If you want to know the meaning of the Italian word, “sprezzatura” just walk down any street in Italy and you will get a clear definition. No matter whether Italians are eating gelato on Via Montenapoleone, or zipping around their scooters through the streets of Naples, men of all ages will be exhibiting an uncanny sense of style. Of course, it should come to no surprise at how fashion savvy Italians are. After all, fashion, just like pasta and art, has always been a part of their DNA, and no one has mastered the art of sprezzatura quite as well as the Italians.
The origins of sprezzatura came from a 16th century nobleman named Baldassare Castiglione and his work, The Book of the Courtier. According to Castiglione, he proposed that the art of being a gentleman included looking elegant without spending too much time getting ready. Perhaps, the best example of sprezzatura comes from one of Italy’s most important and well-known families: the Agnelli family who created and developed the car, FIAT.
Born in the northern city of Torino, Gianni Agnelli was the grandson of the legendary founder of Fiat, Giovanni Agnelli. After inheriting his grandfather’s business, Gianni helped build the company to the automobile force it is today.
Although best known and remembered for his business skills, Gianni and his sense of fashion was equally admired. His look defined sprezzatura as he combined, for example, classic, high quality suits with casual hiking boots. One of his signature looks was wearing his expensive watches over his cuff. Whether or not he purposely tried to look chic, no one knows for sure, as his fashion sense seemed carefree and spontaneous.
When Gianni Agnelli passed away in 2003, his grandson, Lapo Eduard Elkann seemed to have inherited his grandfather’s business smarts and his love of fashion. Having worked for FIAT, Ferrari and his own communication and advertising agency, Elkann has followed his grandfather’s footsteps, becoming one of the most fashionable men in the world. He too has mastered the art of sprezzatura while updating his grandfather’s fashionable looks with today’s modern outfits and accessories. Lapo is often photographed wearing neon double-breasted suits, outrageous sunglasses, and bright colorful shirts with vintage handkerchieves. In essence, he has given sprezzatura a modern twist.
If you are learning how to dress with that sprezzatura feel, try a few tips:
- Learn the rules and break them. Those who have mastered sprezzatura have a keen sense of style and fashion. They know colors and fabrics and how to mix and match.
- Mix colors with plaids. Take a blue shirt and wear a plaid jacket. Next, team them with a pair of boots and a vintage leather messenger bag. Have fun and refrain from being so serious about clothes.
- Try a tweed jacket with a polo shirt and an expensive scarf.
- When achieving your perfect disheveled look of sprezzatura, remember to walk with confidence. When Agnelli walked into a room, it wasn’t just his clothes that people saw, but it was aura that made heads turn.