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What do you think of Emily Post?

emily post iconicallyrare

Back in the 80s (1880s), Emily apparently was tall, pretty and spoiled. I’m not sure how she became an authority on the delicate path of  becoming a lady or gentleman.

Just how did Post come by her words? Maybe we aren’t privy to some of the suffering and stripes she earned…or maybe she was just a brilliant writer with perspective.

Let’s take a look at a few of her revelations to see if her magic has aged well:

From Emily Post (1873–1960).  Etiquette.  1922 [see more at bartleby. com]

FAR more important than any mere dictum of etiquette is the fundamental code of honor, without strict observance of which no man, no matter how “polished,” can be considered a gentleman.

The honor of a gentleman demands the inviolability of his word, and the incorruptibility of his principles; he is the descendant of the knight, the crusader; he is the defender of the defenseless, and the champion of justice—or he is not a gentleman.

I admit I’m suspicious to know if Emily copied this stuff from someone else or if she pulled it out of her own head. Well, if the words are hers, hats off to Ms. Post.

Integrity is a a rare organism in this world and a quality which I stand in awe of when I’m graced with the presence of a person who makes a decision for integrity.

OK. I just took a five minute break to scan part of Post’s bio, and it’s safe to say she did indeed face a few tumultuous challenges.

Suddenly, I’m a fan of Ms. Post and feel a little twitch to read more. So I end with some advice for the ladies. If you find yourself bitten by her candor, do continue to investigate:



The instincts of a lady are much the same as those of a gentleman. She is equally punctilious about her debts, equally averse to pressing her advantage; especially if her adversary is helpless or poor.


Nothing so blatantly proclaims a woman climber as the repetition of prominent names, the owners of which she must have struggled to know. Otherwise, why so eagerly boast of the achievement? Nobody cares whom she knows—nobody that is, but a climber like herself. To those who were born and who live, no matter how quietly, in the security of a perfectly good ledge above and away from the social ladder’s rungs, the evidence of one frantically climbing and trying to vaunt her exalted position is merely ludicrous.


  All thoroughbred women, and men, are considerate of others less fortunately placed, especially of those in their employ. One of the tests by which to distinguish between the woman of breeding and the woman merely of wealth, is to notice the way she speaks to dependents. Queen Victoria’s duchesses, those great ladies of grand manner, were the very ones who, on entering the house of a close friend, said “How do you do, Hawkins?” to a butler; and to a sister duchess’s maid, “Good morning, Jenkins.” A Maryland lady, still living on the estate granted to her family three generations before the Revolution, is quite as polite to her friends’ servants as to her friends themselves. When you see a woman in silks and sables and diamonds speak to a little errand girl or a footman or a scullery maid as though they were the dirt under her feet, you may be sure of one thing; she hasn’t come a very long way from the ground herself.

4 Things to Look for in a Good Pair of Men’s Shoes

4 Things to Look for in a Good Pair of Men’s Shoes.

My most recent article published on Parisian Gentleman UK, for all lovers of men’s shoes.


Jean Shrimpton — What is it That Makes a Woman Elegant?

After publishing dozens of articles on male elegance here and on Parisian Gentleman, Iconicallyrare is opening a new chapter, exploring the mode of women’s elegance.

Kept in a simple format, we focus on one elegant woman at a time, trying to understand the concrete elements that makes us perceive her to possess that elusive concept called ‘true elegance’, all the while remembering that it’s never really about the clothes…


In her article “The Man in the Bill Blass Suit”, Nora Ephron tells of the time when Jean Shrimpton posed for a Revlon advertisement in an antique white Chantilly lace dress by Blass. Minutes after the lipstick placard was displayed at the drugstores, the Revlon switchboard received many calls from women demanding to know where they could buy the dress.

As one of the first true supermodels of our time, Jean Shrimpton graced the covers of numerous high-fashion magazines and appeared in a few good films. Raised as a Buckinghamshire farm girl, she later became dubbed as the “it girl” and as “the symbol of swinging London’.

What sets Jean Shrimpton apart from the others, other than her obvious beauty? Take a look at her style preferences to get a few clues:

1. Fabric Colors and Patterns – One base color

Colors are mainly one strong base color (usually black or white). Patterns favored include a simple floral, or a basic geometric design.


2. Fabric Cut / Fit – Fabric is cut close to Body with a Flat Front around the waistline.

Fabric is generally cut close to the body, with a fit that is snug, but not tight.

A round or V-neckline is standard.

The front of the blouse or dress is typically flat, with little or no pleats at the waist area.

The fabric on the underside of the shoulder (the armpit area) is cut high and adequately covers the skin, with few exceptions.

3. Daywear – Very few accessories, a simple ensemble, and pumps.

Accessories are kept to a minimum, ranging from no accessories to two accessories, maximum, with a definitive pair of earrings often being the accessory of choice.

Pumps are the standard for shoe wear, in a variety of solid colors.

A soft print blouse with a solid skirt is the go-to ensemble.

4. Unique Expression – The headscarf and long gloves

The headscarf serves as a staple style-element that sets her style apart from others.

Gloves that extend up past the wrist are worn liberally.

5. Business Wear – Conservative suits and dresses, avoiding excessive accessories that age the look.

To avoid looking “Grandmotherly”, conservative suits and dresses fit closely and are kept fresh by foregoing excessive jewelry, pins and scarves that add age to the overall look. No more than two accessories are worn at a time.

A simple black-banded watch gives a vibe of permanent elegance.

Bags are medium in size with little ornamentation and of a solid color.

A more daring hat with a clean circular line tops off the look.

The suit cut has soft shoulders, a generous lapel, a defined silhouette, and the suit coat has slightly short sleeves.

5. Evening Wear – Keep it simple. Keep it black.

Black is the go-to color.

With evening wear, accessories can be quite strong, but the number of accessories is limited no more than two with evening wear.

The neckline is horizontal, running from shoulder to shoulder.

A plunging backline amps up the formal factor.

Sequins and shiny material is kept to a bare minimum.

6. Make-up – It’s all about the eyes.

Eyebrows are darkened with a defined shape with highlighter likely applied below the brow.

Eyeliner is bottom-heavy with a light wing drawn with eyeliner slightly above the natural line of the eyelid.

A patch of lashes are applied directly to the middle of the eyelid.

Other than the eyes, the rest of the face is natural with no evidence of makeup being applied.



We all have them, those moments when we wear something that goes against the grain of our defined personal style. Whether you like or not…body assets here are shown freely with a dress made of netting and a high fashion fabric.


