tobacco linen jacket drakes3

Drake’s will always be best known for their ties, then handkerchiefs, then perhaps knitwear. But for the past few years they have also been doing a nice little range of jackets in the Clifford Street store that deserve attention. (£895-£995)

When Drake’s first started doing tailoring, there were few soft-shouldered jackets around. The Italian high-street brands are always a little sharp and flash, and the Neapolitans (mostly Kiton) were ludicrously overpriced. 

There is more now, particularly online – Formosa, Stile Latino, Eidos etc (the latter available in Trunk for the first time this season). But the Drake’s aesthetic has always been a little different. There was more heavy cotton and tweed in the winter; more linen and denim now in the summer. It is a slightly more rumpled, more English look. To wear with chukka boots and cardigans.

Copy of 2016_01_05_DrakesSS16_Shot23_084 drakes denim jacket2016_01_05_DrakesSS16_Shot21_041

The jackets all have a floating (half canvas), hand finishing around the collar and sleeve, and a neat unlined look inside. They are made by Belvest, which makes to an excellent level. (See my piece on the background to Belvest here.)

In fact, one of the nice aspects of the jackets is how they bring the Drake’s story full circle. As those who read this 2012 Permanent Style post (or The Finest Menswear in the World book) will know, Michael Drake and his team founded the company while agents for Belvest outside Europe. 

Michael forged the market for Belvest tailoring in the US, but eventually left to concentrate on the scarves and then ties he had been accessorising with those Belvest jackets. The two companies have remained close ever since. 

When Drake’s originally launched its jackets, they were made by Caruso. But as Mike Hill and his team developed the block and style they wanted for the tailoring, they found they needed more flexibility – and headed to Belvest. 

As a result, the Drake’s jacket is just as soft-shouldered as any Italian competitor, but is a touch longer and has a few recognisable quirks – such as the ticket patch pocket on the right hip (very useful for a mobile or small wallet). 

Tobacco linen jacket drakes

Drake’s also offers a pretty comprehensive alterations service, which is one reason I’m happy to recommend them alongside the made to measure and bespoke I normally write about. 

The jackets can be let in or out at the waist (as far as the inlay allows), have their sleeves shortened or lengthened (from the cuff or shoulder) and even do things like square the back neck if it is sitting away. 

There is also a made-to-order service that is being tested out at the moment, and will be fully launched later in the year. Under that, customers will be able to pick from a range of fabrics and tweak the block more than with simple alterations (though not as far as to really call it made-to-measure). 

More than anything, I recommend looking at the Drake’s tailoring on the basis of style. I know there is a sizeable section of the readership that doesn’t have the budget or time for bespoke – but wants a jacket to wear when all around him are in T-shirts and jeans. 

They should consider the tobacco-brown linen jacket shown here (very similar to my Sartoria Langa one that is so popular), the natural linen, and the indigo cotton (below). The latter in particular is a nice option with chinos or flannels, and an open-necked shirt. 

Drakes Single-Breasted Indigo Cotton Jacket

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I was just thinking about one thing the other day while reading one of your posts- is there any tailoring you use nowadays that is off the rack or MTM, or do you only wear bespoke pieces?

Would you, for example, purchase any of the jackets above?



Thanks for a quick answer!

Just purchased a navy jacket in linen from Caruso the other day, very much alike the ones above except for the ticket-pocket (which is a very nice detail that I know envy the ones who buy these jackets). Anyhow I think the most important details for me, construction and length of the jacket, looks pretty much the same.

But to follow up the previous question, do you buy anything that is ready made (except from accessories) ?


I’ve looked at them longingly on a number of occasions but unfortunately Drakes do not offer longer (or shorter) sizes in any of their tailoring.


Can’t speak highly enough about Drakes jackets (especially so since the move to Belvest). Drakes consistently offer a great selection of cloths / finishes in a really super block. My wardrobe is largely off-the-peg – previously Boglioli and Caruso. Drakes are a step-up for me and I certainly appreciate the slightly longer length. Typically, I pick-up one or two of their jackets each season and will be keen to try the made-to-order service too.

Hi Simon,
I recently heard that Drake’s is now owned by the Armoury in Hong Kong. Are you aware whether this is true or not. Paul


Thanks for this post. I bought a Ralph Lauren pure linen navy jacket, but to my horror, the dye rubs off on my shirt collars and sleeves and the waist area of my trousers. I’ve since soaked the jacket twice with cold water (nothing visibly averse has happened to the jacket, luckily) but the dye still rubs off on the clothes I wear underneath. I’ve taken it to the dry-cleaners, who told me they couldn’t do anything. I am currently wearing it with my old clothes, hoping that I could rub out all the excess ink this way, before wearing it with my nicer (and light-coloured) clothes in time for summer. I would appreciate it greatly if you could advise me if this idea would work, or if you could suggest a better idea. Thanks!


