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24. April 2019

The Mad Tailor: What is Drape?


Maximilian Mogg

‘Drape’ is a term that any budding sartorialist will come across at some point in their reading. However, just what is it? In the most general terms, it is a specific feature that is characteristic of certain British tailoring houses; one that is a major inspiration for us at Maximilian Mogg.

The origin of the classic British Drape

First, a note on the name: ‘Drape’ from the French word ‘drap’, meaning fabric. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s focus on the origin of the drape cut itself. It was invented by Dutchman Frederick Scholte, one of the true legends of Savile Row and one of the visionaries behind one of the world’s most famous tailoring houses in Anderson & Sheppard. The drape cut is characterised by a distinctive fullness (‘too much fabric’, so to speak; hence the name) through the chest and the shoulder blades. Generally, this will be combined with a very narrow cut through the waist and an oversized skirt to accentuate the large chest, and an extended shoulder-line. The goal is a looser, more comfortable cut with an athletic and traditionally masculine look.

While this might all not sound so dramatic, it was a huge break with the conventions of the time, given that most tailoring houses at the time were focused on a more military cut.  In fact, if we’re allowed to be controversial, we’d even suggest that the historical British drape style was an exaggerated reaction to military tailoring and looks a bit too sculptural and affected for today’s eyes.

NB: We suspect that Theophil Mogg (Maximilian’s great-grandfather and a military tailor himself) is smiling down on us after reading that.

Classic British Drape – note the fullness of the chest, the high, slim waist, and the extreme extended shoulders.

London Lounge

The London lounge (or London cut) is a modern take on the traditional drape cut. It features less fullness in the chest area (note the vertical line in the outer region of the chest, where chest meets sleeve), a less extended shoulder line, and a lower button stance. To our eyes, this silhouette appears more elegant, contemporary, and less affected. However, that is simply a matter of personal taste. If you prefer a more sculptural look, go for it.

London Cut – note the lower button stance, slimmer waist, and fullness in the outer chest area.

Deco Drape (may the sartorial Gods forgive us: #smexydecodrape)

Deco Drape is what we call our house style here at Maximilian Mogg. The Deco Drape is a mix of various influences. The back is cut close, in the military style, while the front is more similar to the London lounge with some art déco-inspired detailing. Our shoulder is slightly extended, the chest has some fullness to it, our low button stance stretches the silhouette, and our skirt is less flared. In design, it is not necessarily about doing something entirely new, but rather to interpret the available forms in a way that works for you.

NB: We would like to clarify that we are not suggesting that our house style is somehow objectively superior to the others listed above. It is simply our personal take on how a suit should look.

#smexydecodrape- note the slim (never tight!) waist, low button stance, lightly flared skirt, extended shoulder line, and touch of fullness through the chest

Additional information

Firstly, shirts and suits have always been designed together. A jacket with more drape allows for a shirt with equal fullness through the chest. As the trend has gone towards more tight-fitting suits, tight-fitting shirts have become the norm. However, we’d recommend trying slightly looser-fitting shirts in connection with drape cut suits. They are more comfortable and often more elegant. Secondly, our house style is, of course, simply a guideline. It will not be to everyone’s liking and it will not work in the same manner for every customer. We take our customers’ wishes and our experience into account to always make a garment that works for the customer. MM/DC