This is a first attempt to answer some requests from my readers for a source on female elegance. Any advice on how to improve along the way will be fully read and honored, if you find yourself motivated to comment.

~Sonya Glyn Nicholson






For the Love of Proportions! Ties, Lapels, and Shirt Collars

It’s a simple formula worth knowing:

The widest part of the lapel and the widest part of the tie should be similar in width.

We especially like this illustration by :

The next time you wonder why someone looks so good in a suit, note the lapel/tie width ratio and see if it is influencing your positive perception.

HOWEVER, one caveat exists for the man who craves ‘ more lapel ‘ (reminiscent of SNL’s pop culture ‘ more cowbell ‘ catchphrase):

It can be ridiculous to try to match the width of a tie to that of a super-wide lapel, and so the law of diminishing returns applies to just how wide the tie should be. In this case, match tie-width to shirt collar width (being careful to choose a more substantial shirt collar and tie when working with large lapels).


Eyeing the shirt collar before putting on a suit, and choosing a shirt collar width similar to tie width, can be a real help in balancing proportions.

Case in point — media mogul Keith Olbermann is referred to as a master of proportions. Unbeknownst to many, Olbermann is quite a large man…but, his attention to proportions has kept this point fairly mute among the public.

In this GQ photo, we notice Olberman’s consistency in keeping his tie width somewhat similar to his shirt collar width (as his lapels are so expressive that matching tie and shirt collar width with the size of the lapel would be absurd). We also witness on the left, what happens when overall proportion details go wrong. The good news is that with a little education and some attention to what he is wearing, the man on the left can transform his entire appearance.

Olbermann’s shirt collar and tie (widest part of each) measurements are similar. Also note the finer point of how the shirt collar edge is slightly covered by the waistcoat, compared to the free-floating shirt collar on the left.


Knit ties can be quite dapper, but it can be confounding to know how to use them in a suit ensemble. But, when factoring in the proportion formula on matching tie width with the lapel and/or the shirt collar width, suddenly knit ties begin to work better with suits. The problem with knit ties is that most of them are just too skinny, and this fact alone throws off the overall proportions of the suit.

But, once we purge these skinny knit ties, and opt for fuller, wider and more cleverly designed ones, then the proportion problem vanishes, and knit ties become a real viable option to add texture to a suit.


Spread Your Wingtips? Selecting the Right Wingtip Design for Your Foot

Gaziano & Girling

Brogue and spectators shoes alike peacock their wingtip designs, begging to be noticed for their clever perforations of twists and turns that channel thoughts of a certain fountain in Paris, or a delicate flower extracted from a crest displayed on a castle wall. While the people who hold their noses a bit high may say that wingtips originate from the countryside, and are too banal for their taste, the esoterics and the bohemians in spirit find this fact to be part of the charm of the semi-formal wingtip shoe.

And, for the those who haven’t noticed…all wingtips do not look alike. To look close, it’s easy to see that the designs on wingtip shoes vary wildly.  But even with their differences, all wingtips have two consistent similarities :

* All wingtip shoes have a W shape on the top of the shoe, and

* All wingtip shoes have decorative perforations.


We have been binge-viewing countless websites and magazines lately, featuring brogue and spectator shoes. A couple of hours into our binge-viewing session, we begin to notice something that we haven’t noticed before…

Changing the type of W on the Wingtip changes the perceived proportions of the foot.

It was kind of an aha moment… and it seemed to deserve a closer look to see if it is possible that the design pattern on top of the shoe could cause the foot to look bigger, smaller, more narrow or wider. There were photos to share, but it felt rude to show photography of men with big trouser legs with tiny feet underneath, or men with skinny legs and feet so huge that their feet looked more like flippers, not to mention the wide-footed man whose feet looked almost square instead of oblong…you get the picture.

In putting together a few theories about how wingtip design relates to body proportion, we wondered if perhaps we were going a bit too far with it all (i.e., focusing so much on the feet in regard to overall body proportion). After all, we are just talking about…feet. But then, we remembered the possible universal truth that the first thing someone looks at when he or she meets you is your face and your shoes. We remembered the countless photos on Style Forum of men photographing their socks. And, we remembered how a certain group of men fondly refer to looking at shoes as…porn. And then, we decided to investigate.

In the initial findings, we stayed with two key points to analyze wingtip shoe design and its affect on perceived foot proportions:

1. Where is the W positioned on the wingtip? … high, medium, or low ?

2. Is the center of the W pointed or more flat?

BIG W OR SMALL W ? (affects how LONG the foot looks)

The positioning of the W on a wingtip shoe can range from high to medium to low W positioning. Here are examples of each of the three positions:

1. HIGH – W : the W covers more than the half of the front of the shoe (vamp + cap, starting from the throat line).  See also above opening photo by Gaziano & Girling.

Scarpe di Bianco

2. MID – W : The W covers slightly less than the half of the front of the shoe.

Ivan Crivellaro with a mid-position W. source: The Shoe Snob

3. LOW – W : The W covers only around 1/3 of the front.

One of the Corthay signature designs, The Vendome with a low-position W



* Select a low-W positioning with bold perforations on the toes.

As seen in the Corthay wingtip shoes just above, the low-W lengthens the appearance of the foot and the bold perforations draw the eye all the way to the tips of the toes, lengthening not only the overall appearance of the shoe, but also lengthening the appearance of the legs.

side note: With small feet, keep trouser legs more narrow and perhaps fractionally shorter than usual so that trousers don’t hide the length of the foot.

AVERAGE FEET (anything goes) :

* Since there are no disproportions with average feet, anything goes when selecting a wingtip design (unless the design itself creates a disproportional look).

Any shoe size between 8 – 10 (British) and 9 – 11 (American), is considered average. Here, Hugo (average foot size) is wearing a Corthay Low-W wingtip brogue. The design adds a nice lengthening affect to both the feet and the legs.

Photographed by Justin Fitzpatrick : The Shoe Snob


* Select a mid or high W position, without a lot of “attention-grabbing” perforations

For those born with disproportionately large feet, a mid or high-positioned W with minimal perforations softens the appearance of oversized feet. The Gaziano & Girling brogues below are a nice example…and although it can be delicate to craft shoes for extra large feet, the design elements of the G & G brogues feel simple and elegant.

Gaziano & Girling … keeping it elegantly simple.


Affects how WIDE the foot looks.

Some men have extremely wide feet, which can make the foot look more square than oblong, Other men have super narrow feet, which may look disproportionate with wide trouser legs.  The wingtip design can make a shoe appear more narrow or wider than it really is.


