Next, we look at how different elements of these can be combined in a Neapolitan suit – along with some idiosyncratic elements.
It is a cashmere-donegal jacket from Rubinacci, and is something of an outlier among all the pieces I have had made bespoke in Naples.
(As with all pieces in the series, the jacket was made bespoke in a standard house style – enabling us to compare how different bespoke tailors cut to one consistent body shape.)
House: Sartoria Rubinacci
Address: 96 Mount Street, London
Price (at time of writing): £4650 (incl VAT, vintage cashmere)
Suit starting price: £4900 (incl VAT)
The jacket was made in 2011 – the first piece I ever had made by a non-English tailor.
Rubinacci had recently established their shop on Mount Street, and were the only high-profile Neapolitan available for men in London.
They caused something of a fuss, with writers like Nick Foulkes becoming a big client, and The Rake covering the visits of Luca or Mariano Rubinacci consistently.
I was eager to try the Neapolitan style too, and commissioned a jacket in a vintage cashmere cloth that Mariano had in the shop. It is a lovely mid-brown, woven in a donegal flecked style.
I was measured by Mariano but travelled to Naples for my second fitting, following the advice of another customer who had had a poor experience just being fitted in London.
Fortunately, following this path my jacket turned out well, and it’s still something I wear regularly.
However, as alluded to in the introduction, the style is not what you might expect.
The most obvious point is the lapel. Every other Neapolitan tailor I have used has a straight lapel, actually looking a little concave as it bends into the waist button.
But the Rubinacci lapel is curved outwards. It has what a tailor would call ‘belly’.
This is a shape more normally seen on English suits (and, given how many suits are now made in an Italian style around the world, makes them look distinctive or antiquated, depending on your point of view).
The Rubinacci lapel is actually more curved than the English, as they tend to be slightly rounded at the waist button, and then straighten as they approach the collar.
Now, not every Rubinacci jacket has this style of lapel. Luca Rubinacci’s style exploits in particular mean his house varies more than most others.
It’s also noticeable that Luca used to have this lapel on his jackets more in the past than today.
But a customer should still be aware that this belly style might be the default – as it was for me – and that the variation means you have perhaps more choice than elsewhere.
Most tailors will make a lapel wider or narrower, but rarely want to change the shape entirely. (I’d also always recommend that customer don’t ask them to do so – stick to what the cutter knows.)
This Rubinacci jacket is abnormal in other areas too.
It uses the English-standard three layers of structure in the chest, including one layer of horsehair, where other Neapolitans use fewer and lighter layers.
Its shoulder padding is made up of three layers of wadding, which is not as much as the English, but still more than most Neapolitans.
And most unusual of all, it adds a small piece of wadding right at the end of my shoulder, to lift it up slightly as it approaches the sleeve.
Now as I have sloping shoulders, most tailors outside Naples will want to do something to compensate.
The English often add more padding; the French emphasise the roped sleevehead; the Milanese tailors and 1960s-influenced tailors like Edward Sexton or Chittleborough & Morgan add padding at the end of the shoulder – like this Rubinacci.
But my Rubinacci jacket is the only one to have a relatively lightly padded shoulder, and then add that kick at the end.
The effect is subtle on this jacket, because once there’s been that kick, the shoulder runs into the top of the sleeve very naturally.
The sleevehead there has no wadding whatever, making the cloth simply fall off the end of the shoulder. (And emphasising the ripples of cloth at the top of the sleeve.)
A final point of difference is the fronts (the line of either side of the jacket below the waist button).
These are quite closed relative to other Neapolitans, and again more similar to the English. Even the way they curve at the bottom is more anglicised.
Elsewhere, the shoulders themselves are quite narrow (5⅞ inches) but don’t really appear so given those wide, curving lapels and kick to the shoulder padding.
The sleeve is fairly generous for a Neapolitan tailor, although tapered towards the cuff.
And the jacket is quite fitted through the lower back, running closer to the body than many.
In fact that, the softness of the cloth, and being only half-lined are probably the biggest causes of the jacket looks a little short in the back, not fully covering the seat.
Style-wise, the jacket also has a few idiosyncrasies.
One of these is the curved hip pockets (shown above), which were something Mariano suggested to me at the time and I was happy to try.
His version of an English hacking pocket, they are unusual (I’ve only had it elsewhere from Timothy Everest) but over time I found I disliked them – particularly as the curved flaps are a little deep (2½ inches, where most would be 2¼).
As a result, I usually keep the flaps tucked in.
A last point is the sleeves, which we kept unlined.
This can be a nice thing on a summer jacket that you want as cool as possible, but only where the cloth is smooth and has less friction (eg cotton).
It’s a bad idea on a wool or cashmere. It’s a pain getting your arms in and out, and there is little benefit in coolness.
The other pieces I’m wearing with this jacket are: cream corduroy trousers from Pommella, a white linen handkerchief from Anderson & Sheppard, and my light-grey Friday Polo.
Grey is the one colour of Friday Polo with decent stock at the moment – although even there we have no mediums left.
The shoes are Belgravias from Edward Green – a loafer that fits me surprisingly well (the 184 last) given my narrow heels.
- Shoulder width: 5⅞ inches
- Shoulder padding: Moderate to light
- Sleevehead: No roping or wadding
- Sleeve: Moderate, tapered cuff
- Cuff width: 11 inches
- Lapel: 4 inches, curved
- Gorge height: 3⅞ inches
- Drape: None
- Outbreast pocket height: 10⅜ inches
- Buttoning point: 18½ inches from neck point
- Waist suppression: Slim
- Quarters: Quite closed
- Length: 30½ inches
- Back seam: Suppressed
- Vent height: 10¼ inches
- Trouser width at knee (not from Rubinacci): 19½ inches
- Trouser width at cuff: 17 inches
You can read more on the process of ordering the Rubinacci jacket in these old posts (I used to write more but much shorter posts back then!):
Photography: Jamie Ferguson @jkf_man
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