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Learn How To Wear Double-Breasted Suits

mens double breasted suits

What is a Double-Breasted Suit?

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 double-breasted 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 double-breasted 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.

what is a double breasted suit

How Should the Modern Double-breasted Suit Fit?

The old school double-breasted suit can be characterized by a boxier silhouette, looser drape, extra length and incredibly wide lapels. The modern double-breasted 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 had pleated pants with 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.

double breasted

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 double-breasted 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 lineup 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
mens double breasted suits

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 double-breasted 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.

mens double breasted suits

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.

mens double breasted suits

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 and tie combo 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)

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144 thoughts on “Learn How To Wear Double-Breasted Suits”

  1. Claire Masters says:

    Now I know that double-breasted suits aren’t meant for just any regular event but for a more special occasion like a wedding. My boyfriend’s dad gave him one for Christmas. So, we’ll look for more ways how he could style it on dressy events. https://www.mayosdiscountsuits.com/index.php?route=product/product&path=83&product_id=51

  2. Watson Ellis says:

    I felt the information provided in this blog is really valuable for people

  3. Steven Tran says:

    What would be considered more formal:
    Single-breasted suit with notched vest
    Doubl-breasted suit?

    1. Black Lapel says:


      Good question! The answer is a bit less binary than that. They’re both pretty formal, though when it comes down to it, we’d base the greater formality from the fabric and pattern. As a little rule of thumb, the more covered your upper body is, the more formal the look. So, since both the 3—piece suit (vest + single-breasted suit) and double-breasted cover the majority of the torso, they are more so formality equals. Hope this helps clear things up!

  4. Lester says:

    Can you recommend shops one can purchase good double breasted suits under £500 ?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We certainly can, Lester. Though you may know us for our editorial content here on The Compass, Black Lapel is a custom suit company. We have a large selection of suits for under £500, each of which can be made double-breasted.

      To see some examples, check out our Rivington Dusk Blue Double-Breasted Custom Suit which sells for $599 (which comes out to about £460) with free delivery and alterations (if needed). Another option is the Oyster Gray Herringbone Stripe Double-Breasted Custom Suit which also sells for $599, but you’ll have to jump on that one fast because we’re almost out of that fabric.

      Those are just two examples. Since the suits are custom made, you can choose to have any of them made with a double-breasted jacket for an additional $50 on the single-breasted suit price. Even with the extra $50, the majority of our suits could be made double-breasted for less than £500. So take a look around, we’re sure to have something you’ll like.

  5. Stefan Paula says:

    Wonderful and decent post, I found this much helpful, as to what I was exactly searching for suits. Thanks a lot for this beauty Enjoying article with me. I am appreciating it very much!

  6. Zach Gbotosho says:

    is a 6.5 inch leg opening good for a size 11 shoe size person?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      This really depends on how long you want your pants. We’d only recommend this opening if you want no break in your pants at all—a choice that’s totally yours, especially if you go custom.

  7. Nyck says:

    Can a 1990’s-vintage double-breasted suit be re-tailored into the modern double-breasted style? I have a few older, high-quality double-breasted suits in excellent condition, but the coats have very boxy cuts, pronounced shoulder lines, and low buttons, and they are quite long at the hips. Can they be saved by a good tailor, or would it be more effort than they are worth?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      You have a few options in this situation. As a fair warning, be sure you know how to choose your tailor wisely. Also, it would be good to know that any tailoring done around the shoulders will cost you a pretty penny, so we would advise you to try it with a single suit first, and if you liked the experience, then do it with the others! If you value their vintage-era uniqueness, or don’t want to spend the money on the tailoring, try going custom with one of ours!

  8. Drew says:

    I’ve been going thru my wardrobe and came across a DB suit that is probably 20 years old (rare occasion where a suit is required). It is a 6 x 2 but only has a button hole for the bottom button and the inside/anchor button, it is also a closed back jacket (no slit). Should I save or give away?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Can’t make that call, Drew, without a bit more information. Namely:

      1. How does it look on you?
      2. Is the suit in good shape (no fraying, not stained or worse for the wear in any way)?
      3. Does it has sentimental value?

      These are all important factors to consider.

      In terms of style, you’ve seen what we have to say above, so no need to rehash that. So, would we recommend wearing this suit to a business meeting? Probably not, but if you want to keep it around for old times sake, more power to you.

