In both bespoke men’s tailoring as well as prêt-à-porter, jacket shoulder and sleeve style have now become details of greater importance thanks to a worldwide increase in both knowledge and interest in menswear. A connoisseur of sartorial matters always focuses the eye (primarily) on the jacket shoulder, and will notice if it “sits” (and takes the right forms) optimally.
These days, there are various models of jacket shoulder and sleeve styles for men’s jackets, and each one of them inhabits a particular niche. When you are shopping for a suit, be sure to note the shoulder and sleeve style, and don’t be shy to ask the tailor or sales associate to describe to you the construction process – as well as why the jacket in questions sports a particular style. This is not a comprehensive review of all styles and the construction methods that create those styles, but it should serve as a quick primer and conversation starter for any man interested in shoulder style and in Neapolitan tailoring
Keep in mind that most tailoring traditions favor a particular jacket shoulder and sleeve construction, which is accompanied by details that further define that stylistic tradition. For example, the below are all Italian, and in particular Neapolitan jackets, regardless of the jacket shoulder style, and are not necessarily representative of geographic tradition. In the future, we’ll cover tailoring traditions in depth, but here are three common Neapolitan shoulder styles to get you started on your journey to Neapolitan style.
Natural shoulder (without padding) & sleeve con rollino:
The sleeve is raised above the jacket shoulder, and possesses a sense of fullness and roundness. The effect is created by pressing the allowances in the sleevehead towards the seam, and there is sometimes wadding placed into the sleevehead to create further fullness. In my opinion, this style is ideal for a wool blazer.
For more information about the tailoring construction, and what exactly “con rollino” means, I will refer you to custom tailor and Styleforum member @Jefferyd’s incredibly informative blog, Tutto Fatto a Mano.
Neapolitan shoulder (without padding) & manica a camicia (tribute to Neapolitan tailoring):
Otherwise known as spalla camicia, or shirt-sleeve construction, in this case the sleeve is gathered in a fashion that generates a harmonious effect, and gives an interesting detail to the jacket. Neapolitan tailoring emphasizes movement and ease, and this construction imitates that of a shirt sleeve head. The result is a jacket shoulder that is comfortable and allows for a good deal of movement. The effect is created by pressing the allowances in the sleevehead towards the body of the jacket and gathering the fabric beneath the shoulder seam.
Padded shoulder & sleeve con rollino:
This is a tribute to English tailoring. You’ll notice that it results in the most built-up shoulders and rigid shape, and is designed to be reminiscent of antique military uniforms. In my opinion it is ideal for the most formal or elegant suits, such as this pinstripe one. In most cases, especially when buying in England, the English style will be accompanied by a built-up chest and nipped waist that creates a sharp V-shaped silhouette on the wearer for a slimming, rigid, and often slightly severe effect.