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Style February 2nd, 2024

How To Master The Art Of Elegance

Style February 2nd, 2024
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Elegance is defined as “pleasingly graceful and stylish in appearance or manner.”

In the very first post of our Rome in Black & White series, I mentioned that if I had a mantra for 2024, that it would be to thoroughly embrace elegance as a way of living. There’s a certain ease, effortlessness, and quiet confidence displayed by those who I would consider to be elegant. And it’s that sense of subtlety, humility, and grace that I find most attractive and something worth aspiring to on a daily basis.

When considering elegance, however, there are a couple of common misconceptions. The first is conflating elegance and wealth or social status. In other words, mistakenly thinking that one must be of a certain social class or be obscenely rich to exude elegance. The second is that one can only be elegant when wearing formalwear. I realize that my attire in this post is not doing any favors in terms of the latter stereotype — more on that below — but the fact is that there are ways that anyone, no matter who you are, can embrace elegance and I’m about to tell you how.

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The Elements Of Elegance: A Guide For Men

Let’s break down the essence of elegance into five actionable categories that any man can incorporate into his life. These elements aren’t just about the clothes you wear, but more importantly, they reflect a particular demeanor, how you carry yourself, and how you interact with the world around you.

It’s about quality over quantity, attention to detail, developing good grooming habits, crafting a unique personal style, and understanding social etiquette. By mastering these elements, you can elevate not just your style, but your entire persona, projecting an image of grace, sophistication, and confidence — the very definition of elegance.

Prioritize Quality Over Quantity

You’ve likely heard the expression “buy less, buy better.” Well, it’s one of the most important aspects of embracing elegance in your life. Simply put, a quality item just looks and feels different and better. You’ll recognize it and so will others. Resist the urge to purchase impulsively. Take things slow, do your research, and buy the very best quality that you can afford. Invest in a few high-quality pieces such as a well-fitted suit, a good pair of shoes, and a versatile watch that can elevate any outfit. Quality clothing lasts longer and often fits better. And while it may be more expensive as an upfront investment, it will definitely be more cost-effective in the long run.

Pay Attention to Detail

Another common misconception about elegance is that it comes naturally. While it’s possible that some people are born with a curiosity and demeanor that lend themselves to being more elegant than others, let me actually let you in on a little secret — although it might look effortless, there is a lot of effort and care being put into that appearance. Now, it’s all done behind the scenes in the privacy of one’s own dressing room, but I’ve seen the level that some of my most elegant friends put into the details of their outfits, in particular. The trick is to make it appear effortless. And therein lies the art of elegance. Practice lots and obsess as much as you desire, but don’t let that show when you are out in the world.

Practice Good Grooming

People who look elegant take great care of their appearance and ground zero for that is developing, practicing, and maintaining good grooming habits. Whether you think it’s “right” or “fair” or not, the truth is that we’re all constantly being judged. Think about it. If an unkempt version of you stood next to a polished, well-groomed, and well-dressed version of you, who do you think would get better service? That’s called a rhetorical question. Regularly maintaining facial hair, keeping your hair well-styled, and taking care of your skin can greatly enhance your elegance.

Develop a Signature Style

Identify what types of clothing and accessories best fit your personality and body type, and build your wardrobe around these items. Elegance is not just about wearing the right clothes, but perhaps more about developing a unique personal style. This includes understanding what colors, cuts, and styles work best for one’s body type and personality. Being recognized for a style or signature item makes you exceptionally unique.

Be Mindful of Etiquette

Good manners and a proper understanding of social etiquette go hand in hand with elegance. Whether it’s knowing which fork to use at a formal dinner or how to properly introduce someone, being well-mannered and polite in all situations can greatly enhance your elegance because, as we’ve made clear, elegance extends beyond appearances. Cultivating good manners and treating others with respect can make you appear more elegant in any situation.

Dressing Elegantly With Formalwear

While it’s most certainly possible to apply the five elements of elegance above to any particular style, it’s very easy to express with formalwear. Why is that so? Formalwear for men is seen as elegant because it is so simple. Because of that simplicity — and because there aren’t too many variations within formal dress codes — correct fit and mindful details come front and center when putting a formal look together.

Let’s talk about details here as they relate to my dinner jacket and accessories.

For me, there is scarcely a more elegant dinner jacket option than an off-white or ivory dinner jacket. From Rick Blaine’s famous double-breasted version in “Casablanca” — which, of course, served as the inspiration for my own wedding dinner jacket — to countless other examples, there’s a classiness to it that is nearly impossible to beat. The devil, or elegance, however, is in the details when it comes to this particular dinner jacket.

First and foremost is the fabric it’s cut from — bamboo. Sometimes called California cashmere, bamboo is extremely soft and luxurious, not to mention light and breathable. The first time I felt it — both in my hand and while wearing — I simply couldn’t believe how amazingly luxe it was. It moves with you and has an amazing texture and depth that only deepens its elegant appearance.

In terms of my accessories, each was chosen intentionally with great thought and care. The cufflinks are vintage and are monogrammed will an ‘S’ for my last name. The watch, my Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso (medium size, for those wondering), is the perfect watch for formalwear and has a hidden detail engraved on the back of the watch face, a quote from Nick Charles, my favorite fictional detective: “A dry martini you always shake to waltz time.” The patent shoes are Belgian loafers, which I file under the IYKYK category. The pocket square, from Charvet, is off-white, a bit more subtle than pure white, which could be jarring.

I mention all of this to underline the point I made earlier in the post about elegance appearing outwardly effortless, but the result of almost obsessive consideration and study.

The Bottom Line

Always remember that elegance is not solely about the clothes you wear, but rather it encompasses your demeanor, grooming habits, and social etiquette. It’s about being mindful of details and prioritizing quality over quantity. Whether you’re dressed in formalwear or casual attire, embracing elegance can enhance your persona and make you stand out in a crowd. Elegance is a journey, not a destination. It’s a way of being and a way of living. It requires practice, patience, and persistence. Use the tips from our guide to elegance to start today and enjoy your personal journey towards mastering the art of elegance.

Thanks, as always, for reading.

Stylishly Yours,

Brian Sacawa

Brian Sacawa is the Founder of He Spoke Style and one of the original men’s style influencers. Since 2013, his goal has remained the same: to provide men the advice and inspiration they need to dress well, develop their personal style, and gain more confidence. Brian’s interest and passion for men’s style and luxury watches has led to his writing for The Robb Report, The Rake, and Sotheby’s and he has been quoted on menswear in publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Today.com, Brides Magazine, and the Huffington Post. He lives in the woods north of Baltimore with his wife, Robin, kitties Nick and Nora, and German Shepherd/Collie mix Charlie.

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Edited by Rachel Butler

Photography & Videography by Rob McIver

Video Color Grading by Ian Johnston

Location by Palazzo Barberini

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