How should a double-breasted suit fit? When is it appropriate to wear one? And how should you style it? You’ll find the full lowdown in this in-depth guide to double-breasted suits.
While the finer details of single-breasted suits – e.g. lapels, jacket length, the number of buttons, etc. – tend to change over time according to current trends, the basic single-breasted design is a fashion perennial that never goes out of style.
Double-breasted suits, on the other hand, tend to come into fashion for a decade or two before wandering off into the wilderness for an equal length of time. Right now, though, double-breasted suits are very definitely back in style. And if the past is anything to go by, they will remain so for at least another decade or so to come. This very definitely makes 2022 the right moment to get in on the double-breasted act.
You may fully know your way around a single-breasted suit now, but do you remember getting your first one? It likely all seemed like foreign territory back then. And if you’ve never worn a double-breasted suit before, you might now be feeling similarly unsure about taking the first steps in this sartorial direction.
Thinking of branching out into double-breasted territory, but uncertain how a double-breasted suit should fit, or when to wear one? No worries, in this guide we explain everything you need to know about double-breasted suits.
How to Wear a Double Breasted Suit?
Most people consider the double-breasted suit to be the epitome of masculine elegance. Just one stop short of the tuxedo in terms of formality.
Funnily enough, though, while the DB suit is certainly is a very elegant and dignified garment, it was once considered much less formal than a single-breasted suit.
Single-breasted jackets evolved from the British gentry’s “sportswear” (i.e. clothes for riding horses when hunting, not what we generally mean by the term sportswear today). These aristocratic beginnings meant that the single-breasted jacket or blazer has long been looked on as relatively formal clothing.
Meanwhile, the double-breasted jacket has its origins in the reefer jacket or peacoat of European navies. And while these jackets were reserved for officers and petty officers, they were nonetheless items of workwear to be worn while on deck. As a result of these more humble workaday beginnings, for a long time, double-breasted jackets were considered too informal to be worn in a white-collar professional setting.
That was all a very long time ago though. And since then things have changed drastically. Indeed, the double-breasted suit is now considered more formal than a single-breasted one, and most people associate the DB look with the slick Wolf of Wall Street city traders of the 1980s. Hardly down-at-heel slobs in the dressing stakes.
A double-breasted suit can certainly be worn in financial circles and other office settings today. But it’s also appropriate to wear a DB jacket for numerous other occasions, too – from job interviews to weddings, and even for more casual social events. It all depends on how you style it.
We’ll get to styling in a minute. First, though, let’s look at the basics: just how should a double-breasted suit fit the wearer?
This is How a Double Breasted Suit Should Fit
If you’re already familiar with the correct fit of a single-breasted suit, much of that knowledge will serve you well here. There are a few unique points to consider with a DB suit though, and it’s always good to review those you already know anyway. So let’s break down the most important parts of the double-breasted suit one by one, starting at the bottom and working our way up.
Just a few years ago you would have been well advised to go for slim pants as part of your double-breasted suit. But fashions have shifted recently, and the trend is increasingly moving towards a looser, less-fitted silhouette.
To be clear, you don’t need to go all-out baggy. But the skin-tight, cropped-ankle look that was so popular for the last decade is well and truly over now.
Of course, not everyone wants their wardrobe to be overly dictated by fashion. And we’re still in something of a transitional stage anyway. So you can certainly get away with a moderately slim fit if that’s more your style. Just keep in mind, though, that if current trends continue in the same direction, you might not feel so comfortable with super slim pants in a couple of years' time.
The safest bet for those seeking longevity, then, is to go for a more classic cut. Neither too skinny nor excessively wide.
As is often the case when pants become looser, pleats have also come back in vogue. A couple of pleats will certainly make for an elegant yet comfortable fit. But nobody will look down on you today for sticking to flat-front pants if you prefer. Similarly, cuffed hems are something you can either take or leave according to personal taste.