When the design of the W is more flat, this makes the foot appear wider than it actually is. In this photo, the W is completely flattened to form a U-Cap, which widens the look of the foot.

Roberto Ugolini Bespoke U-Caps


Select a pointed W, which makes the foot look more narrow, as shown in this pair of shoes (that you probably won’t forget):

New kid on the block, Clarence Clifford

Thanks to Justin Fitzpatrick and his incredible blog “The Shoe Snob” for vast visual inspiration in writing about wingtip design.

Sonya Glyn Nicholson, Senior Editor.

Links :

The shoe snob

Gaziano & Girling


Ivan Crivellaro (facebook page)

Roberto Ugolini

Scarpe Di Bianco

Clarence Clifford

How to Choose the Right Shirt Collar for Your Face

shirt tracy wattsThe collar of a shirt may seem like it is a small part of  the overall look of an ensemble, and choosing a shirt collar may feel like a simple choice based on personal taste.

Still, it is hard to ignore, once aware of how the wrong choice of a shirt collar can distract from an otherwise good appearance, how choosing the correct shirt collar in proportion with the head shape and size can polish and enhance overall appearance.

The method of choosing the right shirt collar is fairly simple and involves knowing head shape and size, followed by choosing the right shirt collar to harmonize with these proportions.

The formula is simple:

* with a large head and wider head shape, choose long and narrow collars to offset the wider head shape and size.

* with a narrow head and slimmer head shape, choose wider collars and cut-aways to balance the thinness of the face.

* with a balanced head size and shape, anything goes.

To assist in choosing the correct shirt collar, here are two diagrams—one of head shapes and sizes, and the other of collar choices:



By mentally extracting the heads from the above chart and placing them on the shirt collar chart below, you can instantly know which combinations work, and which do not.

To follow with an example, notice how Leonardo DiCaprio’s head is large and squarish, and how selecting a long and narrow shirt collar balances his wider proportions and results in a completely correct overall look:

In contrast, notice how Tobey McGuire’s head is slender and more triangular. Also fitted with a long and narrow shirt collar, we quickly see the fault of how this shirt collar dominates an otherwise fairly nice ensemble, as the head is much too small for such a long and vast collar mass.

Once this formula is understood, choosing the correct shirt collar that compliments the proportions of the head/face can be a great piece of arsenal in fine-tuning the overall look and feel of an ensemble.
Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” ~ Albert Einstein

The Class Above the Upper Class : The TOP Class

It is a mad world when the rich and famous are checking into rehab centers and the people of the working class feel anxious about whether they will be able to hold on to the very jobs that they dislike doing. Sometimes the world feels a little upside-down and the unimportant gets confused with the important.  And sometimes we even ask ourselves exactly how the art of dressing-well and finding one’s personal style fits into the grand scheme of things?

We know for sure that it isn’t necessary to find a study or statistics to tell us that it feels good to look good. And it is a bit of a revelation to realize that looking good does not mean being a ‘ natural-born-beauty ‘ as much as it means defining and refining a personal style. And regardless of how rich, handsome, tall or fit a person may be, style does not play favorites, but waits to be embraced by anyone who has the knowledge and will to express him or herself well through behavior, grooming, and clothing.

Some of the most stylish men in history have not been beauties (Winston Churchill, Oscar Wilde, Peter O’Toole or the elegance naturelle de Francois Truffaut). Incredibly, even after some of these men are no longer alive, still their strong sense of personal style emanates  and is remembered and referred to, even to this day.

Many believe that it is the upper class that dresses the best and has the strongest sense of personal style. Notice that this perception can once again, work to everyone’s advantage since even the man from the most humble beginnings can pull himself far above the masses simply through the way he behaves, dresses and grooms himself. And, while a man of royal decent can look and behave as a buffoon, at the same time, a man of meager means can exemplify the meaning of elegance through his actions and through attention to his wardrobe.

Even though the ability for most every person to dress well does ‘ level ‘ the playing field between the wealthy and the working class, strangely, most people do not take advantage of investing in fully developing his or her personal style. Perhaps the goal seems beyond the reach of many, or laziness sets in, or more likely, there is an ignorance of the power that dressing well can bring to our lives. And, the goal to express personal style is typically not to look as if a person is from a certain class, as much as it is to show that a person has class.

Edmond Rostand, who wrote about aristocracy and beauty (or the lack thereof) in the iconic play “Cyrano de Bergerac”,  says this about elegance:

“I have a different idea of elegance. I don’t dress like a fop, it’s true, but my moral grooming is impeccable. I never appear in public with a soiled conscience, a tarnished honor, threadbare scruples, or an insult that I haven’t washed away. I’m always immaculately clean, adorned with independence and frankness. I may not cut a stylish figure, but I hold my soul erect. I wear my deeds as ribbons, my wit is sharper then the finest mustache, and when I walk among men I make truths ring like spurs.” — Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac

And so we agree, that elegance first begins with the character of a person, and only then, is rounded out with grooming and dressing well.


An important distinction can be made between the Upper Class and what author Paul Fussell terms the TOP Class, in his 1983 book entitled “A Guide Through the American Status Systems”.

Those from the upper class often draw attention to themselves through the cars and homes they purchase, the jewelry and clothing that they wear, and the events they attend. In a general sense, members of upper class care very much about the messages they are sending through the possessions that they choose. And although the Upper Class may fail to be discreet at times, still, they seem to exercise discretion in one specific area: they generally prefer older items and antiques over things that are newly produced. They have an appreciation for heritage and tradition in regard to dressing well, and this preference shows up in the things that they own, ranging from vintage cars and watches, to wearing  accessories like antique cuff links, and tie bars and pins, and even tattered clothes (more on that later).

A different group altogether, ranking even higher than the Upper Class is the TOP Class. Members of the TOP class are the uber elite and prefer to remain anonymous while attempting to blend with, instead of stand apart from society. Having a  massive estate with 42 rooms and a butler is an anathema to the TOP elite, since guarding the secret of his or her wealth and retaining privacy are key motives. In short, a life unhampered by the public eye is a constant focus and discretion is of paramount importance. In a strange way, a TOP elite seeks to be emancipated from the chains that his or her wealth has created, and paradoxically begins to identify with the things that really matter in life. Being discreet is preferred to showiness, and there is overall, less of an attachment to things, with the exception of family heirlooms and rare items that generally hold some type of meaning or purpose.

