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Lifestyle Journal

The True Art Of Sprezzatura:
How to dress for your date

The art of sprezzatura, commonly defined as “a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make what one does or say appear to be without effort”. The term perfectly encapsulates the Italian man’s way of dressing through careful attention to detail and effortless execution.

At the beginning of the 16th century Baldassare Castiglione wrote “The Book of the Courtier”, a guide for gentleman like himself on the art of understated sophistication. The popularity of this guide initiated a progression of etiquette and style. Castiglione stated that dressing effortlessly was just as important as looking good.

We understand this style is easier said than done, so we have put together the key steps on how to master this look. Remember to keep things simple and try to let one article of clothing take the lead.  

Introduction

Introduction

Few garments have created such controversy as the hoodie . From its association with youth driven communities, iconic sports players and the runways of Paris, the hooded sweatshirt is one of our most iconic menswear wardrobe staples.

It’s design has barley changed over the last 80 years. The blank canvas has appealed over the generations, as different walks of life adopted the hoodie as a symbol for music, innovation and rebellion.

Master the art of Sprezzatura

The art of sprezzatura, commonly defined as “a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make what one does or say appear to be without effort”. The term perfectly encapsulates the Italian man’s way of dressing through careful attention to detail and effortless execution.

At the beginning of the 16th century Baldassare Castiglione wrote “The Book of the Courtier”, a guide for gentleman like himself on the art of understated sophistication. The popularity of this guide initiated a progression of etiquette and style. Castiglione stated that dressing effortlessly was just as important as looking good.

We understand this style is easier said than done, so we have put together the key steps on how to master this look. Remember to keep things simple and try to let one article of clothing take the lead.

Luca Faloni AW

Start with the right Fit

When it comes to style, the right fit is everything. The Italians pride themselves in wearing clothes that fit. If there is a gathering of fabric or if there is excess material hanging loosely, you will probably need to go a size down. Tailored jackets must fit like almost like glove, avoid looking ‘owned’ by clothes as this will make your feel awkward and will fake the Sprezzatura look.

A slim fit should not be skin tight, the fabric should just touch your body, giving a tailored look and leaving sufficient room for movement.


Italian Shades

Learn how to embrace colour. Perhaps the swagger of a Milanese in red trousers may not be your look, but try and introduce a few key colours that are right for you.

Pairing colours that are slightly bold in shade with a traditional colour can look graceful and give instant personality to your outfit. However, do remember you don’t want to attract too much attention, so subtle clashes are always wise for a first date.

Gianni Agnelli


Know the rules & bend them

In the name of style, Italians bend, or even break, traditional fashion rules in favour of the outfit. Adapting the rules in the name of style is a craft in itself, and it involves being one step ahead of the trends.

Take a look in the mirror, Does that blazer really need a collared shirt? Maybe you need to half untuck the shirt? Should you wear shades only when it’s sunny? Think about how to eloquently manipulate these key detail and add individuality to your look.


Texture & Layering

First impressions are crucial, fine details such as texture and layering in your outfit are subtly stylish and won’t go unnoticed.

Instead of wearing an ordinary matt poplin shirt opt for a brushed cotton that has an irresistible velvet touch. Or, create a sense of depth to your total look by adding a polo sweater in cashmere that is sensually soft and will add a tasteful lux appeal to your overall look.

Luca Faloni AW


Accessorize like an Italian

Integrate your own look with expressive accessories such as leather gloves, woven belts and contrast scarves. Don’t go overboard but instead keep patterns and colours simple.

Scarves are a great way to complete your look, as an outer layer you can be more adventurous with colour and contrast textures. Their use is adviced not only during winter but also in warmer season, using linen or silk variants.


Embrace your inner confidence

When looking at street style in Florence or Milan, you’ll notice that the Italian man wear the clothes, the clothes don’t wear the Italian.

The key to impressions is to exude confidence, remove your ego and be willing to make mistakes. A display of natural charm will carry your outfit even further.

Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in ‘Roman Holiday’

Master the art of Sprezzatura

The art of sprezzatura, commonly defined as “a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make what one does or say appear to be without effort”. The term perfectly encapsulates the Italian man’s way of dressing through careful attention to detail and effortless execution.

At the beginning of the 16th century Baldassare Castiglione wrote “The Book of the Courtier”, a guide for gentleman like himself on the art of understated sophistication. The popularity of this guide initiated a progression of etiquette and style. Castiglione stated that dressing effortlessly was just as important as looking good.

