Video: English and Neapolitan jackets compared

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This groundwork for this video was laid two weeks ago, when we examined the various aspects of the cut of a jacket.

It might be worth watching that first, if you haven't already. It showed the most important points of cut and structure, from the size of the shoulder to the curve of the lapel.

In this second instalment we build on that, compared two cuts in particular: the structured English and the Neapolitan.

I deliberately started with these two because they represent relative extremes in terms of bespoke style. This cut - the most common in the UK - features larger, more padded shoulders, a longer jacket, closed fronts and a slightly bellied lapel.

The Neapolitan, by contrast, has a small, unpadded shoulder, is shorter with open fronts, and has a straight lapel.

Many cuts sit in between the two - as we've outlined in detail in the Style Breakdown series on the pieces I've had made over the years.

However, it's not all contrast. I also point out that some things vary both in London and Naples, and are more down to the tailoring house itself, such as the drape or buttoning point.

 

 

I hope you find it useful.

Although there will always be advantages to articles over video (easier to search for and then search within, for example), it feels like some topics such as this one are particularly suited to a moving demonstration.

Other recent videos include:

In this video, I am wearing a green corduroy suit from Ettore de Cesare (cut rather closer than most I have), with a chambray button-down shirt from Luca Avitabile and a printed-silk Drake's tie.

The two jackets on show are from Kathryn Sargent and Eduardo de Simone.

Many thanks to Fox Brothers, who made this mini-series possible. More on their new Fox Tweed bunch here.

Film by Itch Media

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Ben

An excellent and timely post. Your depth of knowledge in these matters – coupled with a geniune willingess to share with the plebs – is astonishing. Bravo!

By the way, I often wonder how people can embrace something as unbiblical as donning clothes made of disparate fabrics. Haven’t you ever had any qualms about doing exactly that, Simon?

Anonymous

Only the combination of wool and linen is forbidden in the Torah/Old Testament, but I believe it’s only Orthodox Jews who refrain from wearing it (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shatnez).

E L

It is the two being woven together that is the problem. So, for example, a linen jacket with wool trousers is fine, assuming the linen jacket doesn’t have wool in it.

Matt

Most people aren’t bothered by such things as these superstitions aren’t a part of European culture.

Triskel

Fascinating, as ever. Could you, perhaps, produce a further ‘contrast’ video commenting on the length, the sleeve shape, the armholes and the vents?

Many thanks in anticipation.

Tim

Interesting video, I’d love to see you do more with this format

Slightly unrelated; have the colors been made more saturated, or are your eyes always this strikingly blue?

Hammarström Peter

Thank you. I always have been a bit confused. Crystal clear

DKP

@Simon doubtless, if one wants the more casual look of a Neapolitan cut jacket a Neapolitan tailor is the way to go but what about a drape cut from Anderson or Whitcomb? I ask because of the convenience of geography (being based in London) and in the case of Whitcomb specifically, cost.

Jason

I find your view on this a little perplexing and think you might have a bit of a blind spot.
Your DB cord A&S, I think it is one of the most relaxed louche suits – therefore in my view – one of the best in your collection and I don’t think you’ve ever commissioned an SB cord from A&S ?
I have a couple and I also have a linen SB, all of which I think are equally as relaxed as the Italians and certainly one of the cords I were regularly with jeans (the other by way of colour doesn’t work).
It would only be by putting the a cord single breasted A&S alongside an equivalent Italian offer that you could test my theory but, in my opinion, if you brief the right pockets and the right trouser width the A&S has a level of louchness that will please the discerning flaneur !

DKP

Simon – thank you for clarifying that point. In that case, who might you recommend for someone looking for a bespoke Neapolitan jacket that can be worn casually but is also conscious of cost?

DKP

Simon – thank you for clarifying. Of the tailors you’ve suggested, would it be true to say that Solito will cut a shorter jacket than say, Ciardi? Asking as I would prefer a jacket that fully covers the seat.

Dan

Hi Simon
I’d like to make you a consultation that’s somehow related to the post. Is there any relationship between the jacket button point and the height of the trousers? I usually see you talking about the proportions of the suit, you mean this relationship or proportions between the body and the shape of the suit or between the jacket/trousers?
I’m sorry if the questions are out of topic
Thank you very much.
Dan

Anonymous

Although usually Neapolitan tailors/jackets are more considered in terms of sports jackets or casual suits, certain more traditional tailors( I am thinking Ciardi, Rubinacci, Zizolfi) can cut a really classic and very comfortable formal suit. (Something similar to your Ciardi). I very much prefer my Neapolitan suits to those of drape cut, as I feel I am not trying so hard in a Neapolitan suit and I hate the bulk gathered in my chest of my A&S suit. I haven’t tried structured English as I feel it would come of as if I am taking myself a bit too seriously. And obviously Neapolitan tailors are great value compared to Savile row. The British do great formalwear though.

