In his Book of the Courtier, RenaissanceÂ man Baldassare CastiglioneÂ coined theÂ 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.Â Â
It is,Â in sum,Â the art ofÂ making the difficult look easy.Â Needless to say, it applies to one’s life just as much as one’s appearance.Â But when applied to the latter, it counsels avoiding perfection, even if that meansÂ creating intentional flawsâ€”though they must never be seen as such.Â
Examine the MilaneseÂ gentleman above.Â With his negligently unbuttoned shirt, floppy pocket square, rumpled linen jacket with its sleeves folded backâ€”this, my friends, is sprezzatura on a bicycle.