We understand this style is easier said than done, so we have put together the key steps on how to master this look. Remember to keep things simple and try to let one article of clothing take the lead.

Luca Faloni AW

Start with the right Fit

When it comes to style, the right fit is everything. The Italians pride themselves in wearing clothes that fit. If there is a gathering of fabric or if there is excess material hanging loosely, you will probably need to go a size down. Tailored jackets must fit like almost like glove, avoid looking ‘owned’ by clothes as this will make your feel awkward and will fake the Sprezzatura look.

A slim fit should not be skin tight, the fabric should just touch your body, giving a tailored look and leaving sufficient room for movement.

Italian Shades

Learn how to embrace colour. Perhaps the swagger of a Milanese in red trousers may not be your look, but try and introduce a few key colours that are right for you.

Pairing colours that are slightly bold in shade with a traditional colour can look graceful and give instant personality to your outfit. However, do remember you don’t want to attract too much attention, so subtle clashes are always wise for a first date.

Gianni Agnelli

Know the rules & bend them

In the name of style, Italians bend, or even break, traditional fashion rules in favour of the outfit. Adapting the rules in the name of style is a craft in itself, and it involves being one step ahead of the trends.

Take a look in the mirror, Does that blazer really need a collared shirt? Maybe you need to half untuck the shirt? Should you wear shades only when it’s sunny? Think about how to eloquently manipulate these key detail and add individuality to your look.

Texture & Layering

First impressions are crucial, fine details such as texture and layering in your outfit are subtly stylish and won’t go unnoticed.

Instead of wearing an ordinary matt poplin shirt opt for a brushed cotton that has an irresistible velvet touch. Or, create a sense of depth to your total look by adding a polo sweater in cashmere that is sensually soft and will add a tasteful lux appeal to your overall look.

Luca Faloni AW

Accessorize like an Italian

Integrate your own look with expressive accessories such as leather gloves, woven belts and contrast scarves. Don’t go overboard but instead keep patterns and colours simple.

Scarves are a great way to complete your look, as an outer layer you can be more adventurous with colour and contrast textures. Their use is adviced not only during winter but also in warmer season, using linen or silk variants.

Embrace your inner confidence

When looking at street style in Florence or Milan, you’ll notice that the Italian man wear the clothes, the clothes don’t wear the Italian.

The key to impressions is to exude confidence, remove your ego and be willing to make mistakes. A display of natural charm will carry your outfit even further.

Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in ‘Roman Holiday

Where to take your date

When it comes to creating a memorable evening, it is important to choose the right location for your date. The venue should have the right atmosphere, be sophisticated yet not obvious.

For example one restaurant we love in London is Luca, not only because of their familiar name. It has become one of the most talked about places, renowned for the perfect balance of intimacy, seductive dishes and electric atmosphere.

Luca Restaurent, Clarkenwell London

There are two separate areas for booking, depending on the atmosphere you are going for: the bar is vibrant and fun with an aperitivo style menu which will make the date more relaxed. The main restaurant, however, offers a more traditional and formal atmosphere with a full course Italian menu and top notch service, the perfect environment to share a romantic meal. The overall style evokes a timeless sense of design that resembles a fashionable restaurant in Milan, acting as a perfect match for your Sprezzatura look.

Luca Faloni AW

Start with the right Fit

When it comes to style, the right fit is everything. The Italians pride themselves in wearing clothes that fit. If there is a gathering of fabric or if there is excess material hanging loosely, you will probably need to go a size down. Tailored jackets must fit like almost like glove, avoid looking ‘owned’ by clothes as this will make your feel awkward and will fake the Sprezzatura look.

A slim fit should not be skin tight, the fabric should just touch your body, giving a tailored look and leaving sufficient room for movement.


Italian Shades

Learn how to embrace colour. Perhaps the swagger of a Milanese in red trousers may not be your look, but try and introduce a few key colours that are right for you.

Pairing colours that are slightly bold in shade with a traditional colour can look graceful and give instant personality to your outfit. However, do remember you don’t want to attract too much attention, so subtle clashes are always wise for a first date.


Gianni Agnelli

Know the rules & bend them

In the name of style, Italians bend, or even break, traditional fashion rules in favour of the outfit. Adapting the rules in the name of style is a craft in itself, and it involves being one step ahead of the trends.

