4 style secrets for mastering sprezzatura

Posted On: Friday, November 30th, 2018 0 comments

Sprezzatura is a particularly hard style to master. In case you missed our recent quick introduction, essentially it’s the concept of studied nonchalance, of an elegant and unrehearsed grace. As you might imagine, it’s not something you’ll learn overnight – although it becomes a lot easier if you’re using quality materials like our own  shirting fabrics here at Acorn.

Ever since it was first conceptualised by Baldassare Castiglione in his Book of the Courtier (centuries ago), it’s been established as more than simply a way of dressing; it’s a way of life. Part of the beauty is that you can develop your own specific interpretation, but before you can do that, you’ll need to learn these four golden rules!

1. Remember that sprezzatura has a time and place

There’s no denying that sprezzatura is a style statement, however understated. And like all style statements, you’ve got to know the appropriate setting in which to make it. The etiquette is most relaxed at parties and other social occasions, but in more formal settings, such as weddings or workplaces, you’ve got to be careful about dressing to suit the occasion. Essentially, any style statement only works as long as it’s in context. In a social setting, an undone cuff might normally be seen as an elegant touch of sprezzatura, whereas if you’re in a business meeting all the context is lost, and it can just come off looking scruffy. Save it for the places where it works.

2. Don’t overthink it

Since it’s an Italian word, many people automatically associate sprezzatura with the popular image of ‘Italian style’. However, they don’t necessarily go hand in hand! It’s true that it lends itself well to that classic European nonchalance – in fact in many ways it IS that classic European nonchalance – but that doesn’t mean it only works with fitted jackets, ankle-skimming trousers, and highly polished shoes. Such high-quality garments are often great vehicles for exhibiting sprezzatura, but they’re not necessarily a prerequisite, nor do they define the style.

shirt cuffs

Remember, the idea of sprezzatura is to be so laid back it appears effortless. It’s the undone buttons, the loose cuffs, the long belts – the idea is to give the impression of making small style mistakes but getting away with them, because you’re just that relaxed. Sure, you can achieve this with the very cream of tailored garments, but also equally well with more comfortable clothing, made from high quality cotton shirting fabrics.

3. Err on the side of subtlety

Sprezzatura doesn’t really lend itself well to today’s Instagram age. Subtlety is the name of the game, which means it’s most easily achieved with just one or two elements. It’s a style that’s defined by restraint, which means it’s all too easy to go overboard with ostentatious touches and ruin the effect. It’s so hard to successfully capture through social media. Platforms like Pinterest or Instagram are, by their nature, supposed to draw attention, stand out from the crowd. That makes them great for showcasing high quality products like our cotton shirting fabrics, but a little harder to convey subtle sartorial arts like sprezzatura. Essentially, if you’re working too hard to deliberately draw attention to it – you’re doing it wrong!

Sprezzatura is supposed to look accidental, so drawing attention to it makes it look contrived, undercutting your entire air of nonchalance. Remember, keep it simple, keep it subtle – and be prepared for people not to get it!

acorn loose tie

4. Keep it original

This is almost without a doubt the hardest part of successfully pulling off sprezzatura. In many ways, sprezzatura is about rebellion, about consciously rejecting norms about style and fashion by being a little unpolished, a little rough around the edges. Basically, it’s nonconformist. And if you really want to be nonconformist – if you really want to achieve sprezzatura – you have to work out your own way of breaking the rules. If you’re simply mimicking the sprezzatura of others, one could argue you’re simply conforming to the other nonconformists, and round and round it goes. Try and develop your own sprezzatura style quirks. Be different. Be unique.

So, you might be thinking, where on earth do you start? Well, we’ve got a bit of style inspiration for you there – so stay tuned for next week’s post! In the meantime, you can find plenty of quality shirting fabrics right here on our site at Acorn. Now we’re well into winter, our country checks are very popular with our customers, with our Haworth beige fabric emerging as a particular favourite. You can place your order through our site, or simply give us a ring on 01282 698 662.

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