Mason & Sons Neapolitan Cut: A New Chapter

We’re incredibly excited to introduce the Neapolitan Cut, a new line of Special Order tailoring from Mason & Sons which was initially scheduled for a Spring/Summer 2020 launch with a photoshoot in Naples, but the international travel restrictions sadly stalled our plans. As the missed season drew to a close, David and Elliot Mason took a final opportunity to test-drive their new clothes on a visit to the classic and supercar hub, Duke of London. Surrounded by Ferraris and Lambrettas, and eating at Santa Maria (the on-site authentic Neapolitan pizzeria), the location provided a suitable alternative to the originally intended part of southern Italy, and we are most grateful to the McCormack family and their colleagues for their kind hospitality.

All photographs by Rob Baker Ashton.

Elliot Mason in Neapolitan Cut suit, shot at Duke of London.

The Conduit Cut suit has been the central pillar of the Mason & Sons Special Order tailoring offering since 2016, and it’s also been original Bond tailor Anthony Sinclair's house style since the 1950s. It’s what we know, and it’s what we preach and serve. However, we hope you’ll agree that it always pays to be outward-looking and learn to appreciate other cultures and their styles. Naples is one such place. It's an ancient city so sensationally sweet in its cultural fruits and nonchalant in its attitude towards life and clothing. If you’ve been, you’ll know. If you haven’t, you must go. 

Now, the world is of course evolving, and in a spiral tandem so are the clothes we wear habitually. There’s no need to go languish on the changing codes of dress in the workplace. But, it’s important to state that a formally structured suit will always have its place, its uses and its qualities. The move to a more relaxed silhouette via southern Italy clearly has its merits and we at Mason & Sons have huge amounts of respect and admiration for it... as, of course, we do for some of the motor vehicles that have been produced in the country.

David Mason wondering, "If James Bond had been Italian, would he have worn a Neapolitan Cut suit – and driven a Ferrari 330 America?"  

Did you know that Neapolitan tailoring is a style of suiting that’s existed for less than 100 years and that it stems from Savile Row traditions?

Legend has that that back in the 1930s Gennaro Rubinacci, the founder of the eponymous tailoring dynasty, advised an apprentice cutter called Vincenzo Attolini to reimagine the British Drape Cut, which was created by Frederick Scholte when at Anderson & Sheppard back in the thirties. Naples is of course a sun-baked, harshly humid and bustling city, and so English tailoring and textiles don't perform quite so well. As such, this young apprentice was tasked with creating a jacket that was totally different – one that wore like a second skin. 

Reflecting on the soft, natural lines of the Neapolitan Cut. 

So how did he do this? Well, he quite simply removed practically all of the structural components on the inside of the jacket. These included the padding across the chest and shoulders and much of the interlining, leaving only a small bit of canvas across the front panels. The result was a much lighter and breathable coat but still with the same ease of movement thanks to the retention of the high-armhole favoured by the renowned Savile Row tailoring house. 

Lightweight and breathable Neapolitan Cut coat. 

The more stylised areas of the jacket changed too. Conservative lapels grew in size into something much more liberal and expressive, and the notch and gorge dropped to allude to a more flamboyant shape. The jacket’s shoulders took on an appearance more like a shirt sleeve, which became known as spalla camicia (translation: shirt sleeve). Jetted and flap pockets became more relaxed patch iterations. The breast pocket was reimagined to look like a little boat (otherwise known as barchetta) and the pin-prick stitching ran not only around the edges of the lapel, but also along all other seams (including shoulders) for artisanal expression. It was a new vision of tailoring, and there’s so much to it that many books extol all of its many virtues. 

Hand-sewn "Neapolitan" buttonhole and exuberant use of pin-prick stitching. 

In regards to our Neapolitan Cut, much of the stylistic notes above exist. But, as with our custom-order offering, there’s room for – you guessed it – customisation. It’s for that reason that David and Elliot both sport two different suits each, which we will now break down. First, we have David who wears a single-breasted, full-canvas, half-lined suit with notch lapels made up in a tropical wool from Loro Piana.

Loro Piana "Twister" cloth chosen for David's suit also "frames" the internal jetted pockets. 

It’s the most conservative, boardroom-appropriate (even Zoom, too) creation we made, as evidenced via not only just the cloth, but the three flap pockets and two closure buttons in Mother of Pearl. However, the shoulder line is much more natural than the traditional roped sleevehead of the Conduit Cut suit, offering a more relaxed look. 