My own experience with a TOP class person has been enlightening. When I knew her, as a fourth generation member of a wealthy family and coming from what we consider ‘old-money’, Margaret lived in a nice but relatively modest home in a very good, but not extraordinary neighborhood. She drove a car that I barely remember and her jewelry consisted of a wedding ring (of what appeared to be just under one carat), a clean, black-banded Timex watch to be worn for everyday, in place of her Cartier, and a strand of her Grandmother’s pearls. She had custom clothes, but also clothes from Land’s End and Ralph Lauren. She was straight forward in her speech, and I found her to be a basically good and genuine person with naturally correct posture and an easy elegance. I also had a glimpse into her character…when she was going through a bad divorce, she was gentle and discussed her feelings honestly, but at the same time, her resolve was impressively strong to work through the difficulty.

And so, it is intriguing to take note of what some may consider TOP class gestures. Here are some nice, specific practices of the elegant, that is usually not written or spoken about explicitly:

1. Frayed Edges on Clothing

To be embraced, is signs of wear on clothing. The upper echelon detests shopping and readily accepts, even prefers, signs of wear on their clothes, including moth holes, small tears, piling and fraying, as this practice of accepting minor defects not only defines the behavior of the class, but also, wearing items that have been “broken in” can feel more natural and comfortable. It is considered a good thing to eschew the image of the parvenue in favor of patching, mending, and sewing worn spots on timeless pieces. One practice that has been relayed to us is the practice of estate owners instructing their valets to wear the owner’s shirt for a while in order to “break in the shirt” so it is more comfortable and in order for the shirt to appear less “new”.

2. Old Things Trump New Things

An antique or family heirloom, or anything with a history or a story, surpasses a newly produced item.

3. The Color of the Carnation

A red flower symbolizes that your mother is still living, while a white flower means your mother is no longer living.

4. Equal amounts of Shirt Collar and Shirt Cuff Showing Beneath a Jacket (with no Proletarian “Prole” Gap).

The amount of shirt collar and shirt sleeve that is shown beneath the jacket (typically around 1/2 inch) should match in area  (e.g., 1/2 inch shirt extending out from beneath the coat collar and 1/2 inch shirt sleeve extending out beneath the coat sleeve). No “prole gap” (collar gap) is imperative, as a gaping area between the coat collar and the shirt is considered a characteristic of the lower class proletarians, who are perceived to have little knowledge about good tailoring.

5. The Tailor’s Label — Hidden inside the Coat Pocket

There was a time when the name of one’s tailor was kept confidential, perhaps to protect a person’s privacy or even to prevent others from copying a look, or more likely to demonstrate discretion. Placing the name of the tailor inside the coat pocket so that the only way to read the tailor’s name is to peek inside the suit jacket pocket is an ultimate gesture, in terms of being discreet.

6. A Handkerchief Inside the Jacket Pocket.

Gentlemen at one time made it a point to carry a handkerchief in the suit coat pocket to handle things on the spot, like cold symptoms, spills, and teardrops.  And, a prepared gentleman equipped with gestures such as this, almost always left a lasting impression.

7. The final shirt buttonhole on a tailored shirt is sewn horizontally

Some swear by the practice of instructing a shirtmaker to sew the final buttonhole of a shirt horizontally instead of vertically in order to help secure the last button in place and as a discreet signal that the shirt is handmade (since no one sees the horizontal buttonhole except the wearer of the shirt and those closest to him).

8. Regimental Ties — Worn with Caution

Regimental ties, whose stripes represent a certain regiment, club, or private school, are only worn to functions associated with the entity that the tie represents. To wear one’s regimental tie to any other venue other than those events associated with what the regimental tie represents, is seen as a need to show off or broadcast a person’s membership. When wearing a striped tie with a suit, stripes should point up towards the right shoulder to avoid indicating that a person belongs to a club of which he has no affiliation (since true regimental ties generally point upwards towards the left shoulder).

9. All Sleeve Cuff Buttons are…Buttoned

To leave a button open on the coat sleeve cuff is not even considered, since quality is assumed with this class, and there would be no reason to announce that your buttons actually work on your coat sleeve.

10. A good watch ‘ peeks out ‘ beneath the shirt sleeve, but is not fully shown

Fully exposing a nice watch underneath a shirt sleeve would be seen as peacocking and as a way to get your watch stolen. Also, thrusting a watch forward  for display when posing for a photograph  is not an option.

11. An aversion to high fashion labels (with the exception of a few favorites specific to the individual)

Old money families steer clear of high fashion flashy labels (associated with “new money”)  but welcome a few personal labels into their wardrobe, some of which can be surprising to others, for example, choosing a black-banded Timex watch to be worn on certain days, in place of a finer watch.


How to participate in a «Toast»

Raise your glass with everyone else, when clinking glasses with an individual, always make quick eye contact with the individual, and…never cross wine or champagne glasses with anyone at the table.

Restrict Compliments since Quality is Assumed

Reserve the amount of compliments given to the elite…quality is assumed and mindless compliments are usually seen as unnecessary flattery that holds little meaning.

While these observations may only skim the surface of some elegant practices generally known within an exclusive subset of the population, the spirit of these subtle gestures come through– and brings some nice insight about being discreet and the some of the intentions behind why we dress the way we do.

The Suit Silhouette and The Cutter — What Every Man Should Know

When first hearing the phrase suit silhouette, it sounds a bit odd. By itself, the word silhouette brings to mind blackened outlines of corset-clad ladies from the Victorian era blotched onto starchy white paper, or is a reminder of earlier days as a child, forming shadows shaped like rabbits, projected onto the bedroom wall with the twisting and bending of fingers against a backlight.

Once exposed to the term suit silhouette, it’s easy to warm up to the almost mystic thought of finding the suit silhouette that creates the right style and emotion. Winston Churchill mastered the art of creating an elegant persona, and while he may not have had the dream body, he presented a divine silhouette with his suiting. Churchill seemed to need to dip his toes into the stream of sartorial poetry while sharpening the serifs of his mind with details and at the same time, tuning his heart towards the pursuit of an almost biting elegance.

The silhouette we create (or have created for us) can form messages without speaking. If we go through our day in silence, still we say something with the way we dress and the gestures we make. I have the impression that a gesture can be carried further than lending a handkerchief from a pocket to a friend, that a gesture can be as simple as having kind eyes, giving up a seat on the train, an easy smile, or showing patience with the clerk who can’t operate the cashier machine.

There seems to be a lack of recognition of the messages we are able to send without even speaking. Perhaps you remember a well-clothed man or woman you saw only momentarily in the past, who didn’t speak a word, but whose image stays with you to this day?