  9. Chris says:

    Hey there BL,

    I’m getting married in a few weeks and will be wearing a DB suit. One thing I can’t find is a guideline for open vs closed when dancing. I’ll be wearing suspenders (button, not clip, of course) so taking the jacket off at some point is no problem.

    Just wondering about during slow dances. Keep it closed, I’m guessing? I’m just wondering if that’ll seem too “stuffy”/formal/un-relaxed. Basically… is there ever a time for an open DB suit?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Great question, Chris! And we commend your style going with the DB suit for the wedding. Very sharp.

      One of the benefits of the double-breasted suit is that you don’t have to open and close it when you sit down and stand up like you do with a single-breasted jacket. You can just leave it closed all the time. We’ve seen some stylish rogues walk around with open double-breasted jackets in an act of devil-may-care sartorial bravery, but usually, it’s when the entire outfit is relaxed and casual (like a T-shirt and sneakers with the suit). For your wedding, though, we suggest keeping the jacket closed or removing it altogether. Don’t half-step, the DB jacket is all or none.

  10. Jonathan A Gonzalez says:

    Hi, I am a student in college who was nominated for a very prestigious award. The dress code is formal/black tie and I was wondering if my navy blue Double Breasted blazer with black trousers, white tuxedo shirt with flyfront placket, and black shoes and bowtie would work. Would it be overkill for a white cotton pocket square? And watch or no watch?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Congratulations on the award Jonathan. Sounds swanky.

      As for the outfit, if the dress code is black-tie then a tuxedo or dinner jacket with formal trousers would be the way to go. If you do go with a black-tie look, a white silk pocket square would be preferable to a cotton one which would come off to casual for a tux. And, technically you don’t wear a watch with a tux. That last rule is pretty flexible, but unless you have some reason you need to keep your eye on the time while you’re in a tux, we recommend going without a watch. You’ll already have a lot going on at the wrists with French cuffs and cufflinks. There’s no need to add more hardware.

      It sounds like it’s a black-tie optional event, though. In that case, we recommend going with a full suit. Why? Two reasons:

      1. A suit is more formal than a jacket and pants combo, and
      2. it’s just easier to put together a dressed up outfit when the pants and jacket already match.

      Whichever way you go, though, go all the way. The hybrid tuxedo/suit separates look is just too much of a stretch. If you go with a suit, go with a neck tie, add the watch and a pocket square (with a suit, cotton will work, but we still like silk pocket squares).

  11. Anthony says:

    I have an issue, I stand between
    5’8 1/5 and 5’9, I have 3 double breasted suits, the sleeves are perfect I worried about about the length of the jacket itself, I have been told it should be at the first knuckle of your finger or even at where the palm meets your the crease of your fingers, and I’ve been told it should not be past your crotch and not above your back side

    1. Black Lapel says:

      You can see our method for measuring jacket sleeve length by watching this measurement video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxfiP7bwb-U&list=PLt6Jwpm0mPY9Mq_ryKFniDD49Ug3sbpfS&index=9

  12. MP says:


    I’m wearing a DB (https://www.reiss.com/p/doublebreasted-wool-suit-mens-constantine-in-navy/) for my wedding. Since it is my own reception, if I wanted to jazz it up could I opt for a bowtie & braces perhaps?


    1. Black Lapel says:

      For sure! The braces will be a nice touch if your jacket comes off on the dance floor during your reception. Congrats on the wedding and good luck!

  13. Cameron Wren says:

    Should I wear matching trousers to my DB? I’m getting married and really like the Gray Saxony Windowpane Suit Jacket. Was thinking about pairing it with with charcoal grey trousers. Would that be acceptable, maybe in a texture like houndstooth?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      The double breasted blazer is a stylish look, Cameron. It would be an unorthodox move, though, to wear a non-matching jacket and pants for a wedding. That may be fine. It depends on how formal you want your wedding to be. Just know that if you do go with a jacket and pants, there will likely be some guys attending in suits who will be more dressed up than you are.

      As for the combination, the Gray Saxony Windowpane jacket features a very subtle windowpane. That means it wouldn’t differentiate itself much from a pair of charcoal gray pants (even if they’re charcoal gray herringbone pants). Instead, we recommend playing up the windowpane pattern by pairing the jacket with burgundy pants so that your pants share an accent color with your jacket for a cohesive, not muddled, look.

