House Style: The English Drape cut
Anderson & Sheppard’s rich history as a Savile row tailor goes back to 1906, and at the core of that story is the English Drape cut: a now-classic suiting silhouette, that surfaced as a more comfortable alternative to the rigid constraints of military dress early in the 20th century. The appeal of the English Drape is neatly illustrated by one of Savile Row’s most enduring anecdotes. Fred Astaire, when visiting Anderson & Sheppard, would dance around the fitting room with one eye on the surrounding mirrors, monitoring how his suit was responding to his movement and checking that the coat remained flush against his neck.
Many decades later, Anderson & Sheppard remains the Savile row tailor of the English Drape and our garments are still made in such a way that the wearer’s movement has minimal impact on how the jacket behaves. Characteristic features of English Drape include a small, high armhole with additional fullness given instead through the sleeve head, a natural shoulder line and a full chest with a distinctive vertical drape. These elements, and the way the collar sits on the back of the neck, allow for the arm to move freely, but with the jacket always staying doggedly in situ. The shoulders, meanwhile, are soft and natural with minimal padding, ensuring a clean, rounded line. And the use of an extremely light canvas (the layer between a Jacket’s lining and its main fabric) gives a less-structured, more- yielding and relaxed look.
As Managing Director Colin Heywood explains it: “We perform a bit of ‘sartorial magic’ by combining drape through the chest with a high armhole. That helps keep the jacket body in position, gives the wearer good, free movement, and it looks elegant as well. It sounds like a contradiction when you say the armhole is high, because customers sometimes think that means it’s going to be restrictive, but it’s not; you move so freely that you’re hardly aware you have a jacket on.”
Anderson & Sheppard remains the spiritual home of the English Drape to this day, thanks to three key factors. Firstly, the firm’s steadfast commitment to this as our house style. Secondly, our unerring faith in the tailor’s instinct. The same cutter who takes the customer’s measurements will cut patterns immediately afterwards, so that any idiosyncrasies of proportion and posture are fresh in the memory. And thirdly, the increasingly soft, high-performing fabrics we source, the high-twist yarns of which offer an improved silhouette as well as better comfort, durability and crease resistance.