Thursday, February 25, 2010

Subtle Sprezzatura - Twisted Tie Knots

Growing up we were taught how to tie the perfect knot, and not just a perfect four-in-hand but the perfect Windsor, half Windsor and Prince Albert. Despite needing to know how to tie the perfect knot for particular occasions, such as business meetings, interviews and funerals, not in order of importance, we have found that in some instances the perfect knot is just that.

Rarely, do we want our outfit to look perfect, unless it is immediately followed with disheveled or a gorgeous woman is on the other end of the statement. Instead we find that adding a little bit of carelessness and nonchalance to the outfit is, much more intriguing. We find that looking a shade less than perfect, is in fact the way we end up with a gorgeous woman calling our outfit perfection. The key we have found to knowing the right amount of carefree sprezzatura to an outfit comes with knowing how to be perfect and then mucking it up. The planned and calculated mistake that gives an outfit a careless air is when we at Modern Dignified feel an outfit is complete.

A common tactic we have shameless stolen from one of the King of Sprezzatura style, is the twisted tie knot. This sprezzatura flair among other quirks helped crown Gianni Agnelli as one of the best dressed men in the history of the world. A shrewd business man and head of Fiat, Agnelli would twist his ties on purpose to make his competition and rivals underestimate his brilliance. Agnelli used sprezzatura fashion quirks as a way to lull his fellow businessmen into a false sense of security. It is with that planned dishevelment that we at Modern Dignified find so appealing.

The subtleness at which Agnelli twists his ties is amplified by the employees at Sid Mashburn in Atlanta, Georgia. At Sid Mashburn they take the sprezzatura of the past, take it out of the boardroom, make it modern and amplify it. Not only are the ties twisted but they do not have the "appropriate" length and the back of the tie is not secured to the front.

What makes the Sid Mashburn version of dishevelment so intriguing and stylish is that the colors, textures and fit of the outfit is impeccably arranged. The jackets are tailored with a nice Italian slim cut. The pants graze the top of the shoes, but are then rolled to show off the sockless ankles. The shoes are top of the line and more classic than you'll find in most men's closets. The entire outfit is Country Club appropriate, but it is done with a modern edge that would probably piss off the conservative codgers at the Country Club. And while all of these decisions are done with forethought, the outfit looks thrown together. As if each guy just happened to come up the perfect combination of colors and textures, it is sprezzatura in every way.

Mess with the tie, mess with the socks, mess with the colors, mess with rules of fashion, but whatever the means just make sure that you look far from perfect. Look perfectly imperfect.


  1. I went to prep school with Princely Count Vitus Sebastian Barbaro, the courtesy Baron dell'Albergo, back in the day, and he invented a knot that was unlike anything I have ever seen, a cross between a Windsor and a 4-in-the-hand. It had a unique look to it. Very rakish and dashing where the sides of the knot curved in a sprezzatura-like manner. He never told anyone how to knot it.

  2. The apple didn't fall far from the tree with Princely Count Vitus Sebastian Barbaro. His mother is Baroness Grace Talarico di Capace, and her family was involved with Emilio Pucci haute couture in Rome during the 1950's and 1960's. His mom is famous for her multi-colored eye (sectoral heterochromia), which in itself seems to be sprezzatura-esque. By all accounts both he and his family are quite stylish.

  3. If anyone knows how to tie the knot invented by Princely Count Vitus Sebastian Barbaro, please post. It is actually called the "Barbaro knot".