Secrets of Sprezzatura: The Messed-Up Shirt Collar

Do your outfits look stiff and contrived? Do you have a tendency to wear matching pants and saddle shoes?

What you need is a dash of sprezzatura — deliberately calculated nonchalance — to give yourself a more devil-may-care, deshabille appearance.

Here’s a quick fix in three easy steps:

1) When you launder an oxford-cloth buttondown, keep the collar buttoned. As the shirt gets knocked around in the wash, then flutters in the autumn wind as it hangs on the clothesline, the back of the collar will inevitably come out of alignment.

2) Remove dry shirt from clothesline. Don’t iron it. Don’t fix the collar.

3) Put the shirt on and continue through your day as normal, completely oblivious — or at least feigning to be — of your messed-up shirt collar.

Image courtesy of the 1988 film “Mystic Pizza,” in which a married Yalie architect seduces his babysitter with wine, Mozart, and charmingly disheveled shirt collar. — CC

16 Comments on "Secrets of Sprezzatura: The Messed-Up Shirt Collar"

  1. No comment

  2. Laguna Beach Trad | October 31, 2009 at 4:16 pm |

    Funny, I never noticed the Yalie’s messed-up collar the few times I’ve seen the film. I guess I wasn’t paying close enough attention.

  3. I hate sprezzatura. Purposefully leaving buttons undone, shirt collars messed up, etc. is just stupid. Why not just walk around with your fly down? If you’re really just absentminded that’s one thing but planning to look this way is just ridiculous.

  4. haha way to rip on WASP 101 with the photo

  5. I was under the impression that sprezzatura conveys nonchalant grace, not nonchalant ineptitude.

  6. With Annabeth Gish in the scene, I never noticed, but if that’s what it takes…

  7. Just looked her up, as I never paid attention to that actress, and I don’t recognize her from anything else.

    But I see she was in “Shag.” I should watch that again; might be good for a post. Very Southern trad.

  8. It is my pleasure to provide you with amusement. You truly are ….

  9. lol…Christian, you’re funny.

  10. As one (the only?) of the handful of authentic preppies here, let me say that we always wear our clothes in a careless, nonchalant, casual way. Unless work requires it, we’re never neat, at least not until we’re middle-aged, when dressing like our teenage sons finally gets old.

    Unshined shoes. Salt-stained boat shoes with white athletic tape keeping the sole from flapping. Unbuttoned collars. Stapling your French cuffs. The crotch of your wide-wale courderoys floating around somewhere near your knees. Bungee cord working as a belt. Sweaters with four-inch holes in the elbows.

    That’s preppy, folks. (Sometimes) Expensive clothes worn in a way to suggest we spend our nights in a cardboard box under a bridge.

    It’s not looking like you stepped out of an advertisement. A 16-year old head to toe in Brooks/JPress clothes that are neat and pressed indicates he attends the finest private school in Modesto, not Groton.

  11. Reward offered to anyone who can produce a photo of a 16-year-old head to toe in Brooks/Press clothes that are neat and pressed.

  12. I enjoy how find ways to poke fun at wasp101.. I knew immediately who that photo belonged to. I enjoy your website, please keep up the good work.

  13. We have you cornered Cash! Put down the OPH, step away from your G&T and lay face down on the ground!

  14. “16 year old head to toe in Brooks/Press clothes neat and pressed”?
    Is that not a spot on psychological profile of “Richard” anyway?
    Many photos available at his blog.
    What a human dartboard. Amazing.

    He demonstrates and exhibits every quality of self centered arrogance
    coupled with insecurity and yet, you’re the one who is off balance in
    criticizing him,so he concludes.

    Thanks to some eccentric fellow doofballs who help him along
    with “positive” comments at his blog he remains deluded.

    Keep up the good work here at IVY STYLE.

    How WASP 101 garners any positive response from anyone is
    a backwards miracle.

  15. Chuck, that would be “lie” face down on the ground.

    Jinx, normally I wouldn’t approve a comment of someone speaking ill of someone else, but in Richard’s case I’ll make an exception because, well, he’s an exceptional guy.

  16. Ouch – it’s an interesting point about relaxed wear, but why did take a dig at wasp 101? He has interesting posts, even if richard disagrees with him.

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