BRITISH TAILORING

TYPES OF SUIT SHOULDER STYLES

WHEN MEN REALLY LOVE SOMETHING, THEY GET ALL CLOSE AND PERSONAL

They absorb all the information they can about it until they can basically recite you facts in their sleep. Whether it’s about cars, watches, or sneakers, they spend time investing in their area of interest and add to their wealth of knowledge.

 One of the fascinations that an increasing number of men are being intrigued by is tailoring. When men fall in love with tailored garments, they learn about the fabrics, the stitches, and what makes a bespoke suit so special. In time, they can take a single glance at a suit and tell you anything about it, even if they aren’t a tailor. This is because they can appreciate the beauty of the art.

 The shoulders of a suit jacket are often the most distinctive feature. There are so many ways to form jacket shoulders. Some men like a structured look, some like a softer look. Some like full pads, some prefer full pads. The width of the shoulders dictate the drape of the jacket, and only a skilled tailor can make the whole jacket fit together flawlessly. Different jackets give off different impressions, so if you’re going for a sporty look, you wouldn’t be wearing the same jacket as you would for a professional business meeting. Every man who knows the fundamentals of good dressing should know the shoulder style to which he is partial.

 Shoulder styles have to work well with the wearer’s look. If you’ve got narrow shoulders, you may want padding for a more defined look. If you’ve got a belly, you may want wider pads to conceal the area slightly. It all depends on your body. Ultimately, however, you want a shoulder that helps to balance out your body and contributes to the overall look you are going for.

 In the past, shoulder styles were identified by the country in which they were made. However, that method is no longer all that effective, seeing as there has been a globalization of sorts with regard to tailoring and tailors. You can now find tailors who specialize in all sorts of different styles in countries all over the world. For the sake of education however, let’s take a look at a few of the common country “shoulder styles.”

My tailoring is about style and craftsmanship, at Park Lane tailors every garment is well made with a perfect fit and finish.

– Roger Davies

British Tailor at work

TYPES OF SUIT SHOULDER STYLES

  1. American

The American shoulder goes for more of a relaxed look. It isn’t all that padded, and follows the wearer’s natural shape. It gives off more of a “preppy” vibe.

  1. British

The British shoulder is more structured compared to the American. There is more padding, contributing to a more tapered jacket look.

  1. Italian

Italian shoulders can get pretty varied, but for the most part, they are either wide and structured or narrow and slimming. It’s easy to get Italian-style shoulders confused with American or British - it varies so much.

CURRENT SHOULDER STYLES

Now that you know some shoulder style basics, let’s kick things up a notch. We will be going into detail about three different shoulder styles that can completely change the look of an otherwise similar jacket. First, the Concave Shoulder style, often used by Italian and French tailors. Second, the Straight Shoulder style, commonly used by the British. Finally, the Sloping Shoulder, observed to be used by American and Neapolitan tailors.

The main components making these shoulder styles different are the crown and the shoulder ridge. Some shoulder styles have a crown more lifted than others, and some shoulder ridges are deeper than others. Let’s take a close look at the first style.

CONCAVE SHOULDER

Italian and French tailors prefer the look of a pagoda shoulder, manipulating fabric to create a strong look. Some go for a narrower sleeve head that uses excess fabric to create a rolled shoulder shape. Shirring is often seen in such shoulders, which is excess fabric puckered in the area where the sleeve meets the jacket body.

Although shirring can seem messy, to the well-trained eye, it is a cut that allows more mobility compared to other shoulder styles. It is often seen with a draped chest, a good coverage of shoulder blades, and a comfortable front canvas. This makes it possible for the wearer to move around easily. The only reason you’d have to take off your suit jacket is if it got too hot!

STRAIGHT SHOULDER

British suit shoulders are quite balanced. They aren’t too structured nor too relaxed. Rather, then work with the shape of your body, folding to your figure. There is some padding for structure, but not too much, as the point isn’t to add mass. The straight shoulder comes with a straight right angle between the shoulder and a sleeve - no pagoda, no deep ridge. It’s a precise, comfortable fit.

SLOPING SHOULDER

American and Neapolitan tailors try to create a much more relaxed look with little to no padding. There are always those people who will try to exaggerate the look until they are wearing a suit jacket borrowed from someone with a much larger frame. Only in the recent years have American men began to realize how much more flattering suits that are properly fitted look.

Some people do remain partial to the relaxed suit shoulder, however. The fact of it is that not all of us are built the same. Those with broad shoulders may prefer a relaxed look so their upper bodies don’t look too blown out of proportion. Soft shoulder styles definitely continue to hold an important position the tailoring world today.

There are so many things to learn about the shoulders of a great suit. This is only a beginning. But if you have really fallen in love with the suit, we trust that you will be seeking out other information on your own. By learning more about suits, you’ll be able to choose ones that fit you, your figure, and your personal style. It’s an important investment, after all!

'A man should look as if he had bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care, and then forgotten all about them.'

– Hardy Amies

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