Next up in our series, we will be discussing men’s double-breasted suits and what you need to know about them. The history of this suit style has a rather interesting twist. This suit style gets its look from pea coats or reefer coats used by both the British and American Navy’s as far back as the mid-1800s. It then evolved into use as a sporting jacket after the turn of the 20th century. It was considered to be a casual garment. So casual in fact that many firms banned their employees from wearing them to work.
The Duke of Windsor started donning the double-breasted suit to his official public outings. This caused quite an uproar as this was viewed as being in poor taste. The style then gained popularity as a more formal garment. Design changes like larger lapels, longer jacket length, buttons made from bone, and finer fabrics were introduced.
By the mid-1930s double-breasted suits had lost their casual label and were considered to be a solid business formal look. They were all the rage among big money businessmen, bankers, and the movers and shakers like Al Capone. By the mid-1980s, double-breasted suits had passed their heyday and were in fashion decline. They were relegated to old businessmen and aging mafia bosses.
The good news is double-breasted suits are making a revival because everything old is new again. In 2016 double-breasted suits started their comeback tour and haven’t lost any steam. Top menswear designers have made it the darling of the runways with an updated modern flair for today’s gentleman. So let’s get to the basics of this versatile garment.
Double breasted suits project alpha-male confidence because they give you a powerful, athletic, hourglass figure. Proper fit is the number one thing to remember when wearing a double-breasted jacket. Otherwise, the jacket looks like it is wearing you – not the most flattering of looks for any man. The same rules apply to the double-breasted jacket as they do to any other suit jacket regarding fit.
The shoulders of the jacket should hug your shoulders comfortably. There should be no gaps in the collar of the jacket. Additionally, there should be no bunching or stretching of the material when you bend your arms. You should comfortably be able to place your hand into the inside pocket without any gaps or pulling on the jacket.
Double-breasted suit jackets were traditionally a bit longer to accommodate the larger lapels and more complicated button layout. They could be a bit boxy and made you look like a gangster from the past than a modern day gentleman. Although today’s design trends have made adjustments to the look and created a much sleeker silhouette. It’s leaner and more fashion-forward design has still kept it’s elegantly powerful and masculine qualities. All while stripping out all the unnecessary bulk of suits past.
There are a few types of button layouts on double-breasted suits. First, we have what is referred to as the 6 x 2 layout. This consists of two rows of buttons with three in each row. It is called the 6 x 2 because only two of the buttons can be fastened on the jacket. The second is the 4 x 2, it is the same as the 6 x 2 only minus two buttons. The 2 x 2 layout is, well you get the idea here. This style has recently been seen on the runway on the latest offerings from top designers.
No matter how many buttons the jacket has, you always keep the bottom one undone, with the inner anchor button fastened so the jacket will lay flat. You always keep your jacket buttoned whether sitting or standing.
Make sure that the jacket comes down no further than just to the crotch line of your trousers at the longest or to the middle of the zipper at its shortest point. The jacket should lay flat around the hip area if the side vents are pulled open than the jacket is too small. Too small of a jacket is just as bad as one that is too big. The double-breasted jacket doesn’t always need to be paired with the matching suit pants. You can break the suit up into separates if you don’t feel like wearing the set for a more casual look.
Since this is the modern age of gentlemen’s fashion, the old stuffy rules that your father and grandfather adhered to no longer apply. Want to wear that jacket without a tie and with athletic shoes for a casual look? Go for it. Want to jazz it up with a bold colored dress shirt and patterned accessories like a matching tie and pocket square? There is nothing stopping you.
Of course, you can play it safe and go old school, you can do that too. Try pairing your suit with a classic white dress shirt, conservative necktie and standard black oxfords. This look is commonplace in many establishments like banks or law offices and for business meetings. Wearing double-breasted suits for weddings and formal affairs is still a classy move. It is sure to get you noticed either way you choose to wear it.
Just keep in mind that the double-breasted jacket is a statement piece in itself. You don’t need a large pattern or a flashy material for this suit. Keeping your accessories simple and to a minimum. This will help keep you looking sharp and get you noticed for the right reasons. When worn to more formal occasions, avoid wearing a watch with your French cuff shirt and cufflinks. This creates more going on at your wrist than needs be.
With the wide and varied selection available today in this suit style, adding your own personal flare won’t be difficult. If you opt to wear a tie with this look, make it flashy, go all in. Work your inner alpha male-ness for all it’s worth. If you want to go tie-less, try a colorful pocket square to keep the look fresh and on point.
Now that we have the basics out of the way, let’s move on to when and where you sport a double-breasted suit jacket. Anywhere that you can wear a single breasted suit jacket is appropriate for a double-breasted suit jacket. Wear it to the office, to dinner, a wedding or the dentist, don’t be shy. If you are bold enough to undertake the look of a double-breasted suit then you should be bold enough to wear it wherever you want to. There are no longer any hard and fast rules where this look is not accepted.