The Tip Of The Shoulder: A Guide to Suit Shoulder Styles

Roping The Shoulder

Suiting shoulders come in various forms, based on various styles, and derived from different regions throughout the world and the culture associated with them. Roping on a shoulder could not be characterized as a unique shoulder style, but instead more of a unique feature of a jacket. The shoulder roping on a jacket is what some consider the most defining feature or characteristic that differentiates a suit. Roping implies that the sleeve attachment is slightly raised. This is in relation to the shoulder, forming a ridge. The higher it is, the more imposing the shoulder line appears.

Some credit the Italians with the roped shoulder, but most accept that it has been primarily came to relevance through classic British tailoring. A roped shoulder or sleeve head describes the bumped shape or ridge of the sleeve’s attachment to the shoulder. This can often be found in iconic British tailoring. Roping itself is a British military style, making it suitable for the very structured almost naval style of British suiting. Italian and other Europeans tailors have adopted this British style, and it has only recently made its way into American tailoring.

The cut of a  jacket shoulder is often synonymous with the tailor shop that provides the garment. In the end there are many interchangeable terms used for many of the shoulder styles below. We we have tried to develop an easy categorized reference of general terms for you to use to describe your ideal style. 

The Modern American

The Modern American shoulder is often referred to as the Roman Shoulder. This is due to its growth in popularity in Rome during the rise of Italian tailoring. Most commonly association with the iconic roman suit manufacturer Brioni. The Modern American Shoulder is the most common style of shoulder outside of Britain and Italy. When looking at the shoulder, it is clear that the structure of the shoulder is midway point between the classic structure of an English Roped Shoulder and the unstructured Italian Shoulder. There are slight variations to this shoulder, sometimes referred to as a “Con Rollino” shoulder by Italian tailors, and the “Continental” shoulder by other European and American Tailors.

This form of lightly padded shoulder is canvased to reinforce the chest, and finished with a strong straight line from the edge of the collar down to the edge of the shoulder line. Most recently this form of shoulder has become popular through designers such as Hugo Boss and Ralph Lauren.

The Italian Shoulder

One of the most comfortable shoulder styles is the classic Italian shoulder. Often referred to as an unstructured shoulder. It is designed to drape naturally over the shoulders and to follow the natural shoulder line of a mans body, using only a thin layer of canvas for structure. All aspects of this design from the natural drape to the smaller arm hole are all created to give the complete free range of motion. 

This leisurely aesthetic look come to popularity through Italian Tailoring houses Boglioli and Rubinacci.

The English Roped

An English suit is the most structured of all suits styles. The English shoulder is no exception. When thinking of an English shoulder, Huntsman’s strong, built-up shoulders usually come to mind.  Typically, the padding is used to give the shoulders clean lines and a more defined structure. The idea is not to change the shape of the body, but to draw the eye to the strongest aspects of an individual. Providing an almost militant look and characteristic.

The Spalla Camicia

What we here refer to as the “Spalla Camicia” shoulder (Italian for shirt sleeve), is a variation of the soft Italian shoulder. Sharing the majority of its similarities to the Italian shoulder, its defining feature of unique shirring along the shoulder line gives it a specific distinction placing it in a category of its own.

Many consider the Spalla Camicia as a status symbol or mark of distinction in the Italian tailoring world. It demonstrates a level of tailoring skill that only the most precise steady hand can accomplish. Due to the nature of the shoulder, it is not a specific mark from any one tailor house, but rather a form to demonstrate the meticulous nature of true handmade bespoke tailoring.

The Italian Roped or "Cifonelli" Shoulder

The Italian Roped shoulder, Cifonelli shoulder, or what we sometimes refer to as a soft Pagoda shoulder, is highly structured with an exaggerated sloping curve from the collar to the seam of the shoulder line. This garment style has become a popular choice for formal wear. Recently coming back in to fame through popular designer Tom Ford, and a number of British tailoring houses.

Dictate Your Own Style

We at Brenton & Co always believe in the right jacket for the right man. Your styles and preferences change but no matter the occasion you can always rest assured that our skill and knowledge will guide you through any of your sartorial needs. 

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