  14. paul says:

    are the sleeves on the double breasted suit slim or regular size. my arms slightly muscular

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Hey, Paul. Good attention to detail. All of our models wear slim fit suits, but that’s just the general cut of the fabric. The sleeves on the double-breasted suits above are tailored to that models exact arm measurements. So even if you have muscular arms, if you get a Black Lapel made-to-measure suit, the sleeves can be measured to fit your arms however you like (slim, tailored, standard). Curious how our measuring process works? Send an email over to concierge@blacklapel.com or make an appointment to come in and get measured if you’re in the tri-state area.

  15. Mustafa Kacar says:

    Very lengthy and informative piece. Thank you. 🙂

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Glad you liked it, Mustafa. We know you’d slay it in a Black Lapel DB on Astute Attire.

  16. Walter jones says:

    I think your suits are great

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Why thank you, Walter. Have you seen the most recent addition to our double-breasted suits collection? We think it’s pretty great too.

  17. hassan says:

    how do i buy the last suit ? where do i order it ?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Sorry Hassan, but we’ve discontinued that fabric. Recently we released a similar fabric but in gray. Take a look at the double-breasted version of that here.

      If you’re looking for blue, the closest we’ve got is the Flatiron Blue Fine Check. You can customize that as a double-breasted suit but you’ll have to move quickly on that, since we’re down to the last bit of that fabric.

      As always, if you’d like more specific advice about choosing a fabric and customizing a suit, feel free to email us at concierge@blacklapel.com.

  18. Ronio says:

    How to wear a pocket watch with double breasted suit?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      A pocket watch is typically attached by running the chain through a buttonhole on your vest. That’s true regardless of what type of suit jacket you’re wearing. Of course, a vest under a double-breasted suit can be overkill. If you’re wearing a vest and a pocket watch and two layers of fabric plus lapels across your midsection it could add up to a pretty bulky area and throw off the fit of your suit. Our suggestion is to save the pocket watch and vest for wear under a single-breasted jacket.

    2. Wayne says:

      Here is the correct way to wear a pocket watch with a double breasted suit:

      Place the pocket watch in the breast pocket of the jacket. The watch chain should have a t-bar on one end. The t-bar goes under the lapel and through the buttonhole of the lapel from the inside.

      The t-bar provides a nice accent and speaks well for your stewardship of the pocket watch.

      Of course, you can opt to wear the watch in the special trouser pocket provided for it. Be sure to attach the loose end of the chain to the belt loop just above the watch pocket. Attaching the chain to your belt or anywhere else will announce your status as tin horn.

      1. Black Lapel says:

        Thanks for the back-up, Wayne.

        1. Wayne says:

          I should have added my thanks for your superb website- useful, fun to browse, and providing needed love for the eternal double-breasted suit. I own five of them and I am always on the lookout for more!

          1. Black Lapel says:

            Thanks, means a lot to us. Have you seen our latest collection of suit fabrics? We recommend this one as a double-breasted 😉

  19. Witt says:

    Couldn’t agree more with your take on the modern DB! I just picked up my 2nd DB this week. Nothing like a hand made suit especially if you’re going to wear a DB.

  20. Ken Martello says:

    Very nice, does anybody make a three piece suit double breasted in a 1930 to 1950 suit with a matching vest?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Not sure what you mean by “1930 to 1950 suit”, Ken, but you can get any made-to-measure suit from Black Lapel customized with a vest and double-breasted. If you mean a looser fit, like you might have seen in the 30s, 40s and 50s, you can choose the “Standard” fit type when you customize and your suit will be made as roomy as you like. For more individual assistance on getting one of these suits made to your specs, email us at concierge@blacklapel.com.

  21. scott says:

    side vents or single back vent for the jacket?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We recommend side vents for a double-breasted suit. A single vent, with its horseback riding lineage, is too sporty for a double-breasted jacket.

  22. John says:

    I hate that I have to compare Indochino to Black Lapel but I was looking around the internet searching for double breasted suits and I came across Indochino Blog’s article about double breasted suits.

    The link for the picture is

    I hate to say it, but the roll on the lapels and fit of the shoulders is better. I would never however doubt Black Lapel, so I was wondering if your model just has a different body type with wider shoulders. However, what about the lapel roll? Honestly though, Black Lapel is my go-to style guide and will be my first suit and most likely my go-to suit.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Since the models are different, fit is also different. That’s to be expected from a made-to-measure suit. As for the lapel rolls in the photos, differences that small can be difficult to perceive in a photo. Still, to each his own, we’re not going to get all sales-y on you. If you don’t like what you see, perhaps it’s not for you, that’s cool. We can still be friends. And when you’re ready for your best custom suit experience, we’ll be ready for you.

