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May 5, 2014

Double-Breasted Suits -- YEA or NAY?



Friends, what do you think of double-breasted suits?   

Only for tall men?  Only for thin men?  Only for rich men?



Not that I follow fashion closely, but I do sense that the double-breasted suit is enjoying a renewed popularity, at least among the crowd that wears suits.  I think the 1920's silhouette, with the lapels crossing high on the chest, the armholes high, and the overall cut extremely lean, is very becoming.



In the 1930's and 40's, the cut of all men's suits grew fuller.  The lapels were wider, the shoulders broader, and you see more of the shirt and tie.  These are small details, but in men's tailoring, those small details make a big difference.  And these small details make me like the look a little less.









I just won vintage Butterick 5384, below, on eBay.  As you can see, it includes a double-breasted jacket.  The jacket is less boxy than the 1940's jacket above left, but not very different overall.



As I've mentioned, there's also this Thirties summer suit for Cathy in my sewing cue.



I wanted to make myself a casual cotton suit this month and I'm wondering if I should give double-breasted a go.  When you think about it, the double-breasted suit jacket has a very similar silhouette to that of the men's peacoat I made this last winter.





If I have one misgiving about this look, it's that double-breasted suits read more formal.  And unbuttoned, the jacket can look ungainly, as opposed to sporty, like a single-breasted blazer worn open does.  It seems less versatile.

There's a reason you usually see double-breasted jackets buttoned, and paired with dress shirts and ties.



So what do you think?  Do you like the look or is it just too costumey and/or formal-stuffy-snobby? Do you, or someone you know, wear double-breasted suits (or suit jackets)?

Double-breasted suits -- YEA or NAY?



48 comments:

  1. Ha! I just picked up that same Butterick pattern a few weeks ago! I have a client that wants it made in a velvet stripe! Should be fun. It will be the first double breasted one I make....he's a lean guy, built kinda like you. I think it will be fabulous! Go for it!!

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    1. Oh, Marcia, I'd love to hear how it went for you.

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    2. If you want please post photographs of it.

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  2. Yea... conditionally. I think on a slim man, it's a becoming look, but as you say, not worn open and near impossible to dress down. I think it would be schnazzy on you!

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  3. I say go for it - the double breasted is due a revival and you are the man to do it!

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  4. Many years ago when my husband was younger and thinner he had a very nice double breasted suit. That is when he buttoned it. It looked sloppy unbuttoned and he never wanted to button it. A summer suit, I'd want to wear it unbuttoned.

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    1. You make an excellent point, Nancy.

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  5. I think they can be a great look for men (especially if the jacket has waist shaping...don't like the boxy jacket look).

    It's a very smart look, although I agree that the jacket has to stay buttoned. ~ksp

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  6. Only on a skinny man, and only buttoned.

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  7. Make TWO! A double-breasted and a single-breasted so your mood, the weather, the event determines which you wear. You'll look great in either. I think the double-breasted is much more formal – you'll find a way to make it your own. Wonder what it would look like with no shirt? Both jackets would look good with those high waisted trousers. A great summer look either way.
    Barbara

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  8. I first noticed the return of the double breasted suit on Princes William and Harry. They both wear it well. I had heard it also referred to as a double bosomed jacket on a British sit-com. I'm not ready for the return of the DB suit yet. I would be if I were trendy or fashion forward. I'm thinking it would look dated on me. I am looking forward to following what will come from your creative mind.

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  9. Love double breasted suits, and wear them a lot....but always buttoned.
    I'm concerned about Cathy in that suit. She may look like a man. Cathy doesn't wear much makeup, no false eyelashes, has short hair...not sure even a chiffon scarf would be enough to make it look feminine rather than effiminate.

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    1. Cathy is a modern day Helen Lawson; there's a double breasted pantsuit in her future, baby, so get out of her way.

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    2. I think Cathy has MUCH more class than Helen Lawson !

