What is it?  It’s artful dishevelment.  The ability to pull a look and style together with a sense of nonchalance,  almost as if you didn’t care.  To the gentlemen who make it their business to style ‘sprezzi’, it’s a well thought out process.

Karl Edwin Guerre - photographer

Karl Edwin Guerre – photographer

Please note, sprezzatura does not mean or give permission to engage in sloppiness. Many truly believe they are achieving the look of casual indifference in their style. Wearing pj bottoms or sweatpants to every occasion or dressing in clown-like fashion by mismatching colours is not what sprezzatura is about.

“I like the guys who make almost a wrong clothing decision but make it in the right spirit. That’s style, to me. Even if it’s a mistake, you walk with your head held high, smile and forget about it.”
Michael Bastian

Sprezzatura, was first seen in ‘The Book of the Courtier’ by Baldassare Castiglione where it is defined as: ‘a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or say appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it.’

I want to highlight the phrase, ‘….make whatever one does or say appear to be without effort….‘ Sounds like a lot of work and subterfuge doesn’t it?  I’m all about one’s natural state of being and authenticity, but let’s face it, we are a species that appreciates how things ‘look’. We are moved by order and beauty.  It’s why we are enthralled by nature,  majestic in its own ‘artful dishevelment’ we fall captive to its aesthetics.

Various 'sprezzatura' looks

Various ‘sprezzatura’ looks

To the many gentlemen reading this, you might balk at the idea of me advocating a possible new way of looking at your sense of style, a new way of showing up in the world. Your initial reaction might be to defend your right to stay the same and will therefore stand  firm, after all it’s worked for you thus far, so why mess with it now. Since I’m all about re-defining, re-discovering and re-imagining one’s self, I suggest considering a new way.

Others may strongly oppose the idea, feeling it may place them at risk. The risk of appearing overly feminine or worse, that their sexual orientation might be questioned. Is that what we are about, defending against possible attacks so we instead we attempt to fit in and disappear?

It’s time to move past this strong-hold and express yourself.  Male stereotypes are being shattered along with many other societal ‘types’ that tend to hold us back from experiencing life to its fullest.

Let me also add it’s not about running out and purchasing a complete new courtier wardrobe. Simply consider options that allow you to express differently with a bit of panache and flare. Here’s another good reason, women love it when a man puts thought into how he shows up.

To the ladies reading this, if you were honest, do you not stop and secretly admire men that look and smell fabulous? I know I do.  Style, flare, confidence, and of course, intelligence play a big part in Sprezzatura. Yes, choice of clothes are the mainstay of this ‘art’ but it’s more than that. A sense of playing up to your authentic self without regard to what others think defines this style, without it you’re just playing dress-up.

On the world stage, Sprezzatura style celebrities such as Lapo Elkann, Gianni Agnelli and Tommy Hilfilger define its essence.  Yes, these gentlemen move in jet set circles and have access to form and function in ways we may not, but that’s no excuse not to try a few things out.

Sprezzi knows no age!

Although ‘sprezzi’ refers to men and their sense of expression, as a woman I discovered I could easily create my own expressive sense of being out in the world. Simply by deciding to do so and holding to fashion’s foundation of colour and style and breaking a few rules, changed the game in ways I can’t explain.

Go ahead, change your  style rules and form your own sense of Sprezzi. The attempt is half the fun!

P.S. – I do love a man with great shoes!….just sayin’ 😉


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