      1. John says:

        Trust me when I say Black Lapel is my first, has been my first, and always will be my first choice in suiting and vesting and shirting and tie-ing and everything else. It’s really just a matter of preference, and it probably is just the photo. Thank you for the friendship, though.

  23. Ian says:

    I found a medium grey striped tweed DB online with black pinstripes set over the tweed, would this suit be too much for per se, a semi-formal occasion dinner, or anywhere else, for that matter (seeing as how it’s an adventurous print, even would be on a SB suit)?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      That’s up to you, Ian, but tweed and pinstripes and double-breasted sounds like a lot to us. Here’s the thing: if you’re doubtful about your outfit other people will start to doubt your style too. If you’re confident in your look, that’s contagious too. So if you’re not sure you can pull off tweed, double-breasted pinstripes, act accordingly.

      Also, pinstripes, which were inspired by the ledger lines of money men back in the day, are probably more appropriate for work than a fancy dinner.

  24. Clarence Jeffers,III says:

    I have been looking for a royal blue peak lapel double breasted jacket or suit, wool.
    Comment please.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      I have found what you are looking for. Check out Black Lapel’s Royal Blue Blazer and once you click “Customize Now,” you will see options for a peak lapel, double-breasted jacket.
      You’re welcome.

  25. Tommy says:

    Wow! What a great article, it gives me confidence to start wearing my DB suit more often. Would you consider a black DB with light white pinstripes (the non-mafia kind) acceptable business attire though?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We’re no fans of black suits in the office (pinstripe or not). We reserve them for funerals and equally somber occassions. Charcoal gray provides a much more versatile foundation for a suit that is still dark and office appropriate. This fabric (like all Black Lapel fabrics) can be cut into a double-breasted suit during customization.

      Not that we’re hating on the black suit, though. We’ve got plenty of recommendations for how to wear a black suit too.

      1. Croft says:

        What about Naval Officers with black suits?

        1. Black Lapel says:

          Well now we’re talking obligatory suit-wearing and you can bet we’d never hate on a man in uniform either.

  26. Mike says:

    I still have my double breasted suits from the mid 90s when I was in my 20s. Both navy blue, one pinstripe the other basic. Even now they still look elegant. Trying to find them in stores is a challenge. You can find them in navy blue but the beautiful patterns and different color fabrics are gone unless you have the money to order your own suit. Who knows when they will be back in the department stores. Hopefully soon. The two button slim fit suits are boring and the tight fill looks uncomfortable for the man wearing it.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      You could wait to find one off the rack in a department store, Mike, but unless you happen to have a fit model’s body and the exact same taste as some designer, you’d be spending a lot of money on a suit that kinda fits and is kinda what you want. We’re not into settling for “kinda”. That’s why we make any of our suit fabrics as double-breasted suits and we make them to your measurements and fit specifications (you can get a slim, tailored or standard fit) so you won’t be uncomfortable. Give it a try, Mike, and you’ll be back in double-breasted style in no time.

  27. Jakub says:

    I am considering having a custom made suit from my tailor. I am debating whether to get a double-breasted or single-breasted suit. If I were to get a double-breasted suit, should I get a vest with it as well; and if so, should the vest be single or double breasted? Can a single-breasted suit be worn with a double-breasted vest? What are the rules for such attire? Thank you for your reply.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      So, we wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t mention that we could make you that custom suit. Any Black Lapel suit fabric can be made as a single- or double-breasted suit and as two-piece or three-piece suit. So we encourage you to take a look at our suit offerings. Whether you go with a Black Lapel suit or someone else, though, our advice remains the same. There are a lot of parts to unpack here, so we’ll tackle your questions one at a time.

