“Sprezzatura”. It describes cultivated carelessness and unexpected combinations of colour and style in menswear. Such as people leaving their monkstrap shoes unbuckled, or wearing bracelets with suits, or bright coats and hats.
But this kind of affectation – damning evidence of effort – isn’t true sprezzatura. Sprezzatura is not a way of dressing; it’s a general attitude of ease and nonchalance.
So how do you achieve it? There are two fundamental aspects.
Dress with restraint. Bright colours should be worn prudently; for example a bright tie, pocket square or pair of socks can lift an outfit, but all three at once looks like treble, bass and midrange all turned up to the maximum. Likewise, go easy on the accessories. There may be occasions when you absolutely need your scarf, hat, sunnies, coat and bag – maybe – but you’re probably going to look like you’re carrying around all your worldly possessions.
And invest in good clothes and then wear the hell out of them. Clothes don’t look like they’re yours until they are worn in. Fred Astaire used to throw his brand-new suits and hats against a wall “to get that stiff, square newness out of them”. Look after your clothes, but don’t be too precious with them or they’ll never feel like they’re yours.
In the gallery above, Ben Silvester of Double Monk shows us how to channel sprezzatura.