In my last post I mentioned I might make another jacket. “Oh no, not another Jacket” I hear you cry! well I’m afraid so. I have made many different Jackets and coats, both for myself and for other people: English, Tweed, Wool, Linen, Velvet, peaked lapel, notched lapel, lined, part-lined, mens and ladies. To this day though, I have never made one of my favourite jackets.
Step forward Italy, more precisely Naples. I shall be making a Neapolitan jacket.
Let me explain…… I love Italy, the county, weather, food, drink and style. I have been lucky to visit on many occasions and the one thing that always strikes me is the clothing, both male and female. Similar to France, especially in Paris, Italy presents beautiful designer clad women, elegant and alluring: The men look sharp, professional and stylish but with the little continental twist of ‘relax’ and Naples is probably why.
Italy has a renowned tailoring tradition but a small group of artisan tailors in Naples changed the rule book and the Neapolitan style was born.
So what is the difference? Typically, English and American jackets are very formal with impeccable fit and structure. The Neapolitan jacket is certainly not formal although has its own formality. It is designed and made to live in and to be lived in. The jacket is minimally structured and lightweight (suitable for the hot Italian climate) but it is still tailored to fit well.
‘Sprezzatura’ is what the Italians call it: Nonchalance for you and I. The jacket is defined by many ‘nonchalant’ features. Features such as the soft shoulder: It is not heavily padded (actually very often has no padding at all!) but more akin to a shirt shoulder or ‘spalla camicia’. The seam is folded back towards the jacket to lie on the shoulder as a shirt sleeve seam is. This allows the fabric to follow the shoulder line and fall naturally.
The other typically Neapolitan feature is the sleeve head. You might have noticed in the picture above, it has puckers/pleats/shirrs or whatever you want to call them! Yep the sleeve head is cut bigger and fitted to the arm scythe making lovely pleats in top of the shoulders. (I am sure many will revolt but I love it)
It is funny but in all my years of sewing I have always tried hard to set-in sleeves without any kinks, puckers, pleats and now I want to do the opposite!
So what else does the Neapolitan jacket have to offer? Well I said it was lightweight, generally unlined or only partially lined (again something I have not really done. I always fully line jackets). The jacket is minimally structured; minimal interfacing and certainly no heavyweight canvas between layers. The gorge line is generally higher than the English cousin (the gorge line is where the top of the lapel meets the collar) and the collar is a little higher.
Lapels are a little wider and not always pressed but more loosely rolled towards the body and the entire shape of the jacket is very streamlined with a cinched waist and high arm scythe. A very typical Neapolitan feature is with the pockets. The ‘Barchetta’ or ‘little boat’ welt breast pocket is beautiful. Curved like a little boat! Definitely not an easy task compared to a straight welt pocket!
The lower pockets are usually patch pockets called ‘tasca a pignata’ and have a very distinctive shape. Tapered sides with a rounded bottom similar to a brandy glass (roughly translated tasca a pignata means pocket of cooking pot)
So my next post will show the complete make of this iconic style of jacket. I cannot claim to be making a Neapolitan jacket but a Neapolitan ‘style’ jacket. The tailors of Naples all have their own differences and style tweaks but follow roughly the same style ideas.
My jacket will be a ‘Devonopolitan’ version. I will take the ideas I like from the various Sartoria of Naples and put them into my make. I will have the soft shoulders, lightweight construction and pignata patch pockets. I will try to make the barchetta welt breast pocket and will definitely go for the true Naples style.
So I have made a start and drafted the pattern pieces…
The next step….Make it and blog about the adventure. Watch this space for my next tutorial on how to make a classic Italian (Devonian) masterpiece!
Until next time…..Happy sewing