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The Compass  /  Style  /  Embrace The Double-Breasted Suit Because It’s Never Going Out of Style

Embrace The Double-Breasted Suit Because It’s Never Going Out of Style

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5 How To Wear Double-Breasted Suits Like A Street Style Icon

Double-breasted suits. Perhaps you’ve seen them in Tommy Ton’s  pictures from Pitti Uomo or on some stylish guy featured on The Sartorialist and thought, “those are cool but can I pull that look off?”Or perhaps you’ve seen a poorly fitting one and thought, “is it possible to get one that doesn’t look all boxy?”

Well, we answered the second question a while back when we first introduced Black Lapel made-to-measure double-breasted suits. To answer the first question, scroll down…

Are you ready for a double-breasted suit?

We love our double-breasted suits here at Black Lapel, but we know their place. If we were going to be stranded on a particularly stylish desert island and could only pick one suit to keep, it wouldn’t be double-breasted.

Double-breasted suits are not first suits. We don’t recommend them as starter suits. The foundation of your wardrobe is still the tried and true single-breasted suit that can go from a job interview to a funeral to just about any other situation where a suit is necessary. But you don’t have to dig too deep into our closets to find some double-breasted suits. A single-breasted suit may have been fine for the interview, but we love a double-breasted once you’ve got the job. A single-breasted suit might have been appropriate for a funeral, but for attending, say, a wedding, a double-breasted suit can be a stylish alternative.

Double-breasted suits Dos and Don’ts

Do wear it to a wedding. Unless it’s an ultra-business-ey pinstripe, a double-breasted suit is a smart move for attending a wedding. It’ll make you look as suave and sophisticated as the groom without being confused for him (very few men get married in a double-breasted suit).
Don’t wear it to a job interview. During an interview, you want the emphasis to be on you, not your style. Keep your look straightforward with a single-breasted suit.

One of the key ways to know if you’re a double-breasted suit guy is understanding your tolerance for being unique. There are different levels of uniqueness from one double-breasted suit to another, but even the most conservative suit is given a special twist when made as a double-breasted. Even in a navy blue double-breasted you’re unlikely to be walking down the street and see somebody else rocking the same thing. Still, if you wear it well, you will get lots of the right kind of attention when you’re walking down said street. Here’s how.

Choosing the right fabric for your double-breasted suit

Double-breasted suits come in just about any color and pattern combination you can imagine. (For example, any Black Lapel custom suit or blazer can be made with double-breasted.) A double-breasted suit is a strong look no matter what fabric you choose. So when considering a double-breasted suit, you can bunch fabrics into three main categories:


Strong

Double-breasted suits in these fabrics would be appropriate for most business formal settings.
Navy Blue Custom Suit, Charcoal Gray Custom Suit, Midnight Navy Pinstripe Custom Suit

Navy Blue Custom Suit

Charcoal Gray Custom Suit

Midnight Navy Pinstripe Custom Suit


Stronger

Double-breasted suits in these fabrics would be appropriate for more creative business settings.

Brown Custom Suit, Light Blue Gray Sharkskin Custom Suit, Gramercy Gray Birdseye Custom Suit


Strongest

Double-breasted suits in these fabrics are for wearing outside the office or outside the box office guys.

Gray Windowpane Shadow Check Custom Suit, Flatiron Blue Fine Check Custom Suit, Brownstone Brown Glen Plaid Custom Suit

Double-breasted suits Dos and Don’ts

Do leave it buttoned even when you’re sitting. Unlike with your single-button suits, a well-fitting double-breasted jacket will you room to sit comfortably with the jacket buttoned without putting too much strain on the buttons. The seated look is much cleaner than opening the buttons and having your suit panels jutting out in front of you while you’re sitting down.
Don’t wear it with a bulky layer underneath. Yes, it should have enough room for you to sit with the jacket buttoned, but a heavy sweater can add too much bulk to your frame and make it difficult to get comfortable in a double-breasted jacket. The extra layer of fabric helps to keep you warm so you’ll only want a thin layer underneath anyway.

