The double breasted suit commands attention in any room. Its nautical origins date back to the early 19th century, where it was part of the naval officers’ uniform, symbolizing authority and distinction. Over the years, it transitioned into the realm of civilian dress, becoming a staple for the well-dressed man. In the roaring 1920s, it became a beacon of the high life, and by the mid-20th century, it was synonymous with the golden age of Hollywood glamour. Today, it has been embraced by fashion-forward individuals, proving that true style is indeed timeless. This blog will delve into the intricacies of the double breasted suit, guiding the modern man on how to incorporate this classic piece into his wardrobe with a contemporary twist.
Understanding the Double Breasted Suit
Defining the Double Breasted Suit
A double breasted suit is characterized by its extra fabric that folds over from left to right, fastened with two parallel rows of buttons. This design not only provides an additional layer of fabric to shield against the wind but also offers a unique, symmetrical aesthetic.
The peak lapels of a double breasted suit are more pronounced than those on single-breasted suits, designed to draw the eye upward, enhancing the suit’s powerful silhouette. The six-button layout is the most traditional, with only the middle or top buttons meant to be fastened. The tailored fit, nipping in at the waist, creates a flattering profile that accentuates the chest and shoulders.
Variations and Styles
While the 6×2 arrangement is classic, the 4×2 provides a slightly less formal look, and the rare 1×6, often seen in avant-garde fashion, offers a modern, streamlined appearance. The double breasted suit also comes in a variety of cuts, from the traditional full-cut to the more contemporary slim-fit design.
When to Wear a Double Breasted Suit
The double breasted suit is a natural choice for formal events. Its grandeur and elegance make it perfect for a wedding suit, especially in classic colors like midnight blue or charcoal grey. For black-tie events, a double breasted tuxedo is a sophisticated alternative to the standard single-breasted style.
In the corporate world, a double breasted suit sets a tone of assertiveness and professionalism. It’s a power suit, ideal for those moments when you need to make a strong impression, such as high-level meetings or corporate presentations.
The double breasted suit doesn’t always have to be buttoned up. For a smart-casual look, try wearing the jacket open over a fine-gauge turtleneck, or pair it with a crisp t-shirt and loafers for a relaxed yet refined ensemble.
How to Choose the Right Double Breasted Suit
Finding the Perfect Fit
The silhouette of a double breasted suit is paramount. The shoulders must be precise; neither too wide nor too narrow. The jacket should close comfortably without pulling across the chest or stomach, and the sleeves should end just above the hinge of the wrist, allowing a sliver of shirt cuff to show.
Selecting the Right Fabric and Color
Wool is the fabric of choice for its versatility and comfort across seasons. For a timeless look, navy, grey, and dark green are fail-safe options. For those looking to make more of a statement, consider a subtle pattern like a windowpane check or a bold chalk stripe.
Custom-Tailored vs. Off-the-Rack
An off-the-rack double breasted suit can be a good starting point, but for the best fit, nothing compares to a custom-tailored suit. Bespoke tailoring allows for personalization and adjustments in all the right places, ensuring the suit complements your body shape perfectly.
Styling Tips for the Double Breasted Suit
The double breasted suit is inherently stylish, but the way you style it can make a world of difference. Here are some tips to ensure you look your best:
Shirt and Tie Combinations
The shirt you choose sets the stage for your entire look. A well-pressed, crisp white shirt is a foolproof option, but don’t shy away from pale blues or pinstripes for a dash of personality. When selecting a tie, consider the lapel width and the suit’s pattern. A wider lapel calls for a broader tie with a substantial knot, such as a full Windsor. If your suit is patterned, a solid tie can provide balance, while a patterned tie can add depth if your suit is a solid color.
The Role of Accessories
Accessories are the supporting actors in the story of your suit. A pocket square adds a pop of color and sophistication. Cufflinks speak to attention to detail, and a tasteful watch is both functional and stylish. Remember, the key is coordination, not matching; your accessories should complement, not directly mirror, your suit.
Footwear to Complement the Look
The right shoes can anchor your suit and tie the look together. For a classic approach, polished Oxfords are a perfect match. If you’re aiming for a more contemporary or relaxed vibe, consider brogues, monk straps, or even high-quality loafers. The color should harmonize with your suit; black is traditional, but browns and burgundies can offer a modern twist.
The Modern Twist: Contemporary Takes on the Double Breasted Suit
The double breasted suit has been reinterpreted by modern designers to fit the zeitgeist of the 21st century while maintaining its classic roots.
Designers Reimagining the Classic
Contemporary designers have played with the cut, fabric, and patterns of the double breasted suit to bring it into the modern era. Slimmer fits, softer shoulders, and relaxed materials like lightweight wools and linens are now common. Some have even introduced double breasted suit jackets designed to be worn without a tie for a more casual look.
The Influence of Celebrity Style
Celebrities often set the trend for how classic pieces are worn. Style icons like David Beckham, Ryan Gosling, and Timothée Chalamet have all put their spin on the double breasted suit, showing it can be both a red carpet staple and a street style star. Observing their choices can provide inspiration for how to wear the suit in new and exciting ways.
Integrating Modern Trends with Traditional Design
Today’s double breasted suits often feature updated elements like patch pockets, unstructured designs, and bold color choices. These suits are less about boardroom formality and more about personal expression. They can be broken down into separates, with the jacket and trousers worn independently for a variety of looks.
Care and Maintenance of Your Double Breasted Suit
A double breasted suit is an investment, and like any investment, it requires proper care to maintain its value.
Proper Storage and Handling
Always use a wide, contoured hanger for your suit jacket to preserve its shape. The trousers should be hung by the cuffs or draped over a trouser bar to avoid creases. Cover your suit with a breathable garment bag to protect it from dust and moths.
Cleaning and Pressing
Frequent dry cleaning can shorten the life of your suit, so only clean it when necessary. Use a quality steamer to remove wrinkles at home, and if an iron is a must, use it with a pressing cloth to avoid shine. Always press on the reverse side of the fabric.
When to Bring It to a Professional
For alterations or repairs, seek out a tailor who specializes in menswear. They’ll understand the construction of your suit and how to adjust it without compromising its integrity.
The double breasted suit is not just a piece of clothing; it’s a statement. It’s an emblem of a man who knows his style and isn’t afraid to show it. In a world where casual wear has become the norm, choosing to wear a double breasted suit is an act of sartorial defiance, a nod to the gentlemen of the past, and a commitment to carry their legacy into the future. Whether you’re dressing for a formal event, a business meeting, or a casual outing, the double breasted suit offers versatility, elegance, and a touch of drama. Embrace it, and let it transform not just how you look, but how you feel.
Remember, fashion fades, but style is eternal. The double breasted suit has stood the test of time and continues to thrive. It’s more than just a trend; it’s a timeless piece that will remain an essential part of the modern man’s wardrobe. Wear it with confidence, and wear it with pride.