Manning & Manning suit – with an Italian Background

Friday, August 5th 2016
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The Italian Background: an awkward but persistently useful phrase I coined back in 2008 to describe the tendency of Italians to wear blue shirts and navy ties under strongly coloured suits.

Rather than the English alternative - bright shirts and ties under sober suits.

It was a lesson gleaned from hungrily consuming the street-style images of The Sartorialist, where every man in Milan was slowly riding a bicycle, in a finely pressed suit and a resplendent beard.

Those impressions have mellowed and deepened, particularly as I have got to know some of the people in the photographs. And worked with others that have a rather less showy, more mature style. 

However, the simple lesson of the Italian Background remains: a blue shirt and navy tie goes with almost anything, and provides the best foil for strong or brightly coloured tailoring.

cape horn holland and sherry bespoke suit

The most versatile of all, in my experience, is a plain-blue poplin shirt and large-knot navy-grenadine tie.

But for this tan summer suit from Manning & Manning, I went with a navy tie from Mattabisch (via The Armoury) in a madder-like chalky finish with a green/brown geometrical design.

It is paired with:

  • a blue shirt from Luca Avitabile
  • a white Simonnot-Godard linen handkerchief
  • tan cotton socks from Bresciani via Mes Chaussettes Rouges
  • and Top Drawer monk shoes in 'bronze' from Edward Green. (Wonderfully useful colour that - the best formal alternative to black I've found.)

SImon Crompton Savile Row suit

The suit, you may recall, was made by English tailor Bryan Manning - an ex-Kilgour cutter who now works by visiting clients, at the Holland & Sherry rooms on Savile Row and a basement workroom on Tottenham Court Road. 

Bryan offers two services - Semi-Bespoke and Full Bespoke - priced at £1000 and £1350 respectively, both inclusive of VAT. 

Both are cut by Bryan to a fully bespoke paper pattern, but the former has a fused chest piece and the latter a floating, hand-padded one.

This is the Full Bespoke. We only had one real fitting, with Bryan working closely from try-on jackets (full post on the fitting here), but then made a few alterations to the finished suit when it was ready. So effectively there were two fittings, just with more to be taken apart in between. 

Manning and Manning bespoke suit

As far as fit goes, the result is pretty good. Close around the neck and shoulders, clean through the top of the back, and nicely shaped through the waist. 

Bryan cuts a pretty traditional, strongly shouldered jacket, and you can see the structure around the shoulders in the images above. There's also a fairly large sleevehead and some decent drape in the chest, adding to that effect. 

I stick with my earlier impression at the fitting that the jacket is a little short - it would have been better if half an inch longer.

That would have fully covered the seat and balanced better with the strong shoulders. The pockets and buttons on the jacket should also have been moved up to cater for the shorter length.

Both things couldn't really be altered after the first fitting. Not getting them right then is partially my fault, although it is an advantage of more than one fitting. 

bespoke cape horn trousers

However, as I say the fit overall was good - the wrinkling and falling away on display here is largely due to the very lightweight cloth (Cape Horn, a high-twist wool from Holland & Sherry - not one I'd necessarily use again).

And we got the trousers to a good state after the alterations, with a nice narrow leg.

The finishing, on the other hand, was where the low price was most evident. The buttonholes on the jacket were rather thick (as shown below) and points like the gorge (where the collar joins the lapel) could have been neater. 

bespoke suit savile rowbespoke savile row Buttonhole close-up

It reminds me of what things like buttonholes used to be like on Graham Browne suits, when I first started using them years ago.

Back then clients didn't really seemed to care about finishing, and it was understandable that they didn't focus too much on it. Nowadays GB have plenty of blog readers going in, who really emphasise such things. 

Of course, the difference between Graham Browne and Manning & Manning here is that the canvas is hand-padded, and that is certainly worth paying for. A hand-cut, hand-padded suit for £1350 (even less without the VAT) is incredible value for money. 

Photos: Jamie Ferguson @jkf_man

manning and manning Lapel close up

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The Italian milanese style is also characterised by another style signifier: dark brown shoes with grey, blue or light suits. Black shoes are a recent entry due to the Anglo-Saxon influence


Hi Simon, who is your preferred choice at the ‘value’ end of the market? I have read your posts on a variety of these tailors including Manning & Manning, Whitcomb & Shaftesbury (classic bespoke), Graham Browne and others you mention. If you were to buy just one suit in from a tailor in this sector, who would you go to?

Jesus Gonzalez M.D.

Hello Simon
Given the similarity in price between Shaftesbury and Whitcomb Classic Bespoke and Manning and Manning Full Bespoke which would you recommend. Also what is the main difference between these two and Bespoke Suits and from the big name Saville Row Houses apart from the different house styles.


Simon – by “W&C” are you referring to Whitcomb & Shaftesbury?