Thank you for your quick reply. No there is no warning, but I’ve only started noticing the marks after having the sleeves altered, before which I never wore it long enough for the dye to rub off. I’ll just keep wearing it now with old clothes then. Thanks again!


J, I’ve had success soaking raw denim in a white vinegar solution. The acidity of the vinegar helps pull out excess indigo dye (so your garment will perceptibly lighten & stink of vinegar for a few days) but the dye doesn’t rub off after that. I use a 4:1 ratio.


I had a similar problem with a M2M jacket purchased from a reputable tailor 2-3 years ago. The dye used on the lining did not appear to be colourfast and consequently left marks on my white shirts every time I perspired.

I assumed that the problem would correct itself but, several ruined shirts later, I decided to have the thing re-lined. I would suggest that you either look into this as an option or just return the thing. In the long-run it will be less costly have having re-purchase a wardrobe’s worth of new shirts.


Hey Simon I already own a ring jacket navy wool sportscoat from the Armoury that is a wool hopsack s120 that has a sheen and quite formal. Am looking for a more casual navy cotton blazer that I cna knock around. Am looking at 2 options from drakes as belo.w. The games blazer looks fun but I’m wondering if the more conventional navy blazer may be more versatile in the long run though I’m wondering if that duplicates with the navy jacket I already own..


I had a Hugo boss indigo linen shirt years ago and the colours ran on that constantly despite numerous washes. Last item of their that i bought

Roy Gardner

Hi Simon,
I’m thinking of purchasing a Drakes jacket – either the navy linen or the navy basketweave. In your experience, is basketweave likely to be less robust and prone to snagging?


Do soft shouldered jackets pair well with shirts with a taller, more structured collar? My bespoke Turnbull & Asser collars are taller than an off-the-rack collar due to my height and longer neck.


Thanks Simon, really interesting.

I recently bought a Belvest jacket online. I had presumed it would be fully canvassed, but it turned out not to be. It was half canvassed instead. Although the cloth was lovely, it simply didn’t have the same feel and movement as a fully canvassed garment: the layer of fusible made it feel noticeably more rigid and unnatural. I know that Belvest make to a variety of different standards depending on who they are manufacturing for. Perhaps I’m being picky, but I probably wouldn’t purchase one of their half canvassed models again.

I have bought a jacket from Drakes before. It was a while ago and I believe it was manufactured by Santandrea (St Andrews) Milan. It is fully canvassed and the cashmere/silk cloth is lovely. It isn’t as casual or stylish as the present crop, but judging from my (admittedly, single) previous experience of Belvest, it’s probably made better.


Ah, I must be misinformed on both counts. My impression that a “half canvassed” construction necessarily implies the use of fusible on the lower part of the front of the jacket was from posts such as this well-known one:
Admittedly, he does say that there are variants on half-canvassed construction. In any event, the Belvest jacket I was talking about certainly did contain fusible, so it probably merits checking before buying.


Is there a way to tell from product descriptions if the half-canvass is fused or sewn? I assume “floating canvas” means sewn but are there other terms that are used?


I would never buy a half canvassed jacket … especially at this price point, its just too expensive and there are better options IMO from places like Canali who use a free floating canvas I believe.

Drakes make a nice tie and scarf, not so sure about their tailoring though, its neither fish nor fowl as they are drawing from Italian and English styles leaving a confusing odd product. Everything there is just too expensive in addition .. £125 for tie (going up to £150) .. scarves average at £275 .. gouging the card carrying iGent customer base if you ask me.


Is there a meaningful difference between what is commonly referred to as a “soft shoulder” versus a “natural shoulder?”


Hi Simon,
This introduction to Drake’s jackets is a good idea. To me, over the years Drake’s have managed to remain consistent in offering high quality and tasteful products. One can close his eyes, then pick any item, open his eyes and find himself happy with it! Really!
I think the most important thing they have succeded in doing has been to tether their offerings to a core items of permanent style while being open to the zeitgeist. Consistently striking the right balance between the main style traditions – Italian, French and of course British – as if they were constantly in quest for an equilibrium, a point of juncture. Therefore, there’s always a cosmopolitan whiff in their products. Do you remember their raincoat? The design was not exactly British, even if it reminded us of Burberry’s or MacIntosh’s. The same holds true for their jackets.
You would wear one, and let people endlessly guessing where you come from.


i have been into the shop and seen that indigo cotton jacket. it is really lovely. The photograph does not really capture how lovely the material/colour is


I find this price point difficult, it’s not cheep and is starting to verge into is it worth going for bespoke? I appreciate bespoke will be double the price if not more. But I find the jump from £400 to £800 more difficult than £800 to £2k


One of the things you mentioned by the way caught my attention. Is it really possible to square the back neck if it is sitting away? I have that problem with a couple of jackets and have been given to understand it’s simply impossible to change on ready-to-wear.

