Wardrobe IQ

The Myth about Italian Fits & Sizing

One common misconception is that Italian fits are made only for “skinny guys.” This is totally false; there are big, fat and tall Italians...where do they shop? Go to Germany over the holidays? All kidding aside, in this section we're going to dispell a few common myths and clear up why Italian fit suits will fit just about anyone better. The first area is the "drop size." When we talk about the drop size in Italy, it's the measurement of the armhole through the waist of the jacket. There are 6 drops in true Italian fits, which are: 0, 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8 with zero being least and eight being the most tapered. The same concept applies for the slacks, where a “drop zero” would have a lower crotch, larger thighs and more room in the seat.

In American sizing when we talk about a “Drop” it’s the difference between shoulder and waist of the pants. Most drops range from 5 to 8 inches. This is the why the salesperson grabs the back of the jacket and tells you look great once you are in front of the mirror. However, if you are buying a garment today, you should be buying a jacket with side vents and it is not an easy alteration to take in the sides on a side-vented jacket. You will need a good tailor, not a seamstress, which is what you find in most men’s clothing stores.

Now that you know the differences between the “drops,” let’s look at the sizing and how it all fits together. With a jacket, you simply add 10 to the American size to get the Italian size, e.g. a 40 = 50 and so on. For slacks, add 16 to the American size, e.g. a 34 = 50. If you are buying a true Italian fit off the rack, just the fact that there are two numbers used to determine the size, it will fit better. This is even truer for made-to-measure suits as all MTM suits are made from a try-on suit size and it will better fit your silhouette.

Casual Sartorial: The Earliest 21st Century Expression
March 21, 2011

Changes in menswear fashion trends don’t happen overnight, they’re like an undercurrent that slowly but surely reverses a tide or pushes it in a new direction. Most of the time, changes in menswear designs are subtle – cuffed pants are in, and then they’re out. Pleats are in, then and they’re out. And some expressions once gone, stay gone. Very rarely does an entirely new category of dress emerge. Enter what I have coined as “Casual Sartorial."

You will likely start to notice (if you haven’t already) that the big chain retailers will carry soft jackets, but beware: not all jackets are created equally. Italian manufacturers have perfected their fits, they offer a wide range of fabrics, and allow for additional details such as various buttons & elbow patch options to personalize your jacket. I have toured one Italian manufacturer’s factory and I know for a fact that their soft jackets have six key design elements that frankly, make them better:

1. They have no canvassed interior, which dramatically lightens the weight.

2. Since there is no canvass inside, they add a fabric binding support structure behind the front buttons and buttonhole closure on each side of the front of the jacket so that the fabric will not bend – soft garments’ front panel have a tendency to “open up.” This binding doesn’t allow this to happen.

3. They have no lining on the inside panel other than in the sleeve to facilitate the arm’s movements for putting on, taking off the jacket, and moving around while wearing it.

4. Since garments have no lining, all fabric edges are cleaned and sewn to make the inside of the garment as beautiful as the outside.

5. The jacket sleeve is a “Neapolitan Shoulder,” which is a method of attaching the sleeve to the body of the jacket that is more similar to the way a shirt is constructed than a traditional jacket. Therefore the jacket fits the shoulder much closer to the skin.

6. The soft construction is sewn in a way that can be treated by a tailor as a fully alterable garment. This last design element is really key. If you’re in the market for a soft jacket, be sure to ask your clothier if the jacket is “alterable” because that will be an indicator of quality.

  Soft jackets are designed to fit like a wrap or second skin. They are not meant to drape like a wool suit, but rather take the form of your body. Being unconstructed, they don’t have their own form and take on the form of the wearer. Most people think that soft jackets are only for fit or skinny men, but that’s not true. The key is having it fit your body type, whatever your body type may be. As long as the garment wraps you, you’ll feel incredibly comfortable in the piece and look great. And if you have a unique shape, a few places like Dash’s are doing custom soft jackets which could be an ideal solution.

Weighing as little as twelve ounces, these jackets are great for traveling, for “keeping your cool” in a business meeting, or for throwing on before running out the door to see friends at a pub. Because weight and fit are so well balanced in these jackets, the buyer can focus on what type, color, pattern and fabric material.

My customers who have bought soft jackets talk about how they “fell in love” with them in a way they never have with a traditional suit. I see soft jackets as the future of men’s sartorial expressions – not replacing traditional suits, but creating space for expression in between business formal vs. business casual and allowing guys to control their expression very strategically (i.e., tie vs. no tie, loafers vs. lace-ups, dark or light trousers; these factors can all be used to dial up or down a look without making you look over or underdressing for an occasion).

This is a classic win-win for the manufacturers that got out ahead of the rest and have really worked to perfect the soft jacket. I’ve been a tradition suit guy for years, but it’s out with the old and in the newer and smarter way of thinking about sartorial pieces.


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