England vs. Italy: Sartorial Showdown

In the world of men’s tailoring, there are two highly influential styles: English and Italian. The English style is epitomized by the traditional tailoring houses of Savile Row in London’s Mayfair neighborhood. The Italian look is more geographically diffuse, although Naples (as represented by the incomparable Gianluca Isaia), is arguably “the most Italian” style.

What are the hallmarks of English and Italian tailoring? And which look is right for you? Here’s a quick guide:

Shoulder

In general, the shoulder is structured and sharp in English tailoring, whereas the Italian shoulder is rounded and fits closer to the body. The Italian shoulder is more natural in appearance.

Gorge

In tailoring terms, the gorge is the seam joining the collar of the jacket to the lapel. Italian jackets have a higher gorge line than English jackets, which means the notches of the lapel also sit higher on the jacket.

Button stance

The top button is placed higher on an Italian jacket. On an English jacket, the buttons sit lower, at the waist, and are closer together. This is particularly evident on a double-breasted jacket.

Jacket length

An English jacket is longer, and the “skirt” may be slightly flared. An Italian jacket tends to be shorter—a more modern look—and fits more closely (although not tightly) around the hips.

Drape

Some Savile Row tailors, especially Anderson & Shepherd, are known for the “drape” of their jackets. It’s a looser fitting, almost slouchy look. The quintessential Italian jacket, on the other hand, has a more fitted appearance around the chest.

Pants

English suit trousers are typically higher waisted. They are fuller in the hips and leg, and tend to have pleats. Italian suit trousers, by contrast, have a lower rise, are slimmer throughout, and generally have a flat front.

So what’s the final result of this England-Italy showdown? In tailoring as in soccer (er, football), Italy edges out England. That’s our decided opinion as your local fashion referee. Come by the store, slip on an Isaia sportcoat, and we’ll prove it to you!

This double-breasted suit by Anderson & Shepherd, one of the best-known Savile Row tailors, epitomizes the English look as well as the A&S house style, with structured shoulders, a roomy cut with plenty of “drape,” a longer jacket and full-cut trousers. Have you recently inherited a dukedom? This may be the look for you.
These three looks show the range of Canali’s Italian style. Note the high gorge line, high button stance and shorter jacket length. The guy on the right displays the most typical Italian shoulder—far softer in appearance than its English counterpart.
Here’s a summery suit by the London tailor Edward Sexton. The over-wide shoulders and lapels are exaggerated elements of the English look.
Master of the Neapolitan look, Isaia creates clothing that is resolutely masculine in appearance. Note the beautifully set shoulders and the way the jacket on the center model skims the body without being at all tight.
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