Jason King

Lovely jackets. Simon, I don’t suppose you would have an idea when the Drakes summer sale will start? I assume it will be early July?




Hi Simon

I picked up a beautiful Drake’s jacket in brown Shetland wool yesterday. On top of the winter layers I was wearing in the shop (t-shirt, shirt and slim jumper) it felt great but trying it on at home with just a shirt and tie it feels quite roomy.

The shoulders are still good and the collar hugs the neck but I think I need to take in the chest, shorten the sleeves and slim the upper arms. Assuming these alterations can be done, my question is at what point do you think it’s just not worth doing alterations? Do you have a rule of thumb for number of alterations? Or does it just depend on how much you love the garment in question?

Thanks as always!


Where else can one purchase Belvest Simon?


Hey simon what’s your view on drake’s shirt and their quality?


Hi Simon,

Do you have any idea which mills Drakes tend to use? I have coveted one of their brown Prince of Wales jackets for a long time now, but they are now on sale (presumably being discontinued), and even the most extreme alteration couldn’t make what they have in stock fit me! I’m keen to buy a few metres of the fabric and have something made of it at a later date, but can’t figure out what bundle it might have come from.

Best wishes,



Thanks for the response. That would make sense. I’m sure there’s something similar floating around in the small orders market – the hunt begins again!

Marc Schmid

Hello Simon

Regarding the construction of the Drake’s jackets, i have a question:
Besides the canvasing, which is floating, there appears to be a very thin layer on the inside of the jacket, reaching from the chest to the bottom. It is of grey color, perforated and looks like being fused with the fabric. Do you have any Idea what this might be and if this is common among half-canvased jackets?
I have seen this on their Navy Open Weave Wool Jacket from their current collection, so I don’t know if their other jackets are equipped with it as well.

Best regards,


I’ll ask Drake’s themselves about that layer. As you say it would make sense to use this on lighter weight jackets. Seems there’s many different forms of full- and half-canvased respectively… Thanks for your thoughts on this!


Regarding the unknown layer inside the Drake’s jacket, I was told by their customer support that this is an membrane coating (so i guess it is being sprayed on the fabric, rather than laid like canvasing), and its purpose is to stop floating canvas from bunching and spoiling the lining of the jacket. They say it is fairly commonly used in half-canvased jackets – is it?


Would you know by chance which fabric brand Drake’s was using for the above beige/brown Glen Check jacket. Thanks!


Thank you, Simon!


Simon, I am considering to buy one of the Drakes Suits Mk I or II. Whats the difference in fit/fabric and what is your recommendation with regards to quality and/or alternatives?

Many thanks


Hi Daniel, I’m in the same position as you – been mulling the purchase of a mark 1/2 navy jacket since last year but never got round to it. I might do so once the mid year sale starts. As far as I know – there doesn’t seem to be much alternative. I’ve seen unstructured cotton jackets done by polo ralph lauren in the same style but I suppose drake’s quality is better. Do share your experience here if you do pull the trigger


Simon these are half canvassed meaning that the chest is floating but the rest is fused?


I see, thats a big help. Are these a floating or fused half canvass? Any idea Simon?


Do you own any of Drakes suits? What are your thoughts on the quality?


Hi Simon,

Do you know if Drake’s still has their jackets made by Belvest? I heard that they might have gone back to Caruso.



Thanks for the great content Simon !

What is the style you recommend for men with more athletic shoulders/chest but still narrow waist ?

I find that Drake’s suits me like magic (with a little bit a taking in on the waist) while Anglo-Italian feels completely unadapted to my shape.

I still have a strong preference for the softest shoulders possible, which perhaps means italian, but so far the italian or italian inspired brands I have tried don’t feel good on the shoulder/chest.

Thanks for the help !


Of course.

And if I were to try my first MTM or Bespoke soon, what would you recommend in the soft tailoring field ?

Rowan Morrison

Hi Simon,
I know this is a very old article, but do you happen to know if more recent Drakes jackets are still made in a way that they can be let out a little in the waist/chest? I have the opportunity to buy a lovely jacket second hand in size 38, which is a size that, while fitting me well on the shoulders and lengthwise, is sometimes a little right around my middle. (This was the case with a current season Drakes blazer I tried on in the store). A size 40 on the other hand is generally too wide for me on the shoulders.