Unexpected awesome
the casually styled double-breasted suit

Double-breasted suits may sound “dressed up” but they are a smart choice for a when you want a more casual vibe. Drop the tie, possibly even the dress shirt, and the double-breasted suit goes from being a dressy business suit to being a surprisingly relaxed look. There’s a rational reason this works. We mean that literally, it has to do with ratios. The two layers in the front of double-breasted suits mean that there is more suit than shirt showing when you wear them. With less space to work with, a tie can really stand out. Dropping the tie lets the shirt play a starring role.

Editor’s Picks

So, if we’ve inspired you to dip your toes into the double-breasted suits waters, then we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t also provide you with some recommendations on how to customize your double-breasted suit.

Rivington Dusk Blue Custom Double-Breasted Suit

Pictured here: The Rivington Dusk Blue Custom Double-Breasted Suit by Black Lapel

Slim fit – Double-breasted suits look best when they follow the contours of your body and avoid the boxy fits of yesteryear.

6×2 button configuration – Do you need all those buttons on a double-breasted suit? No. But we love that little bit of contrast on the front of your suit that the buttons provide.

Full lapels – You probably know that a notch lapel on a  double-breasted suit is a tailoring no-no, but did you know that a slim lapel on a double-breasted suit is considered a fashion faux-pas? Stick with a more substantial lapel to keep everything proportional.
Side vents – We love side vents on just about all of our jackets, but with a double-breasted suit we consider them pretty much mandatory. Single vents on a double-breasted suit are another fashion faux-pas and, while some like to go ventless, we prefer to give ourselves some maneuverability with side vents on a double-breasted jacket.

Straight pockets – The pockets can be piped, as they are here, or flapped. They can even, on more casual suits, be patch pockets. But the pockets ought to be straight to counterbalance the sweeping angles of the double-breasted jacket.

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24 thoughts on “Embrace The Double-Breasted Suit Because It’s Never Going Out of Style”

  1. I bought a double breasted suit at a vintage fair and after having the trousers altered I am wearing it for the first time with enthusiasm today. I am having a few issues, mainly that my tie is occasionally bunching up and I have resorted to using a tie clip by my stomach to keep this from happening. Is this a common issue or could this be a sign that I need to lose 2 inches from my waist (there is pull at the buttons when I am sat down)

    1. One of the problems with buying vintage is that it’s like buying clothes off the rack, you can only alter them so much. The tie bunching up is likely due to the lack of room. while a tie bar may solve the problem, wearing one around your stomach is definitely not something you’d want to be visible. So it keeps you in the jacket the whole time you’re wearing the suit.

      All of these problems are not problems when the suit is custom made to your measurements and fits you flawlessly, like a Black Lapel suit. We can make any of the fabrics into a double-breasted suit, so you’ve got options.

      1. whilst it is true that vintage is not perfect because it is like buying off the rack, or worse if you are buying a suit that is old enough to have been custom made for someone else, although it is nice seeing who something was made for. There are advantages such as rocking styles of suit you would never think off, I am unlikely to get such large lapels as my 70s suit and there is no way I will be able to find a new suit I would wear in the same price range (5 70s suits for £50 once, although some got sold on to a friend due to not being quite right proving your point).
        However I imagine nothing will compare to a custom made suit, one day I will save up for one.

        1. You’re right, James, there are some really cool aspects of vintage clothes. We’ll even add to your list that buying vintage is eco-friendly. When you put an old suit to use you can check the box next to “Reuse” in the three R’s (1. Reduce 2. Reuse 3. Recycle) of eco-friendliness. That’s one of the reasons why we donate all returned Black Lapel suits to charities that help equip people for work.

          You don’t have to save up much, James, just $499 will get you in a Black Lapel suit, but when you’re ready for us, we’ll be ready for you.

