*Ralph Lauren, pictured in a highly structured suit jacket (source: web)
Compare the almost 90 degree angle between RL’s neck and shoulder (built up with padding) with our pictures below (where the shoulder slope sits more naturally)
‘Cut’ can be broken up into three primary categories
1) The Shoulders:
A sharp shoulder requires padding to build sharpness. The power suit of the 80s is a good / bad (depending on your viewpoint) example of padding.
A more relaxed shoulder has less padding, less structure, less sharpness.
It will sit more naturally on the wearers shoulder, closer to the skin, angled appropriately with the curvature of the body.
In most cases, a blazer (or sports coat) will typically have a more relaxed shoulder than a suit jacket.
*Sleeve Head Roping: On the left, a little roping. On the right, the natural drop of the shoulder, an almost uninterrupted line, from collar to sleeve.
2) Sleeve Head
A second consideration of ‘Cut’ is the sleeve head. Where the sleeve and shoulder seam meet.
In pic 1 above we have a slight roping, i.e. if you follow the line of the shoulder, from the left of the picture to the right, you’ll note the shoulder ‘bumps’ over the sleeve head.
In pic 2, the shoulder falls away naturally.
Roping is another indication of structure.
And structure lends formality.
So a blazer will normally have a lack of roping. The shoulder will sit more naturally. It is, afterall, less formal. It marries well with less formal trouser options.
*Peak lapels on the left (on a double breasted, blue flannel jacket). Notch on the right (single breasted, tweed sports coat).
The lapel of a jacket is where the neck piece meets the collar, typically, just below the collar bone.
There are three types of lapels – peak (seen here on the left). Notch, on the right. And shawl (not shown but almost exclusively reserved for tuxedos).
The vast majority of single breasted suit jackets these days are cut with notch lapels.
Peak lapels have their origins in the military. Because of this, they are, historically, considered more formal.
As well as close associations with double breasted jackets (also considered more formal) peak lapels (along with the shawl) are acceptable on tuxedos.
(Whereas a notch lapel is to be avoided when considering your tuxedo game).
Whilst it’s relatively uncommon to see peak lapels on off-the-peg jackets, it’s worth noting that there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s not a fashion faux pas by any means. And given Wolf in Wool’s wealth of custom tailoring options, all lapels can be arranged.
We would simply advise that, if you’re after a casual custom sports coat or, everyday work suit, I’d err on the notch lapel side. For a bit more of a statement piece, definitely consider peak lapels as an option in your wardrobe.
On the left, a worsted wool suit jacket, paired with tan chinos. On the right, a casual hopsack blazer, paired with the same chinos. The more casual cloth of the hopsack, cut in a softer shape, helps reenforce the more relaxed look overall. Avoiding the ‘Clarkson Effect’
You have different shoes to do different things. Runners and football boots. Polished leather shoes and casual suede.
The same logic should apply to your jackets.
A sharply cut suit jacket is inherently formal. It is meant to be. It’s built as such. It’s suited to more formal occasions.
When paired with non-formal pants, you are asking it to do something it wasn’t designed to do.
The solution is to have at least one sports coat / blazer in your wardrobe to ‘bridge the gap’.
The cloth, as discussed in the first post in this series, should be less sleek, less smooth.
The cut, as discussed here, should be less sharp. Softer, more relaxed.
Shoulders without much padding or structure. A sleeve head that coutures more naturally. Notch lapels on a single breasted coat (note: you have some flex on this point!)
In the final part of this series, we’re set to discuss the final C on our journey, ‘Construction’.
To see more of our wool garments, check us out on instragram (@wolfinwool_) or, design your own via our Suit Designer at awolfinwool.com.
As always, thanks for reading.
We’ll speak again soon
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