Sprezzatura – Well-Rehearsed Naturalness 

The Italian word ‘sprezzatura’ was first used by Baldassare Castiglione (1478-1529) in ‘The Book of the Courtier’, a classic of Italian Renaissance literature. Castiglione’s aim was to instruct noblemen on proper manners and comportment, all part of cultivating an elegant style while appearing natural and unrehearsed.  

Many people have made a very good living from their apparent ability to engage in witty repartee at the drop of the proverbial fedora. However, as most of you will already know, impressive as this is, there is very little spontaneity or improvisation involved. It is well rehearsed, scripted, and well produced theatre. Politicians are a case in point. In private they are often engaging and funny, but in front of the cameras they can appear wooden and tightly scripted. Heaven forbid we discover naturally talented, entertaining, truthful conviction politicians. 

Perhaps the most obvious example of “sprezzatura” is the ability for someone to look beautifully dressed when wearing outfits that look thrown together. As Dolly Parton once said, “It takes a lot of money to look this cheap”. This studied carelessness continues today with fashionistas wearing colours that deliberately clash, shoes but no socks, deliberately not tying ties properly, leaving sleeves unbuttoned, jeans worn with suit or dress jackets, wearing odd socks, the list goes on. It also covers things like grooming. Designer stubble is one of the most common displays of casualness, yet the time taken to appear casual and relaxed is often longer than it takes to shave. 

Sprezzatura is all about the ability to deliver your artistry or craft without much visible effort. It’s more a combination of elan, grace and class, rather than the screams and grunts beloved of our tennis stars. We expect ballerinas to float across the stage on gossamer wings and for their leading men to spin and carry them with effortless grace and silent emotion. We know this quality of performance takes blood sweat and tears over several months of rehearsal, yet the sheer artistry and theatre never fails to impress. The perfection of the performance is achieved by the apparent ease of movement which, in the moment, eclipses all the effort, torn muscles and pain it took to achieve it.    

Surprisingly, this attitude of careful, studied ease has specific application when serving others. It means providing a world class client service with genuine care and without any hint of a forced smile or, “You’re welcome, have a nice day” plasticity. It’s a much-valued skill that remains influential when you experience it. For example, when a waiter seems to know what you want before you order or makes you feel genuinely welcome and nothing is too much trouble, we make the restaurant “our place”, and we tend to leave a bigger tip.  

We want the people we trust to handle our affairs with effortless skill. To be engaging, likeable, and to deliver their service to the highest standards. But it must feel authentic, or we feel cheated. At Stewardship Wealth, we work hard at making things look natural, unforced, unhurried. There have been many years of burning the midnight oil studying for professional qualifications, practicing, writing and re-writing what we say and how we do things. It stems from a desire to deliver the highest quality of personal client service while putting our clients at ease, informed, and confident when making financial decisions. This palette of skills, experience and conviction in what we do is generously applied to the planning canvas. The long hours and hard work of wordsmithing has paid off if it has the appearance of being a relaxed, and enjoyable conversation. As Pulitzer Prize Winner Willa Cather said in the Bookman, “It takes a great deal of experience to become natural”.