Writing about the silhouette is difficult. It is difficult because the subject is truly profound when considering that globally, the outline of each individual person is unique, a one-of-a-kind. But hopefully, speaking about the influence of the silhouette lends some grace in the attempt to correctly approach this complex and esoteric subject.


The line and proportion of the whole and parts of a suit (lengths and widths) and the ratio between these dimensions forms the silhouette.

A close cousin to the suit silhouette is the suit’s Visual Form, or the final result of fabric cutting, sewing and placement of individual components through tailoring to create the overall lookof the suit.

Specific visual form selections can work together with a correct silhouette to convince the eye into believing that a man of short stature is average height (e.g., raising the gorge on a coat to lengthen the look of the body) or that an overweight man is ten pounds lighter (e.g., close fitting suit, dark fabric, and placement of high armholes to lift posture).

Before fully focusing on the silhouette, there are four areas that must not be compromised. If any of these four areas are neglected, the silhouette can be ruined.

1. fit (without a close to exact fit, creating a silhouette is useless)

2. degree of intimacy with the body (looseness or tightness– intentionally changing the looseness or tightness of a suit for the purpose of getting a better silhouette should be done with a lot of care and attention so that proper fit is never sacrificed.

3. quality and integrity of fabric (a subpar fabric with poor texture and sustainability cannot create a good silhouette)

4. drape (how the suit fabric falls against the body should be considered before selecting a suit fabric to see if the silhouette desired can be well supported by either a stiffer or more drapable fabric).


Daniel Radcliffe, who is 5’5″ (1.65 m) — a close double-breasted fit, solid fabric, structured shoulders, minimal buttons, slightly lengthened trousers with no cuff, coordinating shoes, and a patterned pocket square to draw the eye towards the upper body. The correct silhouette and visual form creates lengthening of the body and the impression of added height.

Here are several design elements that make up the visual form, and create the silhouette:

a) shoulder construction

b) lapel choice

c) gorge height

d) lapel line from collar to working buttonhole

e) number and position of buttons,

f) pocket placement and design,

g) waist design

h) fabric color and pattern

i) vent(s)

j) lapel roll

k) sleeve design

l) paddings and inlays

m) seams, stitching, pipings and pleats. (i)

Already, the silhouette construction has many variables to consider, but still, there is more.


A good place to start in order to narrow down a preferred silhouette, is to know whether astructured or soft silhouette is preferred.

Some examples of each style include:

Structured: The British style is designed close to the torso, with a moderate focus on a typically padded shoulder and celebrated chest area, including a compressed waist. Side vents with a slight skirt flair and cleanly trimmed sleeves and trouser lines lend a feeling of royalty and staunch. Drawing inspiration from the military uniform, the coat is on the long side and fitted, which creates a slight hourglass silhouette.

Savile Row Collections, 2012

Structured: The French-Italian style steps up the shoulder construction to make a statement with artistic and structured shoulders with minimal padding. Strong attention is given to enhancing posture through the use of extremely high armholes. A small chest area is exposed (due to wider lapels, less fabric, and high set armholes) with a compressed waist and minimal fabric drape. There is an air of French aristocracy in this silhouette genre.

Maestro Massimo Cifonelli

Maestro Massimo Cifonelli

Soft: Although the Italian style is highly diverse, it is usually known for its more relaxed Neapolitan or bald soft shoulder construction with less regard to strengthening shoulders as much as to creating a svelte overall body shape without weakening the chest and slightly emphasizing the waist. This look creates a feeling of sprezzatura, an Italian word originating from Baldassare Castoiglione’s book, The Book of Courtier, which alludes to a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it.



Maestro Antonio Panico

Maestro Mariano Rubinacci

Soft: The Ivy League (or American) Style is classic, youthful and comfortable with the jacket falling straight with no pinch at the waist, deemphasized shoulders, and a typically benign chest area. Trousers are usually pleated and cuffed. Think Harvard professor strolling down the campus in Boston.(iv)

House Preference

If a style preference is already settled upon, it is possible to go to a specific tailoring house that specializes in either structured or relaxed suit construction, even down to the specific style genre within the construction. Although not true for all houses, some more successful tailoring houses may be quite committed to creating a specific silhouette and will not want to deviate from their house speciality.

If it is not clear which style is preferred, it can work well to go to a smaller tailoring house who is used to crafting suits with a variety of style options. Working with a smaller house is an excellent way to have a suit crafted and can be an intimate learning experience. With no predetermined house style, smaller houses may be more affordable and more flexible in satisfying different tastes ranging from a preference for soft suiting to opting for a highly structured suit.

Body Considerations

When equipped with a preference for either a structured or relaxed silhouette, a visit to the cutter is in order. The cutter is paramount in creating the bare bones of your silhouette. The cutter records measurements and cuts out the suit, piece by piece, from typically around four yards of fabric.

While there is usually just one cutter handling a suit, there may be more than a dozen tailors working by hand to piece the suit together. The cutter is revered in the tailoring house. There are few, if any craftsman other than the cutter that shows up to work in a handmade suit, sometimes donning his cravate with an antique tie pin or his coat breast pocket with a stately pocketsquare.

Master Richard Anderson

Maestro Lorenzo Cifonelli

Master John Hitchcock

Maitres de Luca, father and son

When evaluating a client, the cutter will compute the following body considerations:

1. Height — Short, tall or average?

2. Weight — Light, heavy, or average?

3. Head — Big, small or balanced?

4. Shoulders — Narrow, broad or balanced?

5. Chest — Strong, weak or balanced?

6. Waist — Big, small or average?

7. Butt — Substantial, flat, or balanced?

8. Legs — Long, short or average?

9. Feet — Big, small, or average?

These body considerations can be analyzed but are also based on the self-perception of the client. And so the house cutter’s responsibility is now elevated to understanding the mind of the client, as well as the body. After the fitting, any area to be improved is identified, as well as any body idiosyncrasies such as a low shoulder, uniquely curved back, or a longer leg. At this point, the cut and the design of the suit can specifically target the areas to be improved and refined through the creation of the overall silhouette and final visual form.


When working with the body to balance and highlight different areas, the cutter can transform a person’s wardrobe by accentuating some places on the body, and diminishing others. The cutter takes developing the silhouette and visual form further by integrating fit, fabric, drape, and body balancing with a strong array of design choices such as shoulder expression, lapel style, waist and pocket design and button placement, to name a few. At this point, the complexity of the process becomes fully apparent.

Take for example, how a cutter may work with a client who is short in stature.

Increasing the Appearance of Height

* Cut armholes high to lift the body and lengthen the silhouette.

* Slightly lengthen the trouser legs for a subtle extension of the lower body.

