Friday - - Beauty -

Q I have al­ways worn Ital­ian suits. How is the Bri­tish cut dif­fer­ent from the Ital­ian – and which is bet­ter? A Be­spoke tai­lor­ing is a craft that orig­i­nated in Eng­land some 400 years ago when suits were es­sen­tially a bat­tle­dress or a military uni­form. Back then suits were very struc­tured and form-fit­ting. Their pur­pose was to hold the shape of the body in a man­ner that made men look and feel sub­lime. Suits later evolved into the lounge suit that we wear to­day, which was founded by An­der­son and Shep­pard of Sav­ile Row.

It was when a client asked An­der­son & Shep­pard for a suit that was slim fit­ting yet com­fort­able that the leg­endary drape cut was born. It had a re­laxed form that had a fuller chest and draped over the midriff in a man­ner that gave gen­tle­men a more smart and re­laxed look. The next ma­jor shift in the be­spoke craft came when Ital­ians from Naples learnt the be­spoke craft from Sav­ile Row and took it to Italy in the early 1900s. They changed the con­struc­tion of suits to make it more suit­able for the weather in Naples, which is mostly warm.

This gave birth to the Neapoli­tan tai­lor­ing method we know to­day. A Neapoli­tan jacket is de­con­structed, made with­out lin­ing, giv­ing a more ca­sual shirt-like ap­pear­ance and re­main­ing more cool and com­fort­able. They were of­ten made with bright and vi­brant colours and paired with cot­ton trousers or chi­nos, which are an­kle length, cuffed and worn with slip-ons. A Neapoli­tan jacket will also have its sig­na­ture cam­i­cia rollo shoul­ders. ‘Cam­i­cia’ means shirt-like and ‘rollo’ means roped. It was usu­ally paired with a barchetta (boat-shaped) breast pocket.

An English suit jacket will have a clean and clas­sic slightly an­gled breast pocket and soft yet struc­tured shoul­ders form­ing a nat­u­ral slope. The trousers will be com­fort­able around the thighs ta­per­ing slightly to­wards the bot­tom, which is cut at an an­gle with the back just kiss­ing the heel of your shoes – ei­ther Ox­fords or brogues.

To­day, a Neapoli­tan jacket speaks of Ital­ian non­cha­lance, with straight lines and sharp edges, while English be­spoke tai­lor­ing is slightly struc­tured, more fluid, yet for­mal with a light drape that ac­cen­tu­ates your nat­u­ral physique.

While they both have their own place in the school of tra­di­tional be­spoke tai­lor­ing, it is the pur­pose of the suit that should de­ter­mine whether you wish to go with the ca­sual ef­fort­less el­e­gance of Neapoli­tan tai­lor­ing or the for­mal struc­tured and sub­lime el­e­gance of English tai­lor­ing. How­ever, a gen­tle­man’s wardrobe is only con­sid­ered com­plete if it is care­fully bal­anced with both English and Ital­ian be­spoke suits.

PAWAN AND ASHISH ISH­WAR are tai­lors at Knights & Lords, a be­spoke tai­lor­ing house in Dubai

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