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  10. Hate double breasted suits, I don't know why. Just don't like the look. I think single breasted suits flatter men much better. Coats are different, a double breasted coat looks ok.

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  11. Just google " casual double breasted suits" and you'll see a plethora of nice options. I initially thought Double Breasted = Formal, as you mentioned, but I was happily surprised.

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  12. I go to a lot of vintage events and I've got to say there's something about a double breasted suit that makes my heart beat quicker! maybe your right maybe its because there for the rich and famous! x

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  13. If you have a thin body, go for it. But you'll have to always have it buttoned to make it hang right. They used to be in style. Then not. Now back. So hold onto it and it will be useful again.

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  14. On a thin man, and well fitted. I'm not loving the look right now (reminds me a bit of the unfashionably daggy old suit belonging to my father-in-law that my husband used to wear when we were dating many moons ago). But having said that, short hemlines and other features have come back which I do love, so I am getting a little whif of something happening with this in the future too...

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  15. A double breasted suit from something extremely light weight, even seersucker could have an ironic chic....

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  16. To be honest: in our house ONLY 'double'.
    Reason being: short/stubby built and looking utterly boring/stupid in a Single.
    Even I as female have to confess: Single - for mho - ONLY look good on tall slim men, which 'shine' even without a suit!
    And the - mho - stupid sentence, of: "Doubles make you look fat" is utterly wrong since at least they pretend some 'sportiness' which isn't always given in 'solid built'
    either ;-).
    The only thing which I find MISERABLE: the fashion-dictatorship = for yeeeears you might not get ONE 'Double' in average shops because 'it was decided' and one has to resort to either custom- or self-made or to those very thin and and hard to find 'very traditional/classic shops'.

    YOU yourself shouldn't have a problem with either model, since you're already a 'shiner' by figure (and probably 'bowl' over even more once you open your mouth).

    LG, Gerlinde

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  17. Well, as a short, rounder sort of person, I know that double-breasted is right out for me, but when well-cut and fitted correctly, the look works well on the taller and thinner among us. The problem right now is that they've been kind of downmarket so long that they really have to be Savile-Row correct to read as elegant rather than car salesman.

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  18. Due to the added bulk and boxier silhouette, length is tricky; it can easily look too long or too short depending on other elements.

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  19. Yes, in a nice Italian wool. But it needs to be a 40s look with pants with pleats. It does require some attitude nowadays.

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  20. Well, as my dear old dad used to say, "It's all in the fit in the shoulders." I don't think it's height - after all, Fred Astaire was only 5'8", but he was very thin. I think from a fit standpoint, DB only works if it's fitted really well - and to me that means that it hangs from the shoulders and is NOT hugging the waist or hips. Even Cary Grant in that photo above looks as if the suit coat is not fitting him well and although he was not a fat guy in the least, he WAS athletically built and was certainly not built along the same lines as Fred Astaire. My two cents.

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  21. While you have the svelte panache to carry it off and prolly look very fetching.It contradicts your desire for something casual cotton, but life is like that. Cathy on the other hand could give us retro Dietrich in DB. I say make what speaks to you and wear it like you do.. damn good

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  22. Love it! Since you just showed us your boxers last week, I think you can rock anything :)

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  23. The first photo, the black one, is awesome - with the narrow lapels. Seems so much more modern than the wider lapels. It also seems to make it less formal somehow. Made up in a nice linen would be great and you would rock it. My husband has a DB suit and he isn't skinny (although he is tall) and I think he looks great in it so I don't think width or height necessarily play into how it looks. As others have said, I think the fit determines that more than anything. I do like the more fitted look, rather than the boxier ones.

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  24. Some like it hot.
    Wowza!
    Love Marilyn's double breasted dress.

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  25. I love double breasted jackets and not just on tall, lean men. My husband is 5'6" or thereabouts (just a smidge taller than me) and he is definitely not slim (doing judo plus his genetics means he's solid build), but he looks amazing in a double breasted suit jacket. I actually prefer him in that style to single breasted.