Anonymous

Dear Simon,
Would you recommend different suit styles in terms of age. I have a Ciardi jacket and a W&S suit and I feel my Ciardi jacket suits my age much better (I am 23). My next suit is in the works with Ciardi and is 12 oz navy twill which I am certain I would enjoy wearing, even a bit more than the W&S one.
Great video, although I don’t really like the choice for Neapolitan maker. I would have though you would have chosen Ciardi, Pirozzi, Caliendo or Solito as more typical examples.

Brett

I think the English drape cut and general Neapolitan style is what’s most relevant in today’s suit wearing population; at least that is my observation from an American viewpoint. I have certainly moved in the Neapolitan direction over the past several years and find the cut to be very comfortable, yet not always the most flattering. The drape cut, to me, is absolutely classic and more accommodating to a broad range of people. RTW in this style seems difficult to find and I often wonder why more English tailors don’t offer this cut off the rack, especially in the US. Paul Stuart, which does their own take on the style, is the only option I can think of off hand.

Kali

I do have a minor quibble about the comparisons- would it not have been better if one were comparing the two suits of the same materials. Here you use ( I think) a tweed coat for the neopolitan cut vs a pinstriped suit for the English. Off course the Neopolitan would look more casual. While I get the point you were trying to make I have to admit I was struggling to differentiate the two cuts as one being more formal than the other in style alone.

Christopher Lee

Is it safe to say that Neapolitan (and Italian) jackets are shorter as a rule than their English counterparts, as it appears in the video comparison? I would add that the open quarters also contribute to the impression of shortness

anon

Is the English jacket really as much longer as it appears in the photo? What is the back length of the 2 jackets?

ANM

Simon,

If Cary Grant were alive today, and had to film “North by Northwest” (part II ?!?!?), do you think he would still favour an English cut, or tend more towards an Italian (not necessarily Neapolitan) one? (I would speculate more towards an Italian look)

Which raises a secondary question – while one can see tradition in the various styles (broadly – English, vs Italian), have they in fact migrated towards each other, or in fact, switched places?

I also presume it depends on style, look purpose, etc. An English tweed jacket for skeet shooting, I presume would be more casual, than a Milanese business suit, etc..

Chancellor

Just want to add that I found this video immensely useful. Wish it had been around when I first was trying to learn the difference between English and Neapolitan jackets! Your article, “Which House Style are You?” was the best resource for that, until this video.

Matt

I enjoyed the video and was struck by how nice your suit looked. I will have seen it before on this site, but seeing it on video had a greater impact.

John

Hi Simon,
I just wonder whether weather shouldn’t be factored in when one is considering a suit to be made. I mean regardless of the fabrics being used, say, a Neapolitan suit for hot climes, and a British for the reverse.
John

Val

Simon, once upon a time you published a very interesting interview about the six-point evaluation of the quality of rtw suits. Please provide examples of who currently corresponds to the highest 6 points. Perhaps Kiton and Attolini? Are there any other manufacturers?

Anonymous

Is there any noticable difference between the shoulders of the neapolitan tailors (Solito, Dalcuore, Caliendo, Ettore de Cesare, Ciardi) you tried in terms of padding/canvas/felt when wearing these?

Anonymous

Yes, I have but I don’t understand the difference between for example “thin pad” (Dalcuore) or “canvas plus felt” (Ciardi and Solito)?

MCB

Hi Simon,

Over the last few days, I have been browsing rather engrossingly through the various articles you have posted over the years in terms of the differences between the two leading traditions of tailoring, namely: English and Neapolitan.

The experience, I am pleased to announce, has rekindled my own long estranged interest on commissioning a bespoke tweed jacket myself. I must also say that I found the resources on this website to be invaluably insightful in my quest for both information and inspiration, so thank you!

If I may, could I ask you a personal question in terms of the specific context of commissioning a bespoke tweed jacket? Based on your own experience, if you could only have one, which tailors would you choose for this order? I have my own inclinations as to what your choice may be (or perhaps selfishly what I would like it to be), but it would be tremendously helpful to me if you could advise as such, so that I am able to corroborate it with my own opinion gained thus far. Furthermore, if you so wish, I shall be obliged to share my own thoughts on this after your response.

Best wishes

MCB

Hi Simon,

Thanks for your message and kind offer for advice. In terms of the choice between the two styles, I am inclined to say that I generally gravitate towards the English. I would not go into the various aspects that I feel may not be to my taste with the Neapolitan style, but I do still specifically like their soft shoulder and pronounced lapel roll.

Needless to say, my opinion has undoubtedly been heavily influenced by the grand volume of your prior research and writing into these topics. I can only return to you my gratitude for that. Now in response to my question, I suspect that you may recommend A&S and Steven Hitchcock to me in particular. However if I may, could I also perhaps cheekily propose that you might take the same decision, were you in my position? I know this is a rather hypothetical question and you do not have to answer, but it would be quite reassuring for me to hear your thoughts on this, as I highly admire your style and feel that we may in fact have quite similar tastes and predilections.

Best wishes