Seeing the trousers, I wanted to ask if something similar in material and cut, but maybe a slightly more tan tone, would work as an odd trousers alternative to the ubiquitous Chinos? It just seems to me to be much better value and function to get bespoke trousers in fresco than cotton.


I have a pair of tan crispaire trousers and they are fantastically versatile


On the topic, would a midgrey lightweight flannel suit (in a formal and conservative cut) be appropriate for a late August wedding where dark suits are mostly going to be worn, both in regards to formality and weather? Thanks!


Hi Simon,

Considering that Manning & Manning’s full bespoke is similarly priced to Whitcomb & Shaftesbury’s classic bespoke, which one of the two would you recommend more?



Hi Simon,

I was under the impression cape horn was an 11oz cloth, is that considered light? or is there some other variable that makes it less desirable for suiting? thanks!

Kev Fidler

Simon, interesting and informative article especially for those of us thinking of entering the bespoke world – this price range is one I would feel confident about starting upon before considering the more eye watering costs of bigger houses. The overall look of this suit to me is good; yes your more experienced eye picks up that more desirable extra half inch in the length but there is nothing there that upsets the viewer. The jacket has a pleasing, quite contemporary look to me.
Useful observations about the shirt and tie combinations too – that blue on blue look is simple, very smart and far more desirable than some of the brash combinations you see out and about.


Whilst it’s fair to say that blue is still the default shirt color you could spend an age on the different depths of color, and texture of cloth, as it is in these details that things become interesting. The same applies to the tie also. Increasingly, Italians are turning to white shirting, and even with blue as the color of suit or coat, going with ties so dark they are almost black.


Hi Simon,
To me the fabric used for this suit is way better than the Solaro that surprisingly enough many guys find more appealing.
As to matter of taste and style, I also prefer this interpretation of the Italian background that is more elegant as it blends the best of Italian and British styles.


Excellent value; some comments and queries. 3/4 of an inch on the jacket length would be better? The trousers look to be well cut – how is the fit (often an issue that you mention)? In one image (front/half torso) there are creases in the chest near the sleevehead – is this cut or just the effect of pose? The jacket, though elegant, does not seem to have so much of the nipped in waist/flared skirt usually found in English tailoring – just the house style or your choice? Your choice of tie/shoes really lift the ensemble – is bronze a brown burgundy mix? One last don’t seem too enthused about the cloth…could you please elucidate? Thanks Simon.


Above in the photograph the shape of the back of your suit jacket matches my ideal.

Do you imagine such a shape of jacket is RTW available?


PS: Your criticism the length of the jacket doesn’t cover the trouser seat doesn’t seem to show on the photograph – what are you talking about ? ?


The height and proportion of trouser cuffs is beautiful i.e. perfect!


Don’t you think the upper half of the jacket sleeves are just a bit too wide?


You say you wouldn’t necessarily use the Cape Horn cloth again; why’s that? It sounded like a good alternative to Fresco.


Love the shoes. One of my favourites.


Do most bespoke tailors use a try on suit in the initial fitting?


Simon a quick question about grey flannel trousers:
can they be worn with just a v neck jumper or a cardigan or should I wear an odd jacket?


Hi Simon,
On the subject of cuffed trousers do you have any thoughts about proportions. For instance I was recently told that on pleated trouser one should be looking for a two inch difference between the width at the knee and the cuff at the shoe. Also with a size 10 shoe a 17 cuff should be expected. Your own trousers in this post look excellently fitted.

Thanks Paul


Thanks Simon,



Hi Simon

I love the website – although have a sense I’ve fallen down an expensive rabbit hole. I’ve been working as a lawyer in the City for a few years and gradually been developing a collection of better shoes and a rotation of suits (all otr).

I’m getting married in May and having a suit made for my wedding. It will be my first bespoke suit, mid -grey, quite conservative and traditional but I hope beautiful cloth and excellent fit, and something which I can then wear for work with a couple of pairs of trousers. This site will clearly be an invaluable guide. I took a recommendation on tailor from a partner for whom I work. The tailor also makes suits for other partners in the firm. My hope is this should offer a better chance that the style won’t be out of kilter with my office. As I said, I intend to keep the style quite conservative. I’m focused mostly on fit and cloth.

My question is this. I was planning to buy ties for my groomsmen and the wedding party to match my own (Hermes or possibly Drake based on your site and their photos, though I also have a soft spot for Ferragamo) which they could then keep as a gift. We will all wear grey suits. I’d rather spend money on a tailored suit and good ties as gifts than on hiring dismal morning wear. My question is do you think that matching ties is a step too far? I could instead buy each of them a subtly different tie. I’d be grateful for any thoughts /comments.

Many thanks



Hi Simon,

I like the colour of the suit in tan with a hint of olive. A great summer to have in a wardrobe but I am little hesitant when you mentioned that you would not use the fabric Cape Horn again as the fabric does hold shape for the trousers. If this is the case what alternative would you suggest? Maybe Crispaire?