This beautiful jacket above, made by Napoli Su Misura, is another fine example of Neapolitan tailoring. (Click here to read my previous article)
As mentioned previously, the most essential feature of a Neapolitan jacket is its construction; since much of the scholarly discourse on the topic of Neapolitan tailoring focuses the sleevehead of a jacket - commonly referred to as the soft shoulder, I thought it would be nice to expand the scope a little bit. I will refrain from talking about the shoulder in this post.
A Neapolitan jacket is often characterized as being soft and light, this characterization refers to the minimal use of padding and canvas interlining (canvasing) in the construction of the jacket, resulting in a jacket with more mobility, freedom and flow. In some ways, the unstructured nature of Neapolitan jackets runs counter to the American idea of a suit, emphasizing the natural features of the body instead of boxing it away.
One of the biggest differences between traditional Neapolitan style and traditional American style is in the waist suppression. Jesse from Put This On wrote a piece about traditional American style, summarizing that:
The American jacket lacks darts (folds, sewn into the fabric for shape) on the front. Most continental jackets have a dart on each side, running from about nipple level to the waist. This gives the jacket shape over and above the shaping permitted by the side seams. The classic undarted American coat is called a “sack,” because, well, it’s sack-like, rather than following the countour of the front of the body.
This is a sharp contrast to the typical Neapolitan jacket which features waist suppression (the exact amount of suppression varies, depending on the house and the client’s wishes). The differences between the two styles are highlighted below:
On the left, we have a jacket from Isaia Napoli. The two red lines represent the amount of waist suppression. On the right is a sack suit jacket from J. Press, notice how the sides drop straight down - there is no contour where the waist is.
Another signature of Neapolitan tailoring is the Barchetta breast pocket (Italian for ‘little boat’). The barchetta pocket is characterized by a concave up pocket welt shaped like a dory, the shape of the pocket serves to accentuate the wearer’s chest.
Lastly, similar to English jackets, the quarters of Neapolitan jackets are fairly open; but in contrast to an English jacket, the skirt is kept close to the hips, as depicted below in the Savile Row vs NSM comparison:
This result in the impression of a leaner torso without emphasis on the narrowness of the waist.
All these little details are unified by a single theme - showcasing the natural features of the body without overemphasizing it. The construction of a Neapolitan jacket is purposefully soft and unstructured, allowing for mobility and freedom of movement.
Of course, there are other details which have not been covered yet. Things like gorge and collar height, hand sewing etc… I will save that for another day when I don’t have a class to get to.
Jacket photos from Napoli Su Misura
Isaia jacket photo from Amazon
J.Press photo from J.Press
2nd NSM jacket photo from tredici e lupo
Huntsman jacket photo from Micawber