* Raise lower pockets on the coat to sit around the hip area to appear to lengthen the lower body.

* Limit button quantity on the coat and cuffs, as numerous buttons breaks the vertical line.

* Avoid belt loops and belt to prevent causing a horizontal line that visually “chops the body in half” and diminishes the look of height

* Slightly compress the waist to create more overall lines than a coat that falls straight would create.

* Construct coat pockets with no flaps to keep the vertical line clean.

* Select suit fabric of either a solid color, a fairly muted pattern, or vertical lengthening pinstripes to keep a continual visual flow without pattern distraction.

* Place lapel notch/gorge high on the lapel, to give the appearance of increased height from the shoulders-down.

* Cut trouser waist higher to lengthen the appearance of the legs.

* Keep a lean close-fitting chest for a clean line.

* Cut coat length just covering the seat and not too long to avoid the look of shortened legs.

* Create a long, narrow lapel roll line (the imaginary line measured from the point that the lapel begins (collar section) to the point where the lapel ends (button area) in order to lengthen the appearance of the torso.

* Avoid trouser cuffs, which shorten the appearance of the leg.

* Use a structured shoulder, as the Neapolitan and American shoulders may minimize stature.

Example of a Style Choice that Increases the Appearance of Height

One style recommendation that we like to increase the appearance of height (other than avoiding wearing distracting socks that break the line of the leg) is to draw attention to the upper body with the use of accessories. This can be done quite cleverly and have an astounding affect in terms of keeping the eye high up on the body of someone who is short in stature.


While the list above feels a bit like an algebraic formula, creating the suit silhouette cannot survive formulation without injecting emotion. Injecting the emotion of the client and the cutter into the suit is what brings the suit to life and creates an air of the total man. Here, the well known saying of “first know the rules, and then break them”, has rarely been more exacting and leaves little else to be said.

Sonya Glyn Nicholson – Senior Editor


About Men, Edward Tivnan

ii Sprezzatura, Wikipedia

iii The Beauty of Drapes and Swells and an article on Antonio Panico by Die, Workwear!

iv What is Traditional American Style? Put This On

Zero Collar Gap: The Third Signal of a (good) Handmade Suit

A screaming collar gap ... such a pity for a promising look

Collar Gap Offender

It’s surprising to notice that so many people with exquisite taste fail to notice the importance of a good collar fit with no “collar gap”. In my own experience, I have been slow to pay attention to collar gaps on suits, especially when mesmerized by an otherwise incredible look of an ensemble.

Compared to many readers, I am fairly new to the world of tailoring, with only about two years of suit-making self-study. Yet I have noticed, after spending many years in surgical wear and fabric design (with patents on a major surgical fabric product) that I have gained a real fascination with the dynamics of garment appearance, fit and function. Out of all the components of suit making that I’ve learned to date, it is particularly interesting to watch how collar fit affects the front and back fit of a coat.

Collar fit is such a strong component to the overall look of the suit, and if we start paying attention to different collar presentations, then we can quickly spot examples of a properly sewn suit collar and a poorly constructed suit collar. Here is a prime example of a poorly constructed suit collar that may be “fault elusive” to many. It is a pinterest sensation that is hard not to like, with a real problem–a shouting collar gap:

Even our dear Prince Charles, in his earlier years, made the mistake of wearing a suit with the dreaded collar gap in one of his portraits. Here we see a photo of the Prince years ago, with a text book example of how a collar gap contributes to the front V-Tug of the suit coat. But, not to worry since in the years that followed, prominent Savile Row houses such as Anderson & Sheppard promptly corrected the problem with technical precision. Take a look at the Prince’s before and after photos.

In this photo, we see:

1. an obvious coat collar gap with the jacket pulling away from the shirt,

2. the shirt collar is showing fully underneath the coat collar on the back of the neck, instead of less than 3/4″ (or less than 2 cm) of shirt collar fabric that should extend from the coat collar.

3. the classic front panel V-tug, and “fabric collapsing” in the chest area,

4. a secondary collapsing gap created between one of the lapels on the coat and the shirt itself, causing the lapel to lose its intended straight line.

Of course, the prince does have his hand in his pocket, which can affect the overall look, but since he is doing so carefully while choreographing his pose, we can conclude that his pose probably has minimal affect on the front drape of his coat.

And now, notice the corrections in this suit:

In this photo, we see the following corrections:

1. the suit collar follows the shirt collar closely, with what appears to be around less than 3/4″ (less than 2 cm) of shirt collar showing,

2. there is the correct amount of tugging of fabric around the chest and waist area of the coat, and

3. the overlapping lapel does not rise and curve against the shirt, but lies flat at a straight angle.


To understand the physics of fabric draping that occurs when there is a collar gap, perform a simple exercise:

First, take hold of the back of the collar of the shirt or coat that you are wearing now and pull the collar backwards. You will notice two things that happen:

1.The front panel of your shirt or coat will pull up upwards, creating a “V-Tug” appearance with some fabric collapsing around the chest area.

2. The back of your shirt or coat will “bunch”, creating fabric folds.

When the collar is working in the opposite direction of the neck, an opposing upward pull occurs on the front of the jacket, and fabric is pulled up and “bunches” around the upper back.

Yet, when the collar is sewn properly and hugs the neck, these problems are eliminated.

To illustrate the point, pull your collar downwards, towards your neck, and notice the dynamics that occur in correcting the chest and upper back fit.

In this situation, the fabric on the back of the jacket is secured flush against the body and the fabric in front works with gravity to create a nice drape with the correct amount of tugging around the chest and the waist of a well-sewn suit.

Compare the different upper back results in the following two suits:

Upper back “Bunching”

Smooth upper back

Here, the close fit of the collar is vital in helping the fabric across the upper back lie smoothly against the body.


Most of us are not exactly evenly proportioned. And, it’s not unusual for one shoulder to be lower than the other shoulder. When wearing a ready-to-wear suit, the person with uneven shoulders can see a few problems occur:

If the left shoulder is higher, as seen below, in a ready-to-wear suit that is uniformly sewn,

* a collar gap will form, usually around the shoulder that is set lower, and

* fabric bunching will occur that moves in the direction the higher shoulder (as seen above)

In the photos of Prince Charles above, his right shoulder appears lower than his left shoulder, and the collar gap is showing against his weaker shoulder. In the photo that follows, it appears that his tailor has made the corrections necessary to even out the appearance of his shoulders.

