The home of British tailoring is very well known as being Savile row. There are currently 41 tailoring houses on the row, each providing their own unique cut and style. This being said, they are all British tailors. So, what does tailoring look like in other countries?
The shoulder – British suits are cut with a firm shoulder and a well-tapered waist. A firm shoulder means quite simply that the shoulder line will be padded to keep a solid line with no breaks or creases in the shoulders silhouette and the measurement used for the jacket will reflect the wearers true shoulder.
The waist – The waist is tapered close to the wearer’s waist, enough that the jacket can close comfortably without pulling around the button. The back of the jacket is most likely to have a double vent, which allows the jacket to move comfortably as the wearer moves.
The trousers – The trousers that match this style of jacket is most often flat fronted (no pleats) which helps keep them narrower. This narrowness is reflected through the entire trouser, finishing at the hem, which is normally cut about 2” wider than the wearer’s ankle. The trouser should be completely strait along the crease at the back, finishing either exactly on or ½ an inch shorter than the heel of the wearer’s shoe. The front of the trousers should have either a full or half break (where the fabric begins to fold over onto itself) on the front crease. Turned up hems are not uncommon, though they are seen more often on double-breasted suits, or single-breasted suits that are slightly less formal.
The shoulder – American suits are cut much wider than British or Italian suits are. The shoulders are often heavily padded, and are cut to extend a little beyond the wearers true shoulder.
The Waist – To match this larger shoulder, the jackets waist will have very little tapering on the waist, which gives the garment a squarer shape. The jacket will most likely have no vents, meaning the jacket has little ability to move which will again hold the suits square frame.
The trousers – The trousers will likely be pleated on the front, which will create excess fabric in the trouser. The hem of the trouser will also be much wider than a British or Italian trouser would be, often being 3” wider than the wearer’s ankle. The trouser often has at least one break on the front crease, though more isn’t un-common. On trousers that are cut slightly shorter, they may have turned up hems add extra bulk to the hem, serving as a neater alternative to several breaks.
The shoulder – Italian suits have two shoulder styles that they tend to use, the roped shoulder and the Neapolitan shoulder. The roped shoulder is similar to the padded English shoulder, but on the seam where the shoulder meets the sleeve it appears as though a rope has been sewn in under the cloth. A Neapolitan shoulder is quite the opposite. Instead of being structured, the shoulder is left with almost no padding, which creates a very soft shoulder line. The sleeve is cut slightly wider than necessary so that when it is tucked into the armhole and sewn, the cloth puckers to create a style feature.
The waist – Similar to British suits, the waist on Italian suits is tapered, though the taper is much more aggressive on an Italian suit. The whole fit of the jacket is very slim and stylish. The back of the jacket will likely only have one single vent, allowing for some movement but not as much as the two side vents.
The trouser – Like the jacket, the trouser is cut very close to the body to give a slim stylish fit. They are normally flat front – though a pleat will sometimes be used for detail. The trousers are often cut shorten than a British trouser, sometimes being as much as 2” off the back of the wearer’s shoe. This style works well with a slightly more casual shoe, such as a loafer. Both plain and turn-up hems are used; turn-ups provide an added style detail to the otherwise plain and simple trousers.
The word “often” is used in this blog frequently because although these characteristics of the suits are a great summary of the styles, people do experiment with different looks. Although there are rules and guidelines in tailoring all over the world, they are bent on occasion to create a more unique look.