Sprezzatura Personified

sprezzatura on a bicycle

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.

 

 

3 Responses to “Sprezzatura Personified”

  1. Peggy May 25, 2007 at 3:12 pm #

    Few things in life beat the well-dressed man. These are some other highly fashionable well-dressed chaps.

    http://www.bdrm07.esquire.com/

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  1. Parla Inglese? » Manolo for the Men - January 29, 2008

    […] The Sartorialist today featured a certain Angelo Inglese, whose surname is too-good-to-be-true for those who enjoy British style all’italiana.  While his jacket sleeves and trousers might be too tight, his subtle combination of patterns should be an inspiration to us all.  Also, although his cardigan appears have been tucked in carelessly, it is more likely a messy example of sprezzatura. […]