Take a look in the mirror, Does that blazer really need a collared shirt? Maybe you need to half untuck the shirt? Should you wear shades only when it’s sunny? Think about how to eloquently manipulate these key detail and add individuality to your look.


Texture & Layering

First impressions are crucial, fine details such as texture and layering in your outfit are subtly stylish and won’t go unnoticed.

Instead of wearing an ordinary matt poplin shirt opt for a brushed cotton that has an irresistible velvet touch. Or, create a sense of depth to your total look by adding a polo sweater in cashmere that is sensually soft and will add a tasteful lux appeal to your overall look.


Luca Faloni AW

Accessorise like an Italian

Integrate your own look with expressive accessories such as leather gloves, woven belts and contrast scarves. Don’t go overboard but instead keep patterns and colours simple.

Scarves are a great way to complete your look, as an outer layer you can be more adventurous with colour and contrast textures. Their use is advised not only during winter but also in warmer season, using linen or silk variants.


Embrace your inner confidence

When looking at street style in Florence or Milan, you’ll notice that the Italian man wear the clothes, the clothes don’t wear the Italian.

The key to impressions is to exude confidence, remove your ego and be willing to make mistakes. A display of natural charm will carry your outfit even further.


Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in ‘Roman Holiday’

Where to take your date

When it comes to creating a memorable evening, it is important to choose the right location for your date. The venue should have the right atmosphere, be sophisticated yet not obvious.

For example one restaurant we love in London is Luca, not only because of their familiar name. It has become one of the most talked about places, renowned for the perfect balance of intimacy, seductive dishes and electric atmosphere.


There are two separate areas for booking, depending on the atmosphere you are going for: the bar is vibrant and fun with an aperitivo style menu which will make the date more relaxed. The main restaurant, however, offers a more traditional and formal atmosphere with a full course Italian menu and top notch service, the perfect environment to share a romantic meal. The overall style evokes a timeless sense of design that resembles a fashionable restaurant in Milan, acting as a perfect match for your Sprezzatura look.

Luca Restaurent, Clarkenwell London
Hollywood icon, Gary Cooper in a crisp white shirt, on the set of ‘The First Kiss’, 1928

There is perhaps no other item of apparel that defines a man’s style quite like the shirt – they’ve been a staple of men’s wardrobes for as long as anyone can remember and although athleisure types would probably beg to differ, it’s difficult to imagine a world without them.

Like most things that have stood the test of time, the shirt’s evolution was a slow and steady affair over millennia, but there are certain milestones in its development worth taking note of, which we’ve helpfully rounded up here.

An illustration of Ancient Egyptian linen attire from ‘The Costumes of All Nations’, 1882.

3500BC

One of the earliest examples of a shirt, was discovered in an Egyptian tomb by the Egyptologist Sir Flinders Petrie, in 1913. It is made from linen spun from flax fibres – as was nearly all Ancient Egyptian cloth – and dates from around 3500BC. It’s safe to assume that there was more than one example made, so clearly, the shirt goes back a long way. The fact they’re still very much a fixture of men’s wardrobes today, means it’s unlikely they’ll be going off the style agenda anytime soon.

Portrait of a Renaissance man by an unknown Flemish artist, c.1524. The subject wears a linen shirt typical of the day.

1500AD

Throughout the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance, shirts were regarded as underwear, providing a washable barrier between the skin and outer garments, which were never laundered – largely due to the labour involved in the weekly wash before the advent of washing machines and also because people weren’t as particular about their personal hygiene as we are now. This idea of the shirt as underwear is still evident today – in certain formal situations, such as black-tie dinners, weddings or race-meetings (think Royal Ascot), it is still considered bad form for a gentleman to remove his jacket and show his shirtsleeves; particularly in the presence of ladies. Back in the day, it was the equivalent of swanning into the office in your boxers and not much else.

At this time, shirts didn’t have buttons either – they were simply slipped over the head and were made of much coarser linen than we would be used to now. Shirts were also viewed as a status symbol on account of their expense – they were so highly prized, in fact, they were sometimes given as wedding dowries in lieu of cash.

A portrait of an artist’, by Michel Martin Drolling, 1819. The subject wears a high-collar regency-era shirt

1827

In 1827, an American housewife by the name of Hannah Montague, became so fed up of scrubbing the grime from her husband’s shirts on a daily basis, that she decided to take a pair of scissors and cut the dirty collars off. Far from being an act of sartorial vandalism, this was a significant moment in the history of menswear. Mrs Montague had invented removable collars – which she could exchange for clean ones, without the need to launder the entire shirt. The detachable collar soon came to be widely adopted and offered the illusion of wearing a fresh shirt every day (which Mr Montague insisted upon), as only the collar would be on show. It also gave the impression of owning more shirts than you actually did, due to the ability to switch collar styles each morning, depending on your mood.

