The double-breasted suit is back with a vengeance and we’re loving every minute of it. Once a staple in every man’s suited wardrobe, the double-breasted suit has become a rather elusive creature of sartorial splendor, only recognizable by the extra gust of wind caused by all the sudden double takes. Today, the double-breasted suit has been modernized and is on the rise once again— it’s leaner than before but just as masculine, powerful and elegant as ever. So for those who wish to join the movement, read on.

Innately dressier than its single-breasted counterpart, the DB suit has often been associated with larger than life characters from 40’s mobsters to cocky 80’s investment bankers whose beefy suits were only matched by their giant egos. That was then and this is now. Don’t concern yourself with where the DB suit has been. Rather, focus on where it’s about to take you – to new heights of stylistic expression. After we’re done showing you the DB suit’s fresh new image, you’ll be turning this signature piece into a wardrobe staple in no time.

How Should the Modern Double-breasted Suit Fit?

The old school DB suit can be characterized by a boxier silhouette, looser drape, extra length and incredibly wide lapels. The modern DB suit has slimmed and trimmed its way to earning a spot in your heart and your closet.

As far as the jacket goes, the modern DB suit jacket should be cut close to the torso, with higher armholes, trim sleeves and natural shoulders that don’t create any extra bulk. As for the trousers, the traditional DB suit were pleated and had cuffs – this “heavier” look was needed to balance out a heftier jacket. Given that the modern DB suit jacket has been streamlined, the trousers can be too, so it’s okay to go sans pleats and cuffs. The end result is one of pure beauty; the DB suit has kept its signature sense of elegance and class but has been stripped down to a modern minimalism.

 

When is it Appropriate to Wear a Double-breasted Suit? 

We know you’re thinking, “That’s cool Black Lapel, but come on, when would I really ever wear a DB suit?” It’s true that unless you’re a regular on the set of Boardwalk Empire, you probably shouldn’t be wearing a double-breasted suit every single day. So when is it appropriate? Utility-wise, a double-breasted suit can work anytime you would wear a single-breasted suit. Practically speaking, given its memorable nature, you should probably save it for the days where you want to make a bit more of a statement.

What does that mean? It means that you probably shouldn’t wear a double-breasted suit to a work interview (unless you want to work at Black Lapel). But can you wear a double-breasted suit to a regular day at the office? Absolutely, but it probably shouldn’t be your “now I’m stylish” coming out party or else you’ll just get clowned on. Think about it like this – if by now, having become a regular reader of The Compass, you’ve already established yourself as the “I dress damn well because I want to” guy in the office, mixing the double-breasted suit into your line up should be cake.

But if you’re going to a wedding or dressy event / night out, definitely put this bad boy on. It not only shows sartorial mastery, but true self-confidence in your daring departure from the norm. Now you will get compliments, so make sure you have some witty responses ready and not something to the extent of “I like my suits like I like my women – double-breasted”.

Get to Know the Buttons: 6×2 and 4×2

 

The 6×2 button configuration is called “6×2” because it has 6 buttons and only 2 of them can be fastened. It’s the bread-and-butter, can’t-go-wrong of double-breasted suiting styles. If this is your first double-breasted suit, we recommend going with this one. Wearing the 6×2 is simple—just fasten the middle button, while leaving the bottom button undone. Keep your DB suit buttoned while standing or sitting.

There’s a button on the inside called the “anchor button” that should also be fastened at all times.

The 4×2 is another example of a popular double-breasted button configuration. With the 4×2, you’ll have 4 buttons with only 2 of which can be fastened. You should fasten only the top button (plus the inside “anchor” button) as you would with a 6×2 suit.

 

Completing the Outfit / Pulling off the look

There are two divergent approaches for wearing a double-breasted suit:

  1. Let the suit do the talking: A double-breasted suit is a statement on its own, so when wearing one for dressier occasions (work, weddings, etc.), you can keep your shirt / tie combination relatively conservative with solid colors or basic patterns.
  2. Double down: On the other hand, since you’ve already crossed the Rubicon of sartorial safety, go big or go home. So if the occasion allows for it, continue the theme of confidence with bold colors and patterns for your shirt, tie, pocket square and even socks because if there’s any suit that can handle it, it’s the one with two breasts.

As is the case with all clothing, the proverbial saying of wearing your clothing and not letting it wear you is especially applicable when it comes to the eye-catching double-breasted suit. The question then is not whether you’ll be drawing attention in one, but what you do with all that attention. Let the others turn their heads because there’s no looking back for you.

 

You guessed it. Make some room in your closet because Black Lapel is about to launch its double-breasted suit collection. We’ll be offering 6×2 and 4×2 button double-breasted options on any of our custom suits. Got questions? Leave a comment below or email us at concierge@blacklapel.com!

(Image Credits: Albert Cheung, Frank Wang for Black Lapel, Anchor Button Photograph by Kai Z Feng for GQ)