Interestingly, I am writing this piece due to a fallacy that I have seen propagated on the web by some who consider themselves to be experts on men’s wear. They throw around terms like bespoke, fly and sprezzatura, they throw around names of designers, and the like and they tout their Instagram, and Pinterest pages. They include well-crafted images that are quite laid out and so from a visual standpoint they make it seem that they really know men’s wear, these must be experts.
The word Sprezzatura is an old Italian word defined by Oxford Dictionary as studied carelessness, but basically means doing something extremely well without making any effort, mostly the buzz word today for stylish men and used in every men’s blog. The word usage has its origin with an Italian Writer named Baldassare Castiglione (1478-1529) in The Book of the Courtier, his aim was to instruct noblemen on the art of manners and how to comport oneself when courting a lady of nobility. The term Bespoke meaning custom or custom – made is an equally old English term that goes back to the 1580s and originally had several meanings but also included made-to-order goods, and now it is synonymous with custom-made men’s wear.
So quick history lesson, but the reality is that people telling you what is stylish and fly as compared to what is not stylish and fly does not hold any real validity. Today’s fashion and styles and what people deem to be chic is very interpretive some like skinny suits, others like sack suits, some do not like a break in their pants others do. The reality is there is no meter, no quantifiable rule or regulation that can say if your stylish or not, we reserve that right to people who see us and observe the way one presents him or herself visually to those whom we meet.
I do not consider myself to be an expert, but I feel that I had a good upbringing when it comes to wearing classic men’s wear. I have been wearing nicely constructed clothes since I was a teenager (I’m 56), raised in NYC I often purchased clothes from various places, like the Custom Shop that existed on Madison avenue, Wallachs, Brooks Brothers, Paul Stuart, Thomas Pink, Bally of Switzerland, Allen Edmonds, as well as smaller operations that existed on Delancy Street and other places in NYC that focused on bespoke and made-to-measure suits, pants, and shirts. I even remember going to Harlem (I’m from the South Bronx, over the Willis Avenue Bridge) like AJ Lester, Dapper Dan and British Walker in the ’80s when that was the place to go for those who consider themselves players (urban slang for guys who dress nice, stylish, but it had some bad connotations associated with it but I just like to dress nice).
I like a well-cut suit, I like well-made or constructed garments with high-quality materials. I items that fit well and are according to my body type, not skinny, not too big but one that fits well. So if someone says hey you look very nice, professional, then I know I put my outfit together well.
Of course, I look at books, review images on Instagram, and Pinterest, and I follow blogs like He spoke style, Permanent Style, Articles of Style, The Brooks Brothers Blog as well as blogs belonging to tailors, and fabric houses, these help me make choices based on styles that are similar to my own or articles of clothing I can see myself wearing, but ultimately that decision rest with me. So before I go, when you review these images on Instagram and Pinterest they are just meant to give you ideas in which to help you in making decisions regarding your appearance that you feel comfortable with.
In reality, style is very interpretive, so if someone is selling a measuring stick on how good you should look, or encouraging you to adopt a style they feel is it, maybe its time to do some research, you might realize you already made some good choices in your wardrobe, because every time you step out, people are telling you that you look nice and professional. The best and most simplistic way to judge your choice of fashion is the reaction of people and if you receive compliments for what you are wearing then you are being scrutinized by the best measuring stick you can have when it comes to your appearance.