      1. Obviously, we love double-breasted suits. When we published this story they were new to our collection, but we continue to get interest from guys wanting to get their favorite suit fabrics made into double-breasted suits.
      2. A three-piece, double-breasted suit is kind of overkill. Aesthetically it’s not a factor because the vest won’t be visible under the double breasted jacket anyway. In fact, if anything a vest can throw off the overall look by adding bulk to your midsection since you’ll have three layers of suiting fabric on top of your torso (the vest and the two lapel layers). Functionally, that extra layer of fabric will have a minor but noticeable affect on your temperature as well. That said, some guys have gotten double-breasted suits from us as three-piece suits just because they wanted to throw in the vest for separate wear.
      3. If you go with a single-breasted suit, you can make any of ours into a three-piece suit by adding a vest when you customize. If you do that, the standard is a single breasted vest. We can make double-breasted vests to be worn with a suit and they look great by special request but they are not the default. Whether it’s your first time getting a custom suit from us or from any other suit maker, we recommend starting with the single breasted vest and getting the fit nailed before you start going with any “off menu” choices like a double-breasted vest.
      4. As for rules, the biggest rule to be aware of is the bottom button rule. There are also some things to look out for when it comes to the fit and style of a vest. First off, make sure the vest is trim so that if doesn’t cause any protrusion under your suit jacket. Second, make sure the vest is long enough to cover your waist but not too long (For more on these rules check out our story on How to Wear a Vest Casually).

      Hopefully we’ve given you plenty to chew on, Jakub. For more specific assistance on what to pick and special requests, feel free to reach out to a Black Lapel stylist at concierge@blacklapel.com and we’ll take care of you.

  28. Ran says:

    I love the idea of wearing a dBm in this day and age, but I can’t seem to find any that are of great quality and of a reasonable price, any suggestions ?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Glad we could help you define your double-breasted style, Ran.

      Not to toot our own horn, but our suits are of great quality and of a reasonable price. Any Black Lapel suit can be made with a double-breasted jacket when you customize it. Why not give us a shot?

  29. Owl says:

    Isn’t matching the pocket square color with the tie color faux pas?
    Great suit though so I guess it doesn’t matter.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Thanks for the kudos on the suit.

      As for the pocket square and tie combo, you’re right, the matching set tie and pocket square is a Busch league move. What’s tough to see in the photo is that the pocket square we used here is actually a different texture than the tie with a different shade of purple.

      Good eye, though, Owl.

  30. Nathanael says:

    In the late fifties/early sixties Miles Davis wore a stunning pinstriped DB suit. I admire it’s streamlined look and the fact that it appears to only have two buttons. Can you shed some light on this minimalist peculiarity?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Ahhhh, Miles. Talk about doing more with less. With three little trumpet valves, the man pushed jazz in new directions (repeatedly) and changed the face of music as we know it. He was also a phenomenal dresser. So, leave it to him to pull of one of the more difficult styles to ever hit the suiting world, the 2 x 1 double-breasted suit (something you could recreate in a Black Lapel suit if you’d like).

      The suit, pictured here also featured patch pockets and a patch chest pocket. When you add up all these little nuances, you end up with an outfit that is completely dressed up, yet not stuffy in the least. Pure elegance.

  31. Ve shy says:

    Hi , my husband has his DB suit from the 80s and it buttons on the bottom. It still looks great .and very well maintained. Question, can he wear it.
    This conversation started because,my son is looking for suits for interviews .

    1. Black Lapel says:

      The trend in the 80s for a double-breasted suit was along the lines of what Leonardo DiCaprio sported in The Wolf of Wall Street. They had low armholes, loose sleeves, gigantic aircraft carrier lapels, shoulders that would have fit over a pair of shoulder pads worn by an NFL player and usually two slim men could fit into one of these jackets. If this sounds like what your husband’s got hanging in his closet, we wouldn’t suggest wearing it, no matter how pristine its condition.

      If, by chance, it was cut by some forward thinking tailor who managed to nail all of the points we highlighted above and make a modern style double-breasted jacket way before its time then its fair game for your husband, but still not a good idea for your son to wear to interviews. A double-breasted suit is a little too aggressive for a job interview. Instead, share a link to our How to Nail Your Interview Look story with your son. He’ll have an easier time keeping the attention on him, not his suit, in a quality single-breasted getup.

  32. Vision Couture says:

    I loved this article and ofcause love the DB. As a young designer I believe it is why I’m actually working on a line of DB’s because it says a lot about the wearer. I’ll be wearing yet another DB suit to the Durban July.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Glad to hear we could provide some inspiration to double up.