Other than slightly adjusting the coat button positions (moving the buttons a fraction higher or lower) on these problem-suits which are pulling either to the left of the right, or a valiant attempt to slightly pad the lower shoulder, there is little that one can do to correct this type collar gap problem on a ready-to-wear suit. A person with offset shoulders should whenever possible, have his or her suits handmade.


As we take notice of how the collar fits around the neck, we develop an eye for fine tailoring.

Here are some contrasting examples of the bad and the good:

Collar gap with classic V-Tug with collapsing fabric and a curved (instead of straight) left lapel.

And now for the good:

PG Director Greg Jacomet in Cifonelli (who worked with an uneven shoulder). Here there is no collar-gap, around 2 cm of shirt collar showing in back, a straight lapel angle, and the correct amount of front tugging.

Stefan Bernard in a Zegna jacket. Notice the close collar fit on both sides of the neck, and the correct front panel tugging. The lapel angle is intentionally curved instead of straight, with both lapels curved and angled evenly.

Pal Zileri. A nice RTW specimen on all counts.

There are a few things you can do to improve the situation of dealing with a collar gap, ranging from wearing wide-spread shirt collars to mitigate the appearance of the collar opening to looking at having a tailor build up a weak shoulder on the coat, to making a subtle shift in button placement to improve a pull of the coat to the left or to the right (again, usually indicted by uneven shoulders). But, of course, having the collar correctly made to form to your neck from the beginning will save a lot of trouble in the end.

Any fool can know, the point is to understand- Albert Einstein

Sonya Glyn Nicholson


Dress Like a Grown Up

The Garment Doctor: The Collar Gap

Garment Doctor Series

Bespoke Suits in Singapore: Kevin Seah

Kempt: How a Spread Collar Can Improve a Collar Gap

Why Do Men Wear Suits? A Turbo Ride Through Time (1450 – 1900)

Several artists throughout history have attempted to capture the essence of a gentleman through oils and photography. Today we pause for a moment to take a look at a few valiant works that portray gentlemen of the times, art ranging from 1450 – 1900. All of the oil artists have aptly entitled each of the paintings below  “Portrait of a Gentleman”.

POG5 08portra

1450 – Portrait of a Gentleman by Andrea del Castagno, a landmark Italian portraiture, with the gentleman’s right hand clutching the long end of a hood worn over the shoulder. Source: Wiki Paintings

POG4 bartolomeo-veneto-portrait-of-a-gentleman

1512 – Portrait of a Gentleman by Bartolomeo Venet0 (1502 – 1546), Italy. Veneto is said to inspired by DeVinci


1555 – Portrait of a Young Gentleman by Tintoretto, whose real name was Jacopo Comin (1518 – 1594). For his notable energy, he was also known as II Furioso, Source: 1st Art Gallery and Wikipedia


1629 –  Portrait of a Gentleman by Nicolaes Pickenoy (1558-1656), a Dutch Painter of Flemish origin.

POG6 Portrait-Of-A-Gentleman-C

1730 – Portrait of a Gentleman by Vittore Ghislandi (1655 – 1743), who trained in Milan during the post-medieval Baroque period. Source: see below


1742 – Another Portrait of a Gentleman, by Vittore Ghislandi (1655 – 1743) Source: Web Gallery of Art


1809 – Portrait of a Gentleman by an unknown artist Source: Lemon Tea and Earwig Biscuits

pog4 John_Ponsford_Portrait_of_a_gentleman

1842 – Portrait of a Gentleman by John Ponsford (1790 – 1870)

POG 3 wilgus_PortraitOfGentleman-1

1850 (estimated) – Portrait of a Gentleman by William John Wilgus (1819 – 1853), also known for his works of Ichabod Crane and The Headless Horseman Source: Oxford Gallery

POG12 1868

1888 (estimated) – “The Czarevitch”. Nicholas Romanov of Russia (1868-1918), a few years before he ascended the throne in 1894 as Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia Source: J Cosmas Vintage Photography

pog13 Two-gentlemen-seated-carte-de-visite-stavanger-norway

1890s – Carte De Viste, Two Gentleman of Stavanger Source:

POG11 gentleman-wearing-a-top-hat-studio-portrait-by-max-platz-chicago-1900_i-G-37-3725-WHSAF00Z

The Year 1900 – Gentleman Wearing a Top Hat, by Max Platz, Chicago Source:

A Shoulder That Sings: The Second Signal of a Handmade Suit

The thing we know about men is that if they love a certain thing, then they are capable of immersing themselves in the subject of their affection until they become gurus in their own right. And, it is a little fascinating for women to watch this drive that men have to pursue and grasp technical information about the things they care about, to the point of a sort of pleasurable suffering (and there is a growing number of women who have “caught the bug” of wanting to emerse themselves in some of these enchanting worlds such as the arenas of fine spirits, travel, and tailoring).

Lately, more men are expanding their knowledge beyond the subjects of cars, watches, scotch and cigars, and entering into a whole new realm of knowing the pleasure of owning a handmade suit. In this series of The Signals of a Handmade Suit, we jump headfirst into a technical swimming pool of tailoring aspects…to seek what it is about tailoring that gives pleasure to the eyes of men and women when we see a handmade suit. In a way, many of us are becoming aesthetes who simply appreciate beauty. And this penchant for what is beautiful, naturally leads us into the world of tailoring.

While the shoulder area of the suit is one of the easiest places for the tailor to measure, delivering the desired aesthetic look of the shoulder is, in itself…an art .  And, if you recall that the lapel roll can be the first signal of a handmade suit (as discussed in the first article of the series), then perhaps you will agree that quality shoulder expression is next (if not tied for first) as the second signal of a suit made by hand.

Shoulders are the most defining element of the silhouette of a jacket. They can be natural,  soft, convex, concave, lightly padded, padded or built up or knocked-down. Shoulder expression is simply the shape and appearance of the shoulder area of a coat. The shoulder area sets the parameters for the silhouette and drape of the suit,and so a technically correct cut is vital, of course. But just as importantly, is the “feeling” the shoulder expression evokes, creating real messages ranging from tones of professional to regal and from sporty to scholarly. A man who knows and understands himself, and is armed with some bare fundamentals on tailoring, should instinctively know which shoulder expression he prefers.

The construction of the shoulder should complement the build of the body. Sloping shoulders may need padding to lift the area. Narrow shoulders with a gut may want to slightly extend the horizontal shoulder area to offset things a bit. A body with a strong V shape, may shun strong shoulders in favor of more balance. But, a good shoulder construction is not too big (no sagging shoulder crown over the shoulder line) and not too small (provides relative ease in moving arms from front to back). All the rest is a matter of personal taste.

