Building the cut of a custom suit from the shoulders down.
Ah, the shoulders…It’s the cornerstone of the cut of a great suit. It needs to fit perfectly and compliment your body right from the start because it’s one of the few places the, once its cut, I really can’t adjust later. Also it’s the one detail that has the most visible and dramatic effect on the jacket.
Most guys really don’t like a padded shoulder and I don’t blame them. If you see old suits from the 80’s and 90’s the one thing they all have in common are huge padded shoulders that jut out way past the wearers own shoulders. It looks like Frankenstein’s monsters jacket designed for your dad and now you’re wearing it. It sucks. Because of that almost across the board most clients request a lightly padded “natural” shoulder.
Here’s the thing, great tailoring when it comes to suit shoulders has nothing to do with padding and everything to do with structure. Natural aka Neapolitan, Roped aka English, Squared aka Milanese and so on all pretty much make use of the same amount of stacked cotton and canvas but what makes the different is the structure they give the wearer. I prefer to use different shoulder construction based on how my client will wear the suit and match it on his body type.
· Neapolitan shirt shoulders-
It’s the least constructed shoulder I make. The jacket shoulder line falls right on the edge of the wearers shoulder creating a drape very similar to a dress shirt. It works really well for a more casual suit, sport coat or blazer. Its soft construction pairs well with ultra light or heavy fabrics
· English Roped Shoulders-
It’s the shoulder that gives a jacket the most presence. Every one thinks this is done with padding, When really its done with canvas. It’s the shoulder of choice for brands like Tom Ford because of the dramatic look the strong shoulders give. I tend to use this shoulder for tuxedos, power suit and clients that have sloped, muscular yet rounded shoulder.
· Milanese Shoulder-
This is probably the most common shoulder in off the rack suits, because of that its also the one that is most basterdized. When clients say I don’t want padded shoulders they really mean they want to avoid having a suit with a poor version of this shoulder. A well made Milanese shoulder is actually the most flattering shoulder for most body types. It creates clean lines and a tailored look while following the wearers own silhouette.