Like cricket, football and The Beatles, the double breasted suit is one of Britain’s greatest exports.
Out of fashion for a while, the look has come back with a vengeance with a slimmer, modern cut for the 21st century. Here we tell you everything you need to know about how to wear this most timeless of garments.
The double breasted jacket came into existence at the end of the 19th century in England when a resourceful London tailor shortened the Victorian frock coat at the waist.
It soon became the coat of choice for society gentlemen wanting to maximize their comfort and project an aristocratic, masculine appearance.
The 21st Century Double Breasted Suit
Today, young men like Dave Franco and Douglas Booth have popularized a more sharply tailored, double breasted look, often pairing their jackets with narrow trousers and unusual cloth patterns.
Franco caused a big stir this April when he showed up at the Broadway premiere of Of Mice and Men in a double-breasted suit with very narrow trousers and a pale blue shirt (scroll to the bottom of the page for an image).
An even more unusual update of the double breasted suit can be seen in the plaid design of Douglas Booth’s Alexander McQueen suit below.
Tips on how to style it
If I was writing this guide a couple of decades ago, I might advise you to wear your double breasted suit with trouser pleats and turned-up trouser cuffs to balance the largeness of your top half with an equally prodigious bottom half.
Today, this isn’t the way to go.
If you’re thinking about buying a double breasted suit (and, honestly, if you have your base wardrobe down, you should really think about owning at least one), style it with a slim fit, flat-fronted trousers and narrow ankles.
As long as your waist is tailored and you leave your bottom button unbuttoned (a must when it comes to the double breasted suit), you’ll create an attractive silhouette.
Essential tips for wearing one well
Get it tailored. The double breasted jacket can look horrendous if it doesn’t fit! You also don’t have to be tall and slim to carry it off: anyone can wear one if it’s tailored.
Some people claim that the look suits stockier men better than tall men (something to do with the broadness of the double breasted look), but I think the modern, slim update of the suit is as acceptable for tall, slender men as anybody else.
Keep your buttons, apart from the bottom one, fastened when you’re standing. A double breasted jacket will hang open less flatteringly than a single breasted jacket.
If you’re a bit apprehensive about the extra attention you might receive when wearing a double breasted suit, style it with a neutral colour like dark navy.
How many buttons should I get?
A 6 x 2 jacket is the standard design and probably the best look to start out with. It means that the jacket has 6 buttons, 2 of which can be fastened. This style has gravitas, elegance and is the real deal.
On Dave Franco’s jacket above, you can see an example of 4 x 2, a style that’s becoming increasingly popular today. If you’re looking for a tailored waist and narrow trousers, this is probably the style to go for because it’s more minimalist.
The less common 6 x 3 style first appeared on military uniforms but was adapted to the lounge suit in the 1960s. Iconic actor and style legend Steve McQueen wore this look often.
Whatever button configuration you go for, with the help of A Suit That Fits‘ style advisors and tailors, I know you’ll look great.