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Fashion weeks have long been a fount of inspiration, as street style photographers jostle to capture the best shots of models, it-girls and influencers. The phenomenon, which happens biannually across the major fashion capitals, highlights the best of womenswear. Menswear has its own equivalent with Pitti Uomo, where industry insiders gather in Florence.

But while fashion week is often driven by trends, Pitti Uomo celebrates the best of timeless menswear styles and the undying appeal of classic suiting. Dressed to the nines in their best threads, many of the event’s attendees have perfected their personal styles. The phenomenon has been so noteworthy that a satirical documentary, The Life of Pitti Peacocks, highlights the nuanced ways that these men have refined and perfected their appearance for the camera.

Central to the style at Pitti is the idea of ‘sprezzatura’, an Italian term loosely defined as ‘studied carelessness’. Applied to menswear, it means looking immaculately polished without appearing as if one has tried too hard. This definition may seem vague, because it undoubtedly is. In fact, it is more of an art rather than science, dependent on some basic principles, mixed with personality, confidence and the bravado to break a rule or two in the process. Here’s our take on those principles.

Dress for comfort

One key component of appreciating sprezzatura is recognising how clothes can make you feel. For example, garments that unnaturally restrict your everyday movements should be avoided, because any discomfort is undoubtedly reflected in appearance. Instead, opt for pieces that make you feel good.

Sprezzatura-inspired looks from Trussardi Elegance’s Spring Summer 2019 collection, available at Harvey Nichols

‘Comfort is extremely important,’ explains Enrico Remedi from menswear brand Trussardi Elegance. ‘We make our collections using fabrics with a bit of give, and the silhouettes for our outerwear pieces tend to expand. This guarantees that men can feel relaxed and well-dressed all day long.’

Italian menswear designer Gabriele Pasini, whose eponymous label is stocked at Harvey Nichols, develops this idea of comfort further, and emphasises the importance of feeling put together. ‘For me, comfort means having a blazer that fits properly, whatever the fabric. Just because something is made out of stretch wool doesn’t mean it’s comfortable. Comfort comes from the quality of the cut.’

Italian menswear designer Gabriele Pasini, available at Harvey Nichols, focuses on the quality his cuts

In a suit, this means having certain areas that are more generously constructed and other parts that may be more fitted. For example, if you have broad shoulders you should look to buy a blazer with extra room to move your chest and arms. By that same token, that blazer may need to also be fitted around the torso to create a flattering hourglass shape.

Pasini demonstrates how to look immaculately polished without appearing to have tried too hard

Keep it natural…

Another important aspect of the effortlessness behind sprezzatura is creating outfits that you’d naturally wear. Each outfit should help you feel like the best but most natural version of yourself. John Yuen, co-founder of multi-brand Star Street boutique Sprezzatura has some crucial advice in this area. ‘The one tip we pass on to our customers is to identify the pieces that they really love in their wardrobe. After that, they key is to integrate the pieces into your day-to-day needs, and build your wardrobe and looks around it.’

One example is Sprezzatura’s Urban Traveller series from Slowear. The line suits the warm and humid conditions of Hong Kong, since it’s made from breathable, high-performance fabric. The trousers can be paired with a Circolo blazer and a Sunspel T-shirt for a smart weekend look. For chillier weather, add a cosy knit from Inis Meáin.

…but unexpected

For an element of surprise, and to keep things personal, sprezzatura should also involve something that feels unexpected. Perhaps it’s a hat, a pair of glasses, a colourful tie – it should be something that can help you break out of your comfort zone. Elisabetta Canali of Canali explains that ‘Italians don’t like being restricted to a rigid set of rules – they like to express their creativity freely in all aspects of life. This is the essence of sprezzatura – making things look effortless.’

Italian menswear brand Canali embraces this art of making things look effortless

The crucial point to remember is to ensure that even those unexpected pieces should feel like a natural extension of your personality. Someone who has an exuberant presence is more likely to successfully pull off a colourful suit. Another man who is cultured and well-read may have more leeway when experimenting with eyewear. So ensure that your personality, and all of its wonderful quirks, come through.

As Pasini says: ‘We should all dress for ourselves, not for others. I think it’s great to create a personal identity by blending pieces that don’t obviously work together. I think this is the future of style.’