  33. charlie says:

    I am short, i am talking short. I am only about 5’7. Could i wear a double breasted suit?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      You have the good fortune of being the exact same height as style icon and master double-breasted suit wearer, The Duke of Windsor. As the Duke made it abundantly clear the asymmetrical, vertically slanted lines have a lengthening effect that aids the shorter man appear a bit taller (and a bit more baller). Even if you aren’t as slim as he was, the slanted lines will also help to slim you. We say go for it.

  34. Michel says:

    Which would you recommend for someone trying out this double breasted suit for the first time, a plain fabric or pinstriped? Which is more stylish?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      “More stylish” is a subjective term, Michel. Perhaps a simpler way to look at things is how formal are the two styles. A solid fabric, double-breasted suit is less formal and can be worn outside of the office. A pinstriped double-breasted suit has business formal written all over it. As your first foray into double-breasted, it makes sense to go with a solid in a not-so-dark color. That will make it a suit you can wear to things like weddings and other social calls, not just to the big meeting.

  35. Mayeul says:


    I have one question:
    What is the most formal between a Double breasted suit and a 3 pieces suit?
    I would say that it s the same and the 3 pieces suit is the solution to wear a single breasted with more elegance thanks to the waistcoat?!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      A DB and a 3-piece are probably about equal on the formality scale. There are, of course, ways to change them both up to be more or less formal. Wearing either in pinstripes steps things up a notch (and looks straight baller!). On the flip side, you could get a wool/linen blend (like this) made as a double-breasted suit with patch pockets and it’ll be a more laid back suit. It’s all about how you customize it.

  36. Robert C says:

    It is the best representation. A statement of power and presentability. I love it.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Excellent, Robert. We love double-breasteds too, you’ll spot them at the Black Lapel office regularly (and sometimes on our Instagram)!

  37. jrichardchambliss says:

    Please , tell me. you don’t think this is new.We did wear db suits before you were born.Everyone wasn’t boxy or mafia.
    We knew what European cuts were, even then.The things you think r new we’ve done before, and even if u think they r cooler, there not

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Mr. Chambliss, our goal, as always, is to provide some fun facts and advice that can be used to improve our readers’ practical knowledge on style. Thanks for the feedback and for reading The Compass. Have a great day. 🙂

    2. PM says:

      Hey JR, you’re wrong. The modern DB, yes modern, was not cut the same way in the past. They were much looser fitting, almost draping the body. Thicker wider shoulders, pants had at least 2 or 3 pleats, fabrics could be used to upholster a sofa. Today’s DB is cooler. Cooler, lighter fabrics, slimmer tailoring and accessorized with better style. I grew up with the DB and have seen its transformation. The old cuts made you look like you were swimming in fabric. If you try wearing the old ones, you will be carbon dated quite easily.

  38. rudy says:

    How about 6 x1 and 4 x1? Too conservative?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Rudy, a 4×1 can be a great look. The longer lapel and the relatively fewer buttons make for a elongated torso and can help make one look taller. Whichever one you end up with (4×1 or 6×1) opt for a slimmer fit, accessorize with some great shoes (like these gorgeous monks) and wear it with confidence and conservative simply won’t enter the conversation.

  39. Dr A Galib says:

    what should be the measurement of the overlap of two sides, when inner row is buttoned?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      This measurement depends on your body measurements and the type of fit (at least when you get a custom suit like ours) so we don’t use a set standard. Why do you ask? Doing a little DIY project?

  40. Terence says:

    Great post! What’s your opinion on a ventless DB suit jacket? Like to hear it. Prince Charles in the UK goes ventless. I find it very interesting because the UK is pretty much all side vents and they pretty much started it. I guess P Charles looks at what everyone else is doing and then does differently. Well if one is going bespoke I surmise one can do what he wants since the suit is being made.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      You hit the nail on the head. When the suit is custom made for you, the vent choice is yours. All Black Lapel suits can be made ventless (Italian style), with a single vent (American style) or double-vented (British style).

      Still, as you pointed out, these designations have gone by the wayside. Brits wear ventless, Italians wear double vents, Americans wear whatever strikes their fancy and the rest of the world’s men (aka, the majority of people) wear whatever they please.

      If you like the look of ventless, go for it. Just keep your hands out of your pants pockets when possible so the jacket doesn’t bunch up in the back as ventless jackets tend to do.

