Sprezzatura vs trying too hard.

Discussion in 'General Attire & Accoutrements' started by Tiki Tom, Apr 19, 2016.

  1. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom One Too Many

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    "Sprezzatura" (Ah! those Italians!) basically means flawlessly put together yet making it look effortless. A lot of people go for it but end up looking flawlessly put together and "trying too hard". I'm always keeping my eyes out for the former. I know it is a paradox, but how does one aim to look effortless and unstudied? The other day I saw a guy in a rumpled dark suit, no tie, and a RED fedora. Somehow it all worked. He rocked the look. Yet trying to describe it, it sounds affected and a little silly. It's like trying to catch a rainbow. Perhaps it is one of those "if you have to ask, you'll never know" questions. Something that just can't be broken down.

    Sprezzatura:
    [​IMG]

    Sorry. There are just too many photos of "trying too hard" out there. Perhaps you want to post some of your favorites! :p
     
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  2. emigran

    emigran Practically Family

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    We used to say "studied non-chalant"...
     
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  3. David Conwill

    David Conwill Call Me a Cab

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    I usually err on the side of effortless, at the expense of flawless. I've always had a hard time trusting those who are too perfectly put together, since I can't seem to get much past 9:15 in the morning without acquiring wrinkles, crumbs or the like.
     
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  4. Feraud

    Feraud Bartender

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    It comes with age, experience, and being comfortable in one’s own self and style.
     
  5. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom One Too Many

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    Very true. No denial. But I see tons of comfortable-with-themselves over 40 people everyday (myself included). Yet precious few who ooze style (I'm not one of them.) Some look better than others. Being slim and well-heeled usually helps in that department. Lucky them. But mostly its just average people looking average and doing a good job of flying under the radar. Then every once in a while a guy sails into the picture dressed to the nines, but he's as self-conscious as though he's just robbed a bank. Even rarer is someone who looks sharp, wears life lightly, and looks like he just tossed on something that he dug out from under his bed ...but he looks like a million bucks and you can see people taking note. "Being comfortable with one's own self and style" is for sure an important part of it, but its only the price of admission to walk through the front door. As for the rest, I've heard various bits of wisdom over the years...
    • Get your hair cut one week before you think you need to;
    • Where quality shoes and keep them shined;
    • Always embellish your outfit with a dash of bright color;
    • Walk purposefully (yes, I've heard that);
    • And other maybe-there's-something-to-it gems that I can't recall right now. Please add to the list.
    And, yes, it's all superficial and it's all vanity and who cares anyways? But nuns-in-less, sometime I'll watch an old movie and think "jeez, he's so effortlessly cool and debonair and put-together". Can you bottle that stuff? It's a fantasy. It's silly. Not worth discussion. All true. Still. This is the place to discuss it! :):):)
     
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  6. -30-

    -30- A-List Customer

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    Hiking-up one's trouser legs before sitting down is a definite poseur give-a-way.

    Regards,
    J T
     
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  7. Mathematicus

    Mathematicus A-List Customer

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    I'm Italian and I still have to understand how in hell a loose tie over an unbuttoned collar can make you feel more self-comfortable.
    People don't want to look too neat or they'll stand out in the crowd. But then why they perform "sprezzatura" to be distinguished from other people?

    For me it's only bad taste, very bad taste.
     
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  8. Patrick Hall

    Patrick Hall Practically Family

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    My understanding is that sprezzatura originated in the circles of 16th century courtly etiquette. It described a courtier's (gentleman's) proficiency at concealing all the practice he has poured into his fields or hobbies, so that he can appear to be effortlessly the master of a random task taken to hand at a given moment. It has since been coopted into the world of menswear, and has reemerged recently as interest in Neapolitan tailoring has revived. I agree that many stabs at sprezzatura come out looking like it's opposite, especially in the era of the menswear blogger, with the purposefully fly-away collars, and necktie back blades dragging on the floor.

    For me, the "sprezzy" take-away is the necessity of an enigmatic subtlety in wardrobe combinations, and an indifference to total precision, rather than positioning some item of wardrobe to be purposefully askew. If the color-matching is too obvious, for instance, you are telegraphing the message, "I spent a lot of time matching these red accessories to each other and to my shoe laces!" That's bad. If every item of one's kit comes from the same season of a particular maker, that's bad. It turns you into a walking catalogue, and indicates an absence of personal sartorial judgment - like you walked in and said, "I'll take what that mannequin is wearing, please!" It's always good to spread a few "out-of-fashion" items around.