      2. Also just wanted to note that if I removed the jacket the tie clip was also removed, although as it appears to have fallen off at some point yesterday (being used normally) I will not be having that issue for a while

  2. I was curious as to why you don’t see double breasted waistcoats with double breasted jackets. Is it due to the waistcoat not being seen under the jacket or is there another reason?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      That’s the main reason. It’s also a little bit of a faux pas. Just think, that would be a lot of buttons hanging around your mid section. Double-breasted waistcoats and double-breasted jackets are stronger on their own and usually steal the spotlight in any outfit.

  3. Great article! I love you guys. On to business. I’ve noticed that you guys reference all body types in your posts, would it be too much to ask to have tall and slim models, short and stocky, and even overweight guys in your suits? It’s hard to believe that someone who isn’t the typical look that your models have can look half as good in your suits. Just a thought.

    1. We appreciate the sentiment, T. We’ve made great looking suits for every shape and size, but publishing photos of the guys in those suits can be a bit tricky (you’d be surprised how camera shy the average guy is) and models are built like…well…models.

      To see a collection of guys of different body types in Black Lapel, check out the Black Lapel wedding board on Pinterest.

  4. Hey Black Lapel, I´ve been reading The compass for some years now and I’ve always wanted to buy one of your suits, but my country’s government (Argentina) banned all imports, so even if i bought one, it wouldn’t have been allowed into the country. It’s a shitty government, I know. Anyways, there’s a new government now, so you’ll be hearing from me soon!
    P.S: I know this has nothing to do with the post, just wanted to share my enthusiasm!

    1. Glad to hear you’re ready for us. We eagerly await your order, Manuel.

  5. James A. Hayward says:

    Just bought a fabulous double brested suit in navy blue and it seems that they are really making a comeback.
    Thanks for the info and love the suggestions they keep the style interest going here.

    1. Nice, James. You’re right, they’re making a comeback. There was a time, believe it or not, when suit makers made 50% of their suits single- and 50% double-breasted. Those golden days of the double-breasted suit may never come back, but the good news is you can rejoice in being one of the smaller, hip crowd who knows how to wear a double-breasted suit.

  6. Hello, my name is Mark Veres and firstly, great article! I enjoy The Compass every week. Secondly, what the name of this double-breasted suit featured here as the editor’s pick? It’s pretty damn awesome.

    1. Thanks Mark. Glad to hear we’ve been helpful to you!

      To answer your question, that’s the Rivington Dusk Blue Double-Breasted Suit and it’s one of our favorites (shhhh, don’t tell our other suits).

  7. I had a BLack Lapel double breasted suit in gray glen plaid for my wedding, and it looked great. Thanks folks for the quality work.

    1. We love to hear about a wedding done well in Black Lapel.

      Now, since you’ve probably got some great pictures of yourself in that suit, why not enter our SuitCity competition and win some more stylish stuff?

      1. And by the way, you get points for being one of the few men to get married in a double-breasted suit. Good on ya.

  8. Are certain body shapes better or worse for this look? Will a larger gentleman look to “full” wearing this jacket?

    1. It’s a common misconception that double-breasted suits make a big man look bigger. Yes, there is an extra layer of fabric across the front, but if that half-inch of fabric isn’t going to make the difference between you looking trim and looking too “full”. In fact, larger guys benefit from the sweeping lines of the double-breasted lapels which give the illusion of more verticality to a man de-emphasizing the horizontal lines. The key to proportion is letting the lines of your clothes work for you and the double-breasted suit’s got plenty of diagonal and vertical lines to help you out.

  9. I think double-breasted suits epitomize the look of a gentleman. It’s one of those styles that can make you fashionable and good-looking whether you have natural looks or not.

    1. We couldn’t have said it better oursevles, Chris. That’s the beauty of these elegant suits, they work for so many different types of guys.

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