  41. Doug says:

    The DB suit is back? Nah, it never went anywhere to those of us who wore them then; and still where them today, style is timeless. I have to agree with Stone’s comment as well; the classic suit fully buttoned, speaks for itself and the man wearing it.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      True, the double-breasted suit is a classic but it is still a a new addition to the closet for a whole generation of men who grew up in the “business casual” era.

      We get your point though, Doug, in the immortal words of LL Cool J, “don’t call it a comeback.”

  42. Stone says:

    1940s era looked way better than these slimmed down ones. Classier as we’ll.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We’ll have to beg to differ there, Stone. To each his own, but we prefer to incorporate throwback style with our accessories.

  43. jack says:

    What I want to know is if double breasted suit are in style

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Nope. Wear a double-breasted suit and we’ll be the first ones in line to publicly laugh at you.

      Just kidding. Yes, they’re in style. Double-breasted suits are classics and classics never go out of style. Just ask Denzel Washington, Michael B. Jordan or any of the stylish gents who show up in a Pinterest search for DB suits.

  44. jack says:

    What do think of db chalk stripe wide lapel im 6’4″ 256lbs I need your help

    1. Black Lapel says:

      It’s pretty tough to give advice based purely on height and weight. We wouldn’t want to steer you wrong. How about sending a couple of photos over to us at concierge@blacklapel.com?

  45. Javel says:

    Thank you very much

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Glad to be of service!

  46. Javel says:

    When buying the Double-breasted in slim fit, do you suggest getting a size up or exactly your size?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      A Black Lapel suit is made to your measurements so there are no “sizes” like you see on off-the-rack suits. Our tailors make all the adjustments for fit type, body type, etc., so give us your TRUE measurements and you’ll get a truly great fit.

      If you’re worried a Slim Fit will be too body hugging, don’t inflate your measurements, just order a more relaxed Tailored Fit.

  47. Jim says:

    Is a double breasted suit appropriate to wear to a funeral?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      A double-breasted suit can be funeral appropriate but stay away from patterns like pinstripes, it’s not a board meeting. Pay your respects respectfully with a dark solid suit (single- or double-breasted).

  48. Terence says:

    Just want to say you get what you pay for, usually. Good material costs money, therefore a more expensive suit, not to mention the materials being used like the lining and so forth. So when I say “high end”, I mean the best of all things. You can’t get champagne with beer money. Maybe champagne is overpriced but still you can’t get it with beer money. Hope this is clear. I would like to add it would be nice if I could actually see and feel your product. You might just be able to save me a lot of money per suit. Lastly, thanks for your support of my wardrobe. Much appreciated.

  49. StansPro says:


    1. Black Lapel says:

      Sorry Stan, bottom buttons are bottom buttons and if there’s one thing we won’t stand for it’s buttoned bottom buttons! That’s just how we were raised.

  50. Terence says:

    I go exclusively DB for suits. I have a drop of 14 inches, so as I understand it DB is the way to go since it has a natural V shape to it. For blazers and sport coats, I go SB in 2 and 3 buttons. DB is a very dressy look so for blazers and sport coats I opt for SB. I go bespoke as well as; you can imagine there’s no suit off the rack that will fit me. I’m average height about 5′ 10″. It really feels good when the best dressed men in the high end stores compliment my suits. DB is back says Black Lapel but it will always remain with me. Great post though. I stick with my tailor but I like what Black Lapel has to offer. Would like to see some high-end suits.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Good to hear you’re keeping the DB suit in the regular rotation, Terence.

      On the “high end” point. If you’re waiting for an overpriced Black Lapel suit, don’t hold your breath.

  51. Rene says:

    What’s the best kind of hat to wear with this kind of suit?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Rene, it depends on the type of look you’re going for. A fedora paired with a DB suit is always a classic get-up.

  52. bill gregory says:

    Age 68…5′ 6″ and 150 lbs. DB for me?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We say yes Bill. Shoot us a pic of yourself at concierge@blacklapel.com if you’d like more detailed feedback!

  53. Marcus says:

    How about larger and shorter men? Not quite Danny DeVito, (if only because I’m not -that- short) but you get the idea.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We’re pretty sure we’ve seen Joe Pesci in a DB suit in one of his movies but were not willing to guarantee that it was a good look for him. Your instincts serve you right. DB suits do have a way of adding volume to the torso and shorter and heftier gents should steer clear unless they really love the look. Its not a deal breaker but a deterrent. Hope that helps!

      1. Jovan