    The one place where total precision is absolutely warranted, necessary, and rewarded - is fit. No one will ever look down on you because your clothes fit too well. I've shuttled a coat to my tailor three or four times until I'm satisfied. The beauty of this is that once an item fits, particularly in the shoulders, collar, and sleeves, you will be able to wear it with total confidence for the rest of its life, presuming you keep your waistline in the same place!
     
  9. LuvMyMan

    LuvMyMan I’ll Lock Up.

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    Frank had "style".
     
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  10. herringbonekid

    herringbonekid I'll Lock Up

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    good points Patrick.

    the long necktie back blade trend irritates me beyond belief. it was probably original once, but ALL the modern bespoke crowd do it, so it's just become a cliché. it makes me want to write to a necktie manufacturer like Drakes and beg them to shorten their tie designs by eight inches.
     
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  11. Patrick Hall

    Patrick Hall Practically Family

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    Please, please do. iGent menswear constantly abuses the "trouser-top/tie/coat-front" nexus, in a desperate attempt to infuse tailored clothes with an air of casual, "sprezzy" dishabille. Either the back or the front tie blade pops out the bottom of a buttoned jacket or waistcoat, and makes the whole ensemble look like a panting dog, or the rise is so low, that there is a little triangle of shirttail for all the world to see. My modern ties (Drake's is a particular offender in this regard) are so long that I have to tuck two yards of back blade into my trouser tops. If this trend worsens, I'll have to worry about back blades peaking out of my cuffs when I cross my legs. I have a friend who has taken to scissoring several inches off the back of his ties to remedy this problem. Not artful, but effective.
     
  12. Hal

    Hal Practically Family

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    Sometimes, indeed, both! We could do without what Patrick calls a "desperate attempt".
    That said, some vintage ties are so short that they can only successfully be worn with a waistcoat or pullover.
     
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  13. Rudie

    Rudie Call Me a Cab

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    I only buy vintage ties. Problem solved.
     
  14. Patrick Hall

    Patrick Hall Practically Family

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    Tasteful look marred by trying too hard to seem nonchalant:

    tumblr_o67itthJtL1sks9n9o1_540.jpg
     
  15. Benproof

    Benproof A-List Customer

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    I think so too.

    The purposeful pose and posture looks ridiculous with wonky tie and mispositioned button holes for the braces. Comical with the Charlie Chaplin feet and ooohhh! If I see another pair of ankle crop pedal pushers on a middle aged bloke I ...I.......I am going to look um, elsewhere.

    Actually if spezzatura is the only word in Italian we know, then it really is trying to hard.
     
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  16. Patrick Hall

    Patrick Hall Practically Family

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    Interesting, what's off about the brace button positions? Should they be further to the sides?

    There's a lot about this man's taste that I like - the knit tie, the checked jacket fabric, the healthy trouser rise, the restraint demonstrated in the bit of white linen peaking out of the pocket. Hell, I even appreciate the toe-y last of his oxfords. Might not have chosen a shirt with such a dressy collar, but that's quibbling because no one dresses for occasion anymore. What's so maddening to me about this "sprezzatura" thing, is how close these men get to greatness. Add a half inch to the inseam, FIX THE TIE INSANITY, and you can take this one to the bank.
     
  17. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom One Too Many

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    Here is a guy trying waaay too hard. There's that tie thing again.
    But the main point is: he doesn't look "effortless" at all. It looks like he stood in front of the mirror for an hour.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2016
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  18. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    well said.
     
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  19. Mathematicus

    Mathematicus A-List Customer

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    To me, those trousers need at least 1 inch to look decent; but I'd bet 2 inches would be better.
     
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  20. tropicalbob

    tropicalbob My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    In both of the above photos, there are only a few details that need to be addressed: you fellows have already zeroed in on the first guy, but the second character's outfit could easily be corrected by, first, getting rid of the gloves (my brother-in-law, who's 52 y.o., never had a job, and lives with his mother, wears those), second, doing something about the ewok crawling out of his pocket, and, last, ditching that tie and replacing it with a nice Gordon tartan with a bit of green in it. Is that some kind of new thing with the long ties? Also, I might be tempted to wear a herringbone tweed vest with that get-up. Sprezzatura, to me, denotes a certain independence of mind, but these guys seem to be getting their marching orders from someone.
     
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