time. However, one or two such signatures will suffice. Don’t do everything you could. Then, to the untrained eye, sprezzatura appears haphazard. In an ideal world, it should also be your signature – not, ahem, something you heard about someplace… However, this is easier said than done.
SPREZZATURA DOS AND DONT’S
Understand that there is a time and place for sprezzatura; it works well in a creative situation, but not so well in those where tradition requires a high level of formality. Sprezzatura is never appropriate for a wedding, especially if you’re the groom, or for the boardroom.
Avoid the stereotypes of Italian wearing, such as very tailored jackets, ankle-skimming trousers, and highly polished shoes. Sprezzatura may have originated in Italian culture (technically before Italy existed), but it has nothing to do with appearing Italian.
Be prepared for some people not to understand. It may just take a few random comments from strangers to remind you that you forgot to tighten the buttons on your Oxford shirt collar or that your tie isn’t straight for the fun to wear off quickly. Still confused? Follow the masters’ lead and you’ll be on the correct route.
Don’t overdo it. The 21st century Italian peacock, as shown in street style photographs from the Italian menswear fair Pitti Uomo, lacks sprezzatura because he lacks restraint, finesse, and, in many cases, taste. Sprezzatura, on the other hand, is all about small details, and less is more with those.
Think about it too hard. If it doesn’t come naturally, it’s probably best to avoid it and stick to the tried and true, socially acceptable ideals of dressing well. If you do too much of it, you risk being called out; and self-conscious sprezzatura is not sprezzatura at all.
KEY SPREZZATURA PIECES
A fitted jacket with no padding or liner perfectly reflects the concept of sprezzatura. It’s soft, non-restrictive, and gives the wearer a sense of nonchalance that’s difficult to attain in a crisp, structured clothing.
Wear yours open and undo a couple of the cuff buttons on each sleeve for a touch of flair, whether double-breasted or single-breasted.
If there is such a thing as a casual tie, this is it. Although not appropriate for the boardroom, knitted ties are perfect for smart casual clothing and, because they lack stuffiness, can be worn with a lot of sprezzatura.
When tying it, use a simple four-in-hand knot and don’t spend ten minutes in the mirror adjusting and re-tying it. Instead, simply tie it once into a tight knot and go with it; if the back blade hangs longer than the front, that’s fine.
Pleated pants are here to stay, because they’re comfortable, elegant, and far less prevalent than their flat-fronted siblings. They are typically meant to sit higher on the waist and have the potential to extend your legs and appear quite lovely when worn correctly.
Slightly more formal than standard trousers, roll the cuffs to counterbalance this and pair with suede loafers, or entirely contrast the look with white sneakers. After all, Sprezzatura is all about blending the formal with the informal.
BUTTON-DOWN SHIRT (WORN UNBUTTONED)
This is one of those things that may appear contrived yet is a crucial sprezzatura feature.
Originally done by Agnelli in the 1960s and replicated by numerous Italians since, leaving a button-down collar undone only works if it appears that you were too busy, or simply didn’t care enough to button it when you tossed it on in the morning. If the remainder of your dress is overly polished, you’ll come across as uneasy.
Pocket squares are becoming less popular among guys, as they are generally seen as an unneeded trend in a world of tracksuits and limited-edition sneakers.
They can, however, transform a suit into a sprezzatura-inspired outfit. The splash of color from your breast pocket can be your point of difference; just make sure it doesn’t match your tie and stuff it in there and go.