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  26. for sure you have the build and style to carry it off, but I can only echo the comments about needing to stay buttoned up.I was thrilled to find a gorgeous Hartnell tweed jacket in a thrift shop, but sadly rarely wear it because it only looks good buttoned up

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  27. I like them, but they have to buttoned up, or the lines are all just lost!

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  28. I never considered them to be more formal, just nicer to look at. The only downside, in my opinion, they just don't look as becoming when unbuttoned. Other than that, I'd prefer double-breasted any time.
    And you can wear them with jeans, and without a tie, I'd say.

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    1. I agree that a db suit doesn't look very good when unbuttoned. That point, plus the double layers of fabric might not make it a good choice for a "cool" summer jacket, even if it were made of cotton or linen. I know that I would expire in a jacket that I couldn't unbutton during the summer months. Of course, it might make me drop a few pounds and make me thinner, too! ;-)

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    2. Hmmm, mine can't even wear them buttoned up at times due to weight fluctuations from one use to another (= not every day) YET: it STILL looks wayyy better on this 'Stubby' of guy than a SB.
      I have to admit: he HAS dominant shoulders (and 'matching boulder of a head' to support them ;-) ! ) ; the fit THERE makes or brakes it.

      LG, Gerlinde


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  29. The double-breasted suit is the cut of choice for a certain type of English (not Welsh or Scottish!) man. As so many here point out, it needs to be fastened to hang properly, so it suits that (literally) "buttoned-up" perspective embodied by someone like Prince Charles and male royal wannabes . As a result, I can't help but think of it as a bit of British aristo-drag. Which I guess means it's exactly the right time for someone (that's you Peter Lappin) to reclaim it and subvert it.

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  30. Nay. they only look good when buttoned. Having said that, virtually all men look good in a well-fitting suit. Anne-Marie

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  31. I don't think double breasted when I think of something summery. Also I think you need decent square shoulders to wear it properly, therfore I think they tend to suit someone a bit stockier than you.
    I agree with whoever said it's different with coats.

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  32. As far as wearing it unbuttoned, the double-breasted Armani sack suit looks great unbuttoned. I was looking for an image of one from the late 80's or early 90's, but apparently I did not have to go back that far, since they are still making them: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/219057969348099209/

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  33. The only opinion I have is that it will need to be buttoned up. I have seen them on some men and they look good and their bodies suit that type of suit, but they always had it buttoned up.

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  34. It does seem very formal - but snazzy! You're lean enough to wear it well. I think it's the lapels on the pattern that are the danger zone for the costume-y look. BTW, thanks for "letting it slip" that the mint paisley is from Mood - I've been yearning for it since I saw it here on MPB and I just ordered some for me! ::::blissful sigh:::

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  35. I really like the double breasted jacket. It is also a good look on women, such as 1940s wedding suits.

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  36. Being admirably slender you could carry off a double breasted jacket but for goodness sake wear it fastened, my only objection to double breasted is the tendency of potbellied men to wear them unbuttoned, and looking as if they are sporting Maternity wear for men. Cary Grant looked great in everything, don't you think?

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  37. Love the double breasted, but only if it's buttoned. It loses all it's appeal if unbuttoned. So for me that makes it a more formal style. <3 the 20s cut

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  38. David Letterman wore double-breasted for years and years and still does sometimes. I love the look and prefer it -- until it's unbuttoned. Even Dave looked... undone. Don't know how to have it both ways, though. Maybe something interesting for the inside panel that is meant to show when unbuttoned? Another use for lace?

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  39. Double breasted suits look great, but for summer wouldn't it be more comfortable to use the single breasted style? The definition of well dressed is "appropriate and comfortable" imho--so many air conditioners are being turned warmer to save electricity. Also, modern living is not kind to bulky clothes. A slimmer garment works better just moving around the city and getting in and out of vehicles of all kinds.

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