When The Rake asked me if I wanted to write a guide to Milanese tailoring, I didn't think twice before readily agreeing. And not only because I've been a faithful reader for years now and a passionate observer of classic men's style; no, my chief motivation was something else – it seemed like the perfect opportunity to delve deeper into a question that often plays on my mind: is there such a thing as the Milanese jacket? Or is it merely a variation on the theme of the Caraceni jacket? One thing is certain, the Milanese tailoring of jackets – compared to the rest of Italy – is the closest it gets to English style. This resemblance is most apparent in the extensive use of liner fabrics: canvas, horsehair, flannel for the chest, reinforcement canvas for the yoke (the so-called "spallaccio") and shoulder pads. The differences can be discerned in the cut, the style, and consequently the size, which in Milan tend to be less restrictive than your typical of Savile Row creation, although more structured than anything you are likely to find in the rest of the Bel Paese. So fasten your braces and get set for my diagnosis.
The tour kicks off by examining two jackets made by renowned tailors who carry the same surname: Augusto Caraceni and Ferdinando Caraceni. Let me just start by inviting any readers oblivious to these names to turn the page, and revel in their fused construction jackets. I'm quietly confident, however, that readers of The Rake are well versed in both general tailoring and with the clan in question, whose name is to tailoring what Ferrari is to the motor trade, what Krug is to champagne. Our next port of call was Musella Dembech, who makes jackets that break the confines of the more traditional Milanese fare, before making a final stop at Prata & Mastrale, who perhaps tailor the least recognisably Milanese jacket of the four, although retaining some of the features that allow it to be included in this guide.