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THE BRIEFING

The history of Neapolitan tailoring and its place in modern men’s fashion

PUBLISHED ON
20th August 2021
WRITER
Tracy Chow

Naples has had a huge cultural impact on the world. Its rich history has found a focus in Renaissance art. But it’s in art of another kind that the Italian city might have made its biggest global impact: the art of tailoring.

Over the years, Neapolitan tailors have become enshrined in legend. They are reputed to be so knowledgeable about body morphology that they can craft a perfectly fitted suit in fewer fittings than is seen as traditional.

These unique skills appear to be as embedded in the Neapolitan culture as food, wine or 18th-century painting.

Neapolitan Tailor

Neapolitan tailoring first took hold in the early 1900s, with the rise of the legendary Angelo Blasi. He took his inspiration from the structured look and narrow shoulders of English tailoring.

Contemporary Neapolitan styles comprise of removing the coat pads and inner linings and the addition of several fine details to craft a superlight item that could be folded eight times.

So what are the characteristics of Neapolitan tailoring?

1 Soft shoulders

There are two Neapolitan shoulder options: the spalla camicia and the con rollino. The first tucks the seam allowance against the shoulder, rather than the sleeve. This allows the jacket to follow the body shape.

Con rollino takes excess fabric from the sleeve head to create a roll that bulks up the area and inches the sleeve head upwards.

Brown Linen Suit Close Detail Jacket Lapel Milanese Boutonniere

Senszio Spalla Camicia Shoulder

2 Minimal lining

Naples is hot, so a Neapolitan jacket is as light and cool as possible, while maintaining a decent structure. The minimal lining helps the jacket fit like a second skin.

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Senszio Unconstructed Jacket

3 Patch pockets

A Neapolitan jacket comes with lower patch pockets modelled in the tasca a pignata style. They have a rounded bottom, while the chest pocket is crafted into a boat shape.

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4 Other details

A Neapolitan jacket has a higher gorge and notch than normally seen.

For a more-streamlined look, the jacket’s front dart extends down to the bottom hem. The back comes with waist suppression, and sleeves are carefully tapered. The Neapolitan jacket is a little shorter than its English counterpart.

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High Gorge Line – the Gorge Line of a jacket is the point where the collar & lapel meet.

Sprezzatura

The overall look of Neapolitan tailoring is an appearance of stylish nonchalance. In fact, an Italian word covers this nicely: sprezzatura. This describes ‘success without the appearance of effort’.

That’s the essence of Neapolitan tailoring: it’s undeniably elegant yet it’s an attitude as much as a specific style. It appears accidental, but centuries of work have gone into it.

Why not book a fitting at a Senszio Trunk Show near you? Let our expert travelling tailors help you achieve the Neapolitan look, or whatever look best suits your style and preferences.