Dege & Skinner lightweight summer jacket: Review
This brown wool/silk/linen jacket was made in a lightweight model that Savile Row tailor Dege & Skinner introduced last year. It has a thin shoulder pad and no chest canvas, unlike their normal tailoring.
I can directly compare the difference, because the other piece Dege made me was a linen suit using their traditional structure.
Granted that was in an 11oz Irish linen, heavier than this 9oz from Caccioppoli (320156). But still, the difference is much greater than that, and importantly feels similar to any jacket from a Neapolitan tailor.
I wore the jacket last week at Pitti Uomo in Florence, where the temperature was 35 degrees (and felt hotter than that, given the airless valley the city sits in); it performed very well - not as cool as a short-sleeved linen shirt, but as good as any tailoring I’ve worn there.
In fact, there again I could make a direct comparison, because I commissioned the jacket to replace one that Biagio Granata made me three years ago. A lack of communication and some errors had made that jacket unwearable, but I loved the muted brown colour and slightly slubby texture of the cloth.
This Dege jacket felt just as light and breathable, so I can say with confidence that one reason Neapolitan tailoring has been so popular in recent years - its lightness in the heat - is now less exclusive. There is a Savile Row equivalent.
Of course, many will say that the Row should have done this earlier. Neapolitan bespoke tailoring started to become popular in the UK over 10 years ago, and a less structured jacket is not revolutionary. But still, we can be glad it’s here now.
The cut of the jacket remains very English: you don’t have the straight lapels or rounded fronts of a Neapolitan jacket. But I know there will be many readers that prefer this style.
It’s also worth noting that you do lose something of the English style by lessening the internal structure.
The layers of hand-padded canvas in a normal Savile Row suit give the jacket more 3D shape, with a firmer chest and sculpted shoulder. It’s inevitable that you lose that by taking out so many of the ways a coatmaker puts form into a garment.
But I feel Permanent Style readers are educated enough to weigh up these pros and cons. For me, I’d certainly go with this model if I knew a suit or jacket would be worn regularly in hotter European temperatures. If it wouldn’t be, the choice would be more marginal.
Dege’s head cutter Nicholas De’Ath has been talking to me about this lightweight project for a while, and I know it’s been through a few different permutations.
With my jacket, Nick originally put in an extra wedge of shoulder pad at the end of the shoulders, in order to lift the ends and reduce the effects of my sloping stature. But that made them look almost concave, to my eye, so we removed them.
There is still a small echo of that in the point of the right shoulder, and that’s something I’ll have Nick look at when I see him next. This was the jacket’s debut outing, and it was inevitable something would need a tweak.
(Before anyone asks no, I didn’t take straight up-and-down or front-back-and-sides shots of the jacket; the fit was not the point, and was always fundamentally good, given I had that existing pattern.)
The finishing on the jacket is beautiful, and this is something that Row tailors continue to do better than anyone in the south of Italy.
Regular readers will know how much more work it is to have a jacket unlined than lined, as lining can cover all manner of unfinished edges. Having every seam inside so precisely taped, as here, is attractively neat.
The overall outfit is very me, very tonal and unadorned.
At Pitti, it’s nice to wear something like this because you slip into the background. You can spend your time interviewing brands and makers with your clothes merely an elegant backdrop.
The trousers are a cream linen made by Whitcomb & Shaftesbury, in the slightly wider-leg style I wear most of the time at the moment (hem 20.5cm/8 inches).
The linen is 12/13oz from W Bill (60252), which holds a really beautiful, sharp line. The only problem is that it’s a little transparent, to the extent that you can see the pocket bags and inlay down the side seams.
I rather like this on the side seams - it almost makes them look like a dress trouser with grosgrain down the legs - but the linen is probably not the best for something like an office environment.
I also find linen that’s a little creamier is easier to wear, like the Holland & Sherry one I used for my Jean-Manuel Moreau suit. That’s currently not available, but I am working with H&S to try and bring it back.
The polo shirt is a sample for a new charcoal version of the PS Finest Polo. It does just about well enough under the still stiff collar of an English suit, although it will never stay quite as upright as a shirt.
The shoes are Sagan classics from Baudoin & Lange in black suede - my default for tailoring somewhere as hot as Florence.
And the glasses are the Californian model from EB Meyrowitz, in what they call amber mottle colour.
Dege & Skinner bespoke jackets are the same price, whether the lightweight or regular structure, which is £3800. Suits start at £5000.
Nick is in the US next from September 25 to October 12, in no less than 13 different cities. Contact Dege for details.
Photography: Jamie Ferguson