I’m going to have my first suit tailored soon. I’ve read a lot about British tailoring versus Italian tailoring. What are the differences and why should I opt for one over the other?
A classic men’s suit is usually said to belong to one of two great tailoring traditions: the British and the Italian, so that’s most probably why you have heard about the two and wonder what exactly are the differences.
At Ascots and Chapels, we are British tailors. Western tailoring as we know it today originated in Great Britain, specifically in 19th-century London; thus, the business suit with the most traditional styling is most frequently said to be the English (or British) suit.
The history of British tailoring goes back many centuries, and the silhouette or shape of a “British” tailored suit has origins from Beau Brummell’s time at the military. This military influence is still prevalent in the way a British suit accentuates the physique and projects authority. This is due to the strong structure present in its construction – padded shoulders, fully canvassed and snugly cut waist all close-fitting and designed to accentuate the body.
Simultaneously with its goal of enhancing the male form, the British suit is always conservative and understated, consistent with being a product of a culture that prizes following the rules. It never looks gaudy or “over the top.” Thus, the British suit is known for its appropriateness in the workplace — though the most strongly structured can project an authority better suited for the boss than for a lower-level staffer (for example, a pinstriped double-breasted suit).
What I love about British tailoring, is the heritage and the rationale for some of its distinct stand out features. A number of features of the British suit are also tied to its equestrian beginnings. These include flap pockets and double rear vents.
The vents kept the suit from bunching while on horseback. Flap pockets were similarly designed to keep dirt out of the pockets while in the country, and placing them at a slant was an innovation to facilitate reaching into them while riding. The presence of a ticket pocket above the main side pockets was originally a related mark of the British country suit, as men traveling from London to rural destinations would use the pocket for their train ticket.
While Italian tailoring is also beautiful, it can be tricky to pull off unless you are very slim. Given the flamboyancy of Italian tailoring, one definitely requires a certain level of panache to wear it.
Due to the more relaxed cut in terms of shoulders and lighter padding, those who wear the style therefore signal that they don’t take tailoring too seriously, but see it as an expression of individual style. For these reasons, the Neapolitan style may not be a safe bet for work.
Gary Sweeney is brand manager of Ascots & Chapels, bespoke tailors with locations across Dubai and Abu Dhabi. got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to email@example.com.