A Guide to Suit Jacket Shoulders

A quick guide to the types of shoulder construction. These are the basic three, but keep in mind that a jacket can be one of these, or a combination of them.

The Natural Shoulder (American)

What It Is

The natural shoulder, as the name suggests, follows the body’s natural curves; it is a relatively unstructured shoulder, with little to no padding.

American Shoulder

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When To Wear It

Because it has limited padding, this jacket type is best worn by those who already have strong shoulder profiles, and don’t want to build or draw attention to the shoulders.Also, because of it’s unstructured appearance, this style is considered more sporty than the alternatives, and more casual; although it is still used in regular business suits as well.

The Roped Shoulder (Italian)

What Is It

The roped shoulder will have slightly more padding than a natural shoulder, along with higher arm holes; these higher armholes give the greatest ease of movement of all the jacket types. It is known as the roped shoulder because it appears as though a rope has been placed under the sleeve joint, raising it higher than the shoulder.

Italian Shoulder

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When To Wear It

The Roped Shoulder conveys a more rigid, formal look, and builds up the shoulders, so it is good for more formal jackets, and men with smaller shoulders. As Esquire says, it “conveys a rigorous formality and a little old-school glamour”.

The Padded Shoulder (British)

What Is It

The traditional british suit shoulder will have a light padding that builds on the shoulders, and will typically be stiffer than it’s counterparts. The shoulders won’t be excessively padded, but just enough that it creates a sharper angle in the corner, emphasising the shoulders and creating a more masculine body shape.

British Shoulder

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When To Wear It

When you have smaller, or sloping shoulders, and want to add a bit of bulk. The British style shoulder is the most structured and formal of the three, and makes for an excellent power suit.

For a more in-depth guide, check out this article by Parisian Gentleman

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