Victorian dandies wearing stiff-collar shirts and cravats of the period, The Gentleman’s magazine, January 1870

1871

Around 1871, the shirt came to take on the form we’re familiar with today. Buttons were incorporated into the design for the first time – with this feature originally patented by London tailor, Brown, Davis and Co. The precursors to modern collars also made their debut around this time.

It’s always been a sign of prestige to wear white shirting, as you would a decent amount of capital to employ staff to keep them looking pristine. It was about this time that the expression ‘white-collar worker’ came into being, denoting someone who was wealthy enough to maintain a clean, respectable appearance and not engage in the sort of dirty manual work which could soil a clean white shirt.

Cluett and Arrow advertisement by J.C. Leyendecker, showing striped shirts with removable collars, 1907.

1900

As we’ve already learnt, the white shirt was always held in high regard by style purists. Printed styles were viewed with suspicion – they could conceal dirt more easily and allowed one’s hygiene standards to slip. By the 1900s however, fashion prevailed and striped and patterned designs began to be more widely accepted. The white shirt still continued to reign supreme in business and formal evening dress, though.

Illustration from Esquire magazine of men’s shirts and accessories, November 1936

1930

By the 1930s, the pace of life was becoming ever faster and the modern world as we know it was beginning to take shape. Men no longer had to time to fiddle with collar studs to attach removable collars (or the funds to employ a manservant to do it for them) and fixed shirt collars became the norm – the blueprint for today’s shirts was bor

John Hamm as Mad Men’s Don Draper,
wearing a 1960s shirt with a chest pocket.

1900

Although they had been around since the 1920s, chest pockets became a more common feature on shirts during the 1960s as the advent of central heating caused a decline in the popularity of the three-piece suit. In the absence of a waistcoat and its many pockets, they provided a little extra storage space.

Luca Faloni linen Portofino shirt in sage green

2014-present

Luca Faloni revamps the linen shirt for the modern man with his signature Portofino design. While still respecting the techniques of traditional shirt making, the brand has added its own touches that make the Portofino style a go-to for the discerning dresser.

Details like its subtle cutaway ‘Paramontura’ collar – which makes it look equally good worn with or without a tie – alongside premium fabric and mother-of-pearl buttons are a testament to the label’s fine Italian craftsmanship.

And the fact it comes in linen, brushed cotton and oxford cotton means it’s a piece for all seasons. In short, it’s the type of shirt the men of yesteryear would have given their right arm to get their hands on – although we might be a tad biased, perhaps.

Hollywood icon, Gary Cooper in a crisp white shirt, on the set of ‘The First Kiss’, 1928

There is perhaps no other item of apparel that defines a man’s style quite like the shirt – they’ve been a staple of men’s wardrobes for as long as anyone can remember and although athleisure types would probably beg to differ, it’s difficult to imagine a world without them.

Like most things that have stood the test of time, the shirt’s evolution was a slow and steady affair over millennia, but there are certain milestones in its development worth taking note of, which we’ve helpfully rounded up here.

An illustration of Ancient Egyptian linen attire from ‘The Costumes of All Nations’, 1882.

3500BC

One of the earliest examples of a shirt, was discovered in an Egyptian tomb by the Egyptologist Sir Flinders Petrie, in 1913. It is made from linen spun from flax fibres – as was nearly all Ancient Egyptian cloth – and dates from around 3500BC. It’s safe to assume that there was more than one example made, so clearly, the shirt goes back a long way. The fact they’re still very much a fixture of men’s wardrobes today, means it’s unlikely they’ll be going off the style agenda anytime soon.

Portrait of a Renaissance man by an unknown Flemish artist, c.1524. The subject wears a linen shirt typical of the day.

1500AD

Throughout the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance, shirts were regarded as underwear, providing a washable barrier between the skin and outer garments, which were never laundered – largely due to the labour involved in the weekly wash before the advent of washing machines and also because people weren’t as particular about their personal hygiene as we are now. This idea of the shirt as underwear is still evident today – in certain formal situations, such as black-tie dinners, weddings or race-meetings (think Royal Ascot), it is still considered bad form for a gentleman to remove his jacket and show his shirtsleeves; particularly in the presence of ladies. Back in the day, it was the equivalent of swanning into the office in your boxers and not much else.

At this time, shirts didn’t have buttons either – they were simply slipped over the head and were made of much coarser linen than we would be used to now. Shirts were also viewed as a status symbol on account of their expense – they were so highly prized, in fact, they were sometimes given as wedding dowries in lieu of cash.

A portrait of an artist’, by Michel Martin Drolling, 1819. The subject wears a high-collar regency-era shirt

1827

In 1827, an American housewife by the name of Hannah Montague, became so fed up of scrubbing the grime from her husband’s shirts on a daily basis, that she decided to take a pair of scissors and cut the dirty collars off. Far from being an act of sartorial vandalism, this was a significant moment in the history of menswear. Mrs Montague had invented removable collars – which she could exchange for clean ones, without the need to launder the entire shirt. The detachable collar soon came to be widely adopted and offered the illusion of wearing a fresh shirt every day (which Mr Montague insisted upon), as only the collar would be on show. It also gave the impression of owning more shirts than you actually did, due to the ability to switch collar styles each morning, depending on your mood.

Victorian dandies wearing stiff-collar shirts and cravats of the period, The Gentleman’s magazine, January 1870

1871

Around 1871, the shirt came to take on the form we’re familiar with today. Buttons were incorporated into the design for the first time – with this feature originally patented by London tailor, Brown, Davis and Co. The precursors to modern collars also made their debut around this time.

It’s always been a sign of prestige to wear white shirting, as you would a decent amount of capital to employ staff to keep them looking pristine. It was about this time that the expression ‘white-collar worker’ came into being, denoting someone who was wealthy enough to maintain a clean, respectable appearance and not engage in the sort of dirty manual work which could soil a clean white shirt.

Cluett and Arrow advertisement by J.C. Leyendecker, showing striped shirts with removable collars, 1907.

1900

As we’ve already learnt, the white shirt was always held in high regard by style purists. Printed styles were viewed with suspicion – they could conceal dirt more easily and allowed one’s hygiene standards to slip. By the 1900s however, fashion prevailed and striped and patterned designs began to be more widely accepted. The white shirt still continued to reign supreme in business and formal evening dress, though.

Illustration from Esquire magazine of men’s shirts and accessories, November 1936

1930

By the 1930s, the pace of life was becoming ever faster and the modern world as we know it was beginning to take shape. Men no longer had to time to fiddle with collar studs to attach removable collars (or the funds to employ a manservant to do it for them) and fixed shirt collars became the norm – the blueprint for today’s shirts was bor

John Hamm as Mad Men’s Don Draper,
wearing a 1960s shirt with a chest pocket.

1900

Although they had been around since the 1920s, chest pockets became a more common feature on shirts during the 1960s as the advent of central heating caused a decline in the popularity of the three-piece suit. In the absence of a waistcoat and its many pockets, they provided a little extra storage space.

Luca Faloni linen Portofino shirt in sage green

2014-present

Luca Faloni revamps the linen shirt for the modern man with his signature Portofino design. While still respecting the techniques of traditional shirt making, the brand has added its own touches that make the Portofino style a go-to for the discerning dresser.

Details like its subtle cutaway ‘Paramontura’ collar – which makes it look equally good worn with or without a tie – alongside premium fabric and mother-of-pearl buttons are a testament to the label’s fine Italian craftsmanship.

And the fact it comes in linen, brushed cotton and oxford cotton means it’s a piece for all seasons. In short, it’s the type of shirt the men of yesteryear would have given their right arm to get their hands on – although we might be a tad biased, perhaps.

Where to take your date

When it comes to creating a memorable evening, it is important to choose the right location for your date. The venue should have the right atmosphere, be sophisticated yet not obvious.

For example one restaurant we love in London is Luca, not only because of their familiar name. It has become one of the most talked about places, renowned for the perfect balance of intimacy, seductive dishes and electric atmosphere


Luca Restaurent, Clarkenwell London

There are two separate areas for booking, depending on the atmosphere you are going for: the bar is vibrant and fun with an aperitivo style menu which will make the date more relaxed. The main restaurant, however, offers a more traditional and formal atmosphere with a full course Italian menu and top notch service, the perfect environment to share a romantic meal. The overall style evokes a timeless sense of design that resembles a fashionable restaurant in Milan, acting as a perfect match for your Sprezzatura look.