Neapolitan Cut suit with natural shoulder. 

On the jacket’s cuffs, we have what’s called kissing buttons, with each one cutely stacked up on the next one – consider it as a little bit of subtle flair. This leads well to the shirt and there are currently two styles available for Special Order. The first one, as worn by David, is made in a cotton and linen blend from Thomas Mason’s Zephyr bunch.

Kissing sleeve buttons and mitred shirt cuff. 

It features a cutaway collar that has a wider spread than our cocktail cuff shirts, and it comes with a very soft interlining. The sleeve has also been gathered into the shoulder with neat pleats which, together with the shallow armhole offers a high degree of movement and comfort. It also has double-cuff with mitred corners, which is a tad dressy, making a nice juxtaposition with the relaxed shirt.

Soft collar and gathered pleats around the armhole, yoke and cuffs are features of our Neapolitan Cut shirt. 

The second shirt is more straightforward, with a two button cuff and a hidden button down collar, again with a soft interlining. Elliot can be seen wearing this in pale blue with his striking Solaro suit.

Soft tailoring calls for soft shirts. 

Elliot's suit has dramatic peak lapels with a generous belly and four buttons that draw the eye to the central area of the jacket. It also features a spalla camicia shoulder, which is a bit more noticeable than David’s due to the cloth’s pattern, kissing buttons on the cuffs and pick stitching along the seams. 

The Solaro suit is perfect for Ferrari shopping. 

It’s worth paying attention to the trousers, as you will notice that they come with a single reverse-facing pleat, which is a first for us at Mason & Sons. English tailors traditionally prefer forward-facing pleats, but the Italian’s favour the reverse style. This is because the extra cloth used to create this fold is taken from the outside of the hips and legs. This, in turn, casts less of a shadow on the frontside of the leg in comparison to forward-facing pleats. Elsewhere, there’s also an extended waistband secured with a single belt loop and button closure, together with side-adjusters for an overall sharper, more striking pair of trousers.

Here, you can see the pick-stitching finishing plus the reverse-facing single pleat, waistband extension and side-adjusters.

The second set of suits sported by David and Elliot further underline the casual qualities of the Neapolitan Cut. Both have had suits made in plain seersuckers – David’s sober navy sourced from Solbiati and Elliot’s punchy red from Ariston – and one is of course single-breasted and the other double-breasted.  

David and Elliot both in their seersucker suits and in typical British fashion, the rain decided to come out. 

Comparing these two against the first makes it clear how much you’re able to customise your suit. For example, Elliot’s double-breasted solaro suit featured jetted pockets, while David has opted for flap pockets for his navy seersucker and has paired it with a soft, hidden button-down shirt. 

A knitted tie and linen pocket square complete the look.

Elliot decided to opt for patch pockets on his single-breasted suit, whereas David went for flap pockets. The rounded corners of the patch pockets used on Neapolitan Cut suits are more curvaceous than the relatively sober Conduit Cut.

Astride a scooter and protected from the rain, the setting begins to feel a little more Neapolitan again.

A further telling Neapolitan signature is that Elliot has a three-roll-two button configuration with his red seersucker suit which creates a more relaxed look and the bottom quarters of the jacket are more open. David, on the other hand, opted for just two buttons for his single-breasted grey suit. The choice is very much yours. 

The shoot culminates with a few Neapolitan pizzas at Duke of London's Santa Maria restaurant. 

All in all, the Neapolitan Cut is a more casual style of tailoring than the Conduit Cut. It doesn’t stem from the military like most English tailoring does. But, that’s not to say that’s it’s not fit for the corporate world – it most definitely is and you’ll be the most comfortable cat in the room. It’s also worth knowing that because the jacket is more casual in appearance, it also lends itself better to being worn without a tie. Sports jackets are increasingly more popular commissions these days with Neapolitan tailoring, not just two and three-piece suits, and we have a wide-range of cloth options for this. 

Tucking in!

Finally, we should add, the Neapolitan Cut is not something that we are planning to reserve just for the warm seasons. We have just received all of our Fall/Winter swatch books from the likes of Loro Piana and Ariston, so you with be able to drive your Ferrari (or eat pizza) in comfort and style throughout the year.

Please don't hesitate to Contact Us for more information about our latest collection.