‘SPREZZY’: a recent history of menswear

If you read my Sunday Links regularly, you’ve probably noticed quite a few posts from Four Pins up on there. Last Friday, editor-in-chief, Lawrence Schlossman, resigned to move onto new projects. Four Pins has published his history in personal style and it’s quite funny to realise how long I’ve been following him on social media… that first picture of him in the sportcoat? I remember when that was posted on his Tumblr blog years ago, How to Talk to Girls at Parties. I’m not going to talk about LawrenceΒ much here, because it feels stalkerish, but I’m going to use that gallery as a mini exploration of the past few years in menswear.

We first see Schlossman during his university years, dressing just like anyone else c.2004 would. This was before men’s clothing was really a ‘thing’ like it is now, high fashion was still seen as ‘metrosexual’ and not for the regular guy.

Notice how suddenly his style changes after that? There was definitely a massive revolution at the 2008-09 mark, when suddenly menswear blogs were everywhere, sharing outdated rules on how to dress, harking back to better days when men wore suits all the time, and there was a strong emphasis on Ivy League prep looks and heritage clothing. That then moved into a brief dip into heritage workwear. I mainly followed American bloggers, so my feeds were full of Bean Boots and lumberjack shirts. Probably handcrafted by people with pretentious beards in California or something.

It wasn’t long before people got bored of the stuffy and outdated rules that they were previously clamouring to fit into. Of course it was only natural, after a huge trend towards extremely casual fashion, starting from the 1980s, to yearn for some kind of formality and structure as a reflexive backlash, but there was a reason that we don’t dress with so many rules anymore, they simply don’t fit in with our modern lifestyles. Soon, we were enamoured with the Italians, ‘sprezzatura’ was the buzzword of the year, and Pitti Uomo was all anyone talked about. The relaxed tailoring that we see in pic. 14 of the article marked the beginning of the departure (or redeparture) of the strict rules that the menswear world had briefly revived.

Schlossman then embraces much more casual style, but in a for more flattering and grown-up manner. This has been the general trend in men’s clothing and as you can see, it’s he’s clearly approaching a comfort zone that is equal parts classic and modern, and he doesn’t at all look like he’s wearing a costume.

The final images in various all-black getups are absolutely great; you can see someone who’s totally in their element, and while it was great that there was a brief revival of ‘the rules’, it’s even better that they’ve been broken and played with to bring us to what we have today on the menswear scene. Elements of classic tailoring are still there, but there’s far more room to inject some personality without being sneered at for wearing the wrong type of tweed at the wrong time of year, and we’re really moving to a point where fashoin isn’t just for women or camp men, it’s for everyone.

Any observations to add?

– Niko

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