Glossary of men's coat: Neapolitan Shoulder explained
If you prefer made-to-measure suits, you may have already heard about the Neapolitan Shoulder, but in case you haven't - let us tell you a little more about it.
The Neapolitan Shoulder was originally invented in Naples by an unknown tailor by mistake. He cut the sleeves larger than the arm holes and they didn't fit properly, which created some obvious creases that puffed out from the shoulder seam and down the sleeve. Shortly after some local dandies started to adopt this style and it became a trend throughout the men's community in the city. Nowadays this is 'the coolest and most sought after type of shoulder for men's jackets and shirts'.
There are three main things, which distinguish the Neapolitan shoulder:
- lack of padding;
- pleated sleeve heads;
- spalla camicia ('shirt shoulder').
Most Neapolitan coats have minimal or even no padding at all, because they are meant to be ultra soft and give their owners comfortable moves. Non padded shoulders have to be measured in increments of 8ths or even 16ths and that's the reason why they are almost never seen in ready-to-wear. Neapolitan shoulders are more sloped, soft and rounded and they need a really good tailor to make them perfectly fit the man's shoulder line.
'Pleated' sleeve heads in this case means that the upper sleeve is deliberately cut much larger than the (typically very small) armscye. After that the excess cloth is fed into the scye as the sleeve is hand-set into the body of the coat, which can not be done by machine. When the sleeve is completely sewn, that extra cloth is gathered and puckered around the scye, which looks really beautiful according to Neapolitan style lovers, but is done for comfort and freedom of movement. This makes the classic Neapolitan coats more attractive, having in mind that they usually have very small arm holes, very close shoulders, and relatively lean bodies. The Neapolitan shouldered coat can be worn all day and is suitable for almost every occasion.
Spalla camicia or 'shirt shoulder' means that both strips of seam allowance are folded in the same direction - back under the shoulder.
Experts say that the Neapolitan shoulder is
'the quintessential element for exceptional fit on a jacket'.
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