In the world of luxury accessories and menswear we often trot out the word ‘sprezzatura’ which, being Italian, makes us all feel a little bit more refined. But until recently Furious Goose only vaguely knew what it meant. We thought 'louche, elegant and rakish' was the gist of it but we didn’t know the specifics.
So we thought we’d find out what it really means and share it below.
Here’s what the Oxford English Dictionary has as its definition:
Sprezzatura – NOUN
Definition: Studied carelessness, especially as a characteristic quality or style of art or literature.
Example: ‘Lex had once told him about the ideal of sprezzatura, the art of seeming artless.’
Sprezzatura came well before designer pocket squares and dapper two piece suits
The word originated in Italy and first sauntered into literature in the early 16th Century in Baldassare Castiglione's ‘The Book of the Courtier’. The courtier’s life was one of performance that alternated between masculinity, including skill at arms, and elegance and poetic sensibility. This is not dissimilar to the modern day balancing act of the metrosexual, who must be coiffed and plucked on the one hand and rugged and manly on the other.
Everything from the wigs on their noble heads through to their high-heeled court shoes had to be en-pointe and bang on trend at all times, often at great expense. However, unlike the modern day dandy, the courtiers of the fifteen hundreds would suffer terribly if they got the balance wrong. Falling out of favour at a Royal Court could have real life consequences that were devastating to their estate’s finances and sometimes fatal to the unfortunate lords themselves.
Castiglione defined ‘sprezzatura’ as:
"A certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it".
Why sprezzatura is still relevant to today’s sartorially minded gentlemen
Masculinity, so we’re told, abhors affectation and artifice, explaining the stereotypical male palette of neutral colours and the simplicity of material on men’s tailoring. Yet, so we're told, we all must stand out from the crowd in an ever more visually saturated world. (There are 52,000,000 images uploaded to Instagram every day, for example, and we all know the modern male can’t flourish without his likes on social media.) This creates a certain tension in dressing rooms across the world.
Look fabulous, metrosexual and different to your peers while simultaneously looking like you don’t give a damn about fashion or skin tone and are casually being a successful, rounded and capable alpha male. This is a precarious line to walk… especially in patent brogues and skinny jeans.
So what are Furious Goose’s top 5 tips to achieve sprezaturra?
The Italian Style, displayed in all its 'peacockery' in the streets of Florence during Pitti Uomo, offers dizzying selections of flamboyant and delightful looks. Edits brimming over with luxury accessories such as spats, silk bow ties, satin pocket squares, opera scarves, round-rimmed tortoiseshell glasses, elegant leather gloves, brogues in every shade under the sun, trilbies, panamas and berets…. And more hipster beards than you can shake a silver-tipped walking cane at.
But sometimes (and we can’t believe we’re saying this) less is more…
When dressing our five top tips to achieve sprezzatura are:
- Dress to the max but then take off the last accessory you put on
- Think carefully about your pocket square fold and choose something that's not too intricate such as the square fold or presidential fold. Perhaps don’t fold it at all, but just shove it in there (just try a few times until it looks good)
- Think very carefully when you wear a matching pocket square and tie and in most circumstances avoid this… you might end up looking like a waiter
- Never wear clothes or cuts that are too tight for you… you will feel uncomfortable and definitely not look nonchalant
- Be bold with your choices, relax, enjoy the sheer pleasure of dressing up, and remember these are just accessories and nobody is going to die…. This isn’t the 16th Century!
Browse our men’s accessories here for our full range of luxury silk pochettes, squares, bow ties, neckerchiefs and long scarves and get sprezzatura on your wardrobe. All our gorgeous and giftable wearable masterpieces are made in the UK and hand finished to the highest quality.
Image source www.e-pitti.com