The old way of classifying shoulders types has been through describing where a suit is made. It seems silly these days to do this, since there are so many expats living in different places that we now have access to rich cross-cultural talent in various locations aound the world. And face it, the Italian tailors can’t really be classified because they will do almost anything (and usually do it well). At any rate, since these categories are often referred to, then it is worth a quick look at these designated “shoulder styles”:

1. American

Natural shoulder, very minimal padding, follows the shape of the body. The sack suit, the perennial “preppy look”

2. British

Stiffer suiting with a lightly padded shoulder. which compliments a nipped waist.

3. Italian

Versatile shoulders ranging from a strong and defined shoulder area, either with a “roped” look or with shirring (pleats) that makes the shoulders appear broader, to a natural shoulder made with tailoring precision. Note: Italian expertise in shoulder construction is so varied, that it often overlaps with British and American norms of shoulder expression.


Notice below how by simply altering the shoulder construction of three similar coats, a completely different look for each piece results. Let’s name the shoulder expressions below as:

1. Pagoda Concave “Rope” Shoulder (Italian)

2. Straight Shoulder (British)

3. Sloping Shoulder (American)

Also demonstrated nicely in this photograph, are the main two components that make up the top of the shoulder sleeve: the crown, which is either lifted, left flat or knocked down (as demonstrated above), and the area that connects the sleeve to the coat, the shoulder ridge, which can range from a deep ridge, to a light ridge, to a knocked down ridge, as also shown above.

ITALIAN/FRENCH TAILORING – Expressive and structured shoulders


The Cifonelli Shoulder worn by Alexander Kraft

Higher armholes, cut slightly larger than the norm will give the appearance of an improved posture and broader shoulders. Many Italian tailors pride themselves on the fact that they prefer to eschew shoulder padding in favor of working with canvas and fabric to get the shoulder look they want. A wider shoulder cut allows room to move around (except perhaps not to raise your hands above your head because of the high-cut armholes. But not to worry, since Hugo tells me that whoever wears Cifonelli suits never surrenders anyway).







ITALIAN TAILORING – No padding please

Here are two Italian Neapolitan unpadded shoulder constructions: Left: Pagado, or Con Rollino, which means “with roll” (a very narrow and slightly puckered sleevehead, normally unpadded, where excess fabric bulk pushes up the sleevehead, creating an elegant rope effect). RIGHT: spalla / manica camicia (knocked-down shirt-sleeve tailoring, usually with shirring, which follows the shape of the body and falls naturally and is usually prepared by a high-level RTW house, or a Neapolitan Tailor).

The Neapolitan Touch — Shirring

A notable feature on some Italian shoulder constructions is the process of shirring, or pleat-like folds at the seam where the sleeve connects to the shoulder. In this process, the upper sleeve is cut significantly larger than the armscye (arm cut-out on the coat itself), and since there is more cloth on the outer cut than on the inner cut, the fabric puckers and gathers around the shoulder area, when the sleeve is sewn onto the coat.

One of the best commentaries I’ve seen on the perceptions created by shirring the shoulders is taken from the “London Lounge”:

This is not done for aesthetics, although the devotees of the style certainly claim it is beautiful. To the unknowing eye, it looks sloppy, like a sign of inferior tailoring. But it most definitely is not. It is not to everyone’s taste, however, and de gustibus, as the saying goes. Anyway, it is done for comfort and freedom of movement. Classic Neapolitan coats have very small armholes, very close shoulders, and relatively lean bodies—more roomy than a Roman or Continental coat, but less than traditional Savile Row, and much less than what is typically made in America. The large upper sleeve combined with the tight armhole, draped chest, fullness over the blades, and soft front canvas give the arms a most free range of movement. The coat can be worn all day, in almost any circumstance. The heat might get to you, but you will be able to do whatever it is that you need to do without having to take off your coat. (Within reason.) Source: BespokenN 

 The Roman Shoulder — Yet Another Italian Option

The Roman Shoulder, Brioni

The Roman Shoulder is more structured and, unlike the puckered con rollino shoulder, is unpleated and slightly padded. This construction emphasizes the “V” shape of a man and results in a “masculine look”.

The general rule is that if you have strong shoulders, you may opt for less padding; but if your shoulders are more weak, then it is best to choose padding in the shoulder area, in order to give the illusion of broadening the shoulder area.

BRITISH TAILORING — Straight to the Point

The shoulder line is key on a bespoke suit. Once you have a strong understanding of that, the rest flows from there. ~Ozwald Boateng

According to AW London / Savile Row, there are three British shoulder construction standards:

A Classic British Suit – The Shoulder

1. The shoulders should neither be too narrow or to wide, but slightly hug the shoulder

2. Shoulders should be padded to add structure, rather than bulk

3. There should be a sharp 90 degree right angle between the shoulder and the sleeve of the suit

British tailors have historically used just enough padding to follow the natural shoulder line, with a precision fit that could be suited for the military. Some tailors will barely extend the natural shoulder line so that the sleeve will hang straighter.

AMERICAN TAILORING — No Strange Shoulders, Please

Leonard Logsdail, Custom Tailor, NYC

Neapolitan tailors are known for their unpadded shoulders, and traditional American tailoring is known for the same. This can be a confusing point when trying to differentiate the two international styles.

The 1980s left pictures in our heads of Americans dressed like MC Hammer in oversized coats that gave the appearance that men everywhere had borrowed an oversized Marlon Brando jacket for the evening. With this image difficult to shake, many American men are finally discovering the elation that a properly fitted suit brings. Fine tailors like Nino Corvato and Leonard Logsdail of NYC are getting the look right. And American men seem to trust Anderson & Sheppard in London to make a well-tailored suit that they don’t feel strange wearing.

And also, not everyone wants to emphasize their shoulders. Some shoulders are so broad, that broadening them out more with a wide shoulder design would result in looking like a carnival Strongman. Others just want a balanced shoulder that doesn’t draw attention to itself. Instead, a more sporty or toned-down look is wanted with soft shoulders that have a natural and continuous line running from the top of the shoulder towards the arm. Hence, the sloping shoulder construction comes to the rescue.

How Much Knowledge is Enough?

There is much more detail that can be given about how the shoulder of a handmade suit is constructed, but hopefully for those not already familiar with shoulder construction options for a suit, with a simple familiarization about which shoulder options are out there, we are able to make informed choices, instead of simply “hoping for the best” when investing in a handmade suit.

Sonya Glyn Nicholson


Valet Handbook

Shoulder Expression, Style Forum, Jeffery D.

The London Cut, James Sherwood

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