What’s the deal with everyone wanting to achieve a relaxed look whilst wearing a suit? I thought a soft shoulder was where broken down cars pull to the side of the road! And can somebody please tell me what Sprezzatura means?
Just as fashion, and the art of tailoring continues to evolve, so too does the concept of wearing a suit. Gone are those miserable days when wearing your father’s, or grandfather’s, ill-fitting suit was socially acceptable. As today’s modern gentleman knows, wearing the right suit is a subtle (or not so subtle, depending your tastes) form of communication. Some have the innate ability to understand this language, whilst others seem, for want of a better word, illiterate. With a little practise and some sound advice however, you’ll soon be on your way to expressing your inner sartorialist.
The Art of Sprezzatura
Leave it to the Italians to come up with a term that not only sounds cool, but is in fact used to describe someone who dresses extremely cool without any appearance of effort. Sprezzatura is a term we hear quite often in the industry today. Although some try quite aggressively to achieve this certain sartorial nonchalance, I believe it might be more of an innate quality. No person was more gifted with this ability than the inimitable Gianni Agnelli.
Agnelli was known worldwide for his impeccable fashion sense, standing out out as the quintessential symbol of sprezzatura. For those of you looking to achieve this high level of sartorial consciousness, I suggest you start by tracking down some vintage photos of Agnelli (pictured below.
The Italians may call it Sprezzatura, but “Casual-Formality” is how I’ve dubbed this particular look. Creating a softer, more relaxed look, whilst wearing something that is generally considered to be quite dressy is not as easy as it sounds. It requires careful attention to detail and just a little bit of creativity. This double-breasted, Prince of Wales check suit that I’ve got on from Richard James Savile Row is one of my favourite examples of “Casual-Formality”.
Notice the lack of shoulder pads or “natural shoulders”, which lend the suit a certain nonchalance. Although this particular fabric is a medium weight flannel, the slanted side pockets and the fact that the jacket is completely unconstructed on the interior give it a very soft and relaxed look.
Take the time also to be clever and original with your accessories and you’ll find that others will definitely take notice. Never fear the task of accessorising an already “busy” suit. Instead, be discerning in your efforts to pull particular colours out from the suit, and highlight them with your accessories.
This Richard James suit has a coffee coloured Prince of Wales check base with a striking burgundy over-check. I decided to pull the shades of brown from the base of the suit, and represent it through my dark brown grenadine tie. I also pulled the burgundy from the over-check with the use of a navy and burgundy tipped pocket square. Paint all of these colours on a crisp white shirt and you’ve really got something special.
Finally, you can never be too confident in what you wear and the way you wear it. Every master of sprezzatura that has ever lived fully embraced this concept, being so confident in their outfit that it almost becomes like a second skin.
There you have it…now go off and let your inner sartorialist loose, and try not to get your sprezzatura on anyone.
Follow Faiyaz on Instagram for more sartorial inspiration: @gentlemansartorialist.