The Art of Sprezzatura – Looking Good Without Trying Too Hard

Sprezzatura - Mr. Luca Di Montezemolo and Mr. Gianni Agnelli
Mr. Luca Di Montezemolo and Mr. Gianni Agnelli. Pay attention how the wrist watch of Mr. Agnelli is over the cuffs, not the other way around.

You have all heard about this charming Italian word, but what is sprezzatura? In plain words, it is a way a man dresses and looks good without looking like he tried too hard. It can be translated as “artful dishevelment”. Italians are the masters of “not caring look” that looks good. Sprezzatura is rooted in their attitude, but where does this attitude come from? 

Gentlemen Art of Sprezzatura 6FWQHGKP5PCM

Renaissance Man

In the beginning of the 16th century Baldassare Castiglione wrote “The Book of the Courtier” which was a guide for gentleman like himself. He stated that dressing totally effortless was as important as looking good. Since he was writing for the noble men this way of dressing was more of an etiquette and less about attitude.

Today this principle is wide-spread among Italian men and the trend of nonchalant, unstudied, carefree sartorial rebellion has crossed Italian borders and spread around the world.


Sprezzatura - Mr. Lino Ieluzzi and Mr. Renato Plutino
Italian gentlemen, Mr. Lino Ieluzzi and Mr. Renato Plutino


Learn the rules and then break them

Men’s outfit should never look too perfect according to sprezzatura. Is it trying to say that the men should not follow the rules of matching patterns and colors? No, rules are good but every rule is meant to be broken.

Sprezzatura - Mr. Lapo Elkann
Mr. Lapo Elkann

Once you learn the rules you can start do break them and bend them to your own taste. Once you achieve sartorial perfection it is time to try sartorial nonchalance, the sprezzatura.

If you always follow the rules of matching pocket square to your tie, if your shirt is always starched and if you never bend the rules you will not look original. You will blend in the world of men where everyone knows the rules and dress the same.

But if you do get brave and break some rules, if you do start to dress bravely and nonchalantly you will be seen as a cool man. A man of style. Because style cannot be bought. You either have it or you don’t.

Breaking the rules can be charming and women love charming men. And charm comes with easy-going attitude, charm is totally opposite of the perfection. But how to look not so perfect but yet perfectly cool?


Sprezzatura - Mr. Luca Rubinacci
© Club Rubinacci. Mr. Luca Rubinacci. Are you brave enough to bress like this?


How to achieve the sprezzatura?

You should still dress for the occasion. If the occasion is black tie event, then dress appropriately but do make your statement with some detail. Like patterned pocket square, crooked bow tie or a bracelet just hanging loosely bellow your watch.

Implementing some of these details in desired dress code will make you stand out from the crowd. You will not be another guy, you will be that guy.

For events that are not so formal, or for casual occasions you can be even bolder and extend your nonchalance to another level. Let your style shine in these situations. If you are brave enough, try red pants, or a conservative tweed jacket with vest in contesting bright color.

A pocket square that is much brighter than the rest of the outfit you are wearing. A conservative vest with turtleneck sweater and a pair of jeans with some nice cognac colored brogues.

You can mix some expensive modern piece of clothing with some vintage one. Put on some colored socks, no one will expect that. Wear accessories in unexpected way. Try some of the new tie knots, like Eldrige or Trinity knot. Let your charisma be your guide.


Take a notice of the bracelets around this gentleman’s hand. Color of the scarf is noticeable enough.


Don’t overdo it

The beauty of sprezzatura is that there are no rules. There are no do’s and don’ts as long as it looks good.  Although do not overdo it. If you start to fool around too much with your wardrobe you may look silly sometimes and you don’t want to look like a clown.

Have a measure, in everything, not only in your dressing. One, two or maybe even three details will be enough. Don’t overdo it.

If you are uncertain look for inspiration in the masters of Italian sprezzatura like late Gianni Agnelli or his nephew Lapo Elkann. Good example is Luca Di Montezemolo CEO of Ferrari or if you are brave enough try some of the stuff that Luca Rubinacci is doing or Lino Ieluzzi.

While you can learn a lot from these icons of sprezzatura the most important thing about it is that your personality has to be your guide. Don’t be a copy cat. Be yourself, the one and only and if you achieve this you will be remembered where ever you go.

3 thoughts on “The Art of Sprezzatura – Looking Good Without Trying Too Hard”

  1. The last gentleman is Diego Della Valle, owner of Tod’s. He is not wearing a scarf, but it is a sweater around the neck, in the colour of his team uniform, ACF Fiorentina


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