Sprezzatura and the art of casual tailoring

Tailoring has long existed on the formal end of the menswear spectrum - at least in most people's minds - but it hasn't actually always been the case. The British were some of the first to take the classic blazer silhouette and mix it with sportswear. Think of the rowing blazers of the mid 19th century - these were used as warm-up jackets by Oxbridge oarsmen, who then had the sheer audacity to wear them to social events too! And thus a trend was formed. From there, the blazers relationship with sportswear became lifelong, with players of those most noble of sports - cricket and tennis - choosing to don the softly tailored (and sometimes knitted) blazer atop their respective whites.

But if the British invented sports lux way back when, the concept did not permeate into everyday suiting. The British have traditionally approached tailoring like it's a suit of armour, all structure, power and bravado, but for the Italians modern tailoring means something else entirely: unstructured sophistication that is less about 'smart' and more about casual sophistication. They even invented a word for it: 'Sprezzatura' - which first appeared in Baldassare Castiglione's 1528 The Book of the Courtier, where it is defined by as "a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it."

LAUREL JACKET EVERING TAUPE

LAUREL JACKET
EVERING TAUPE

TABLEY POLO SHIRT PAVIS SKY BLUE

TABLEY POLO SHIRT
PAVIS SKY BLUE

DRAWSTRING TROUSERS FALKE CREAM

DRAWSTRING TROUSERS
FALKE CREAM

Call him ahead of his time - Castiglione was calling out try-hards in the 16th century! We definitely side with him at Oliver Spencer, where we've always approached suits and separates with a relaxed nonchalance, preferring the soft drape of an unstructured blazer and the contemporary finish of a cropped trouser. Tailoring for us is about casual elegance and versatility. Just because a blazer conforms to the traditional shape and cut, doesn't mean you can't wear it with a t-shirt or polo and a pair of rolled up drawstring trousers.

Perhaps the reason why the Italian sartorialists have stolen a march on us is simply the weather. Predictably warm days for the best part of the year does help somewhat when it comes to dressing down tailoring. Suits fabrics become lighter, with less and less structure, and separates really come into their own, allowing you to integrate a multitude of different linen and cotton options on both halves of your body. At Oliver Spencer, we design all of our tailoring with this in mind. Even our suits often have more than one style of matching trouser, whether it's a drawstring, judo, or fishtail style. But the beauty of the tailoring collection is in the way you can mix and match the blazers and trouser styles. 

LAUREL JACKET HUCKFORD CHARCOAL

LAUREL JACKET
HUCKFORD CHARCOAL

FISHTAIL TROUSERS HUCKFORD CHARCOAL

FISHTAIL TROUSERS
HUCKFORD CHARCOAL

TABLEY POLO SHIRT PAVIS ECRU

TABLEY POLO
SHIRT PAVIS ECRU

This summer, we're thinking about the blazer as a smart-casual layer to wear with polos, tees, and shirts with a soft roll in the collar (the type you'd wear on a weekend, not to the office.) We're also thinking a lot about incorporating different textures into our tailored looks, which is why we've created suits in both organic cotton and a beautifully soft and slubby Irish linen. Both are extremely tactile and thus give your look that something else, especially if you're sticking to a muted tonal palette without much colour contrast.

THEOBALD JACKET FALKE CREAM

THEOBALD JACKET
FALKE CREAM

FISHTAIL TROUSERS FALKE CREAM

FISHTAIL TROUSERS
FALKE CREAM

TIE BUCKDEN PINK

TIE BUCKDEN PINK

Also don't be afraid to throw some curveballs into your tailoring this summer with the addition of shorts instead of trousers. Womenswear has stolen a march on the men by being so much more flexible and experimental in the way they have appropriated traditionally male tailoring tropes. There's no reason why you can't add a pair of linen shorts to a blazer to create a slightly bohemian tailored look. Ultimately, tailoring isn't there to hide behind. It's not that suit of armour anymore. It's a far more fluid and dextrous genre of menswear and that's why we continue to love making it.

Click here to shop all our tailoring options

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published