In his Book of the Courtier, Renaissance man Baldassare Castiglione coined the much-needed, and delightful, word “sprezzatura”:
It is an art which does not seem to be an art. One must avoid affectation and practice in all things a certain sprezzatura, disdain or carelessness, so as to conceal art, and make whatever is done or said appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it … obvious effort is the antithesis of grace.
It is, in sum, the art of making the difficult look easy. Needless to say, it applies to one’s life just as much as one’s appearance. But when applied to the latter, it counsels avoiding perfection, even if that means creating intentional flaws—though they must never be seen as such.
Examine the Milanese gentleman above. With his negligently unbuttoned shirt, floppy pocket square, rumpled linen jacket with its sleeves folded back—this, my friends, is sprezzatura on a bicycle.