Man Suit

Sunday, May 5, 2013

ITALIAN/FRENCH TAILORING – Expressive and structured shoulders

custom suit
The Cifonelli Shoulder worn by Alexander Kraft
Higher armholes, cut slightly larger than the norm will give the appearance of an improved posture and broader shoulders. Many Italian tailors pride themselves on the fact that they prefer to eschew shoulder padding in favor of working with canvas and fabric to get the shoulder look they want. A wider shoulder cut allows room to move around (except perhaps not to raise your hands above your head because of the high-cut armholes. But not to worry, since Hugo tells me that whoever wears Cifonelli suits never surrenders anyway).

ITALIAN TAILORING – No padding please

Here are two Italian Neapolitan unpadded shoulder constructions: Left: Pagado, or Con Rollino, which means “with roll” (a very narrow and slightly puckered sleevehead, normally unpadded, where excess fabric bulk pushes up the sleevehead, creating an elegant rope effect). RIGHT: spalla / manica camicia (knocked-down shirt-sleeve tailoring, usually with shirring, which follows the shape of the body and falls naturally and is usually prepared by a high-level RTW house, or a Neapolitan Tailor).

The Neapolitan Touch — Shirring

A notable feature on some Italian shoulder constructions is the process of shirring, or pleat-like folds at the seam where the sleeve connects to the shoulder. In this process, the upper sleeve is cut significantly larger than the armscye (arm cut-out on the coat itself), and since there is more cloth on the outer cut than on the inner cut, the fabric puckers and gathers around the shoulder area, when the sleeve is sewn onto the coat.
One of the best commentaries I’ve seen on the perceptions created by shirring the shoulders is taken from the “London Lounge”:
This is not done for aesthetics, although the devotees of the style certainly claim it is beautiful. To the unknowing eye, it looks sloppy, like a sign of inferior tailoring. But it most definitely is not. It is not to everyone’s taste, however, and de gustibus, as the saying goes. Anyway, it is done for comfort and freedom of movement. Classic Neapolitan coats have very small armholes, very close shoulders, and relatively lean bodies—more roomy than a Roman or Continental coat, but less than traditional Savile Row, and much less than what is typically made in America. The large upper sleeve combined with the tight armhole, draped chest, fullness over the blades, and soft front canvas give the arms a most free range of movement. The coat can be worn all day, in almost any circumstance. The heat might get to you, but you will be able to do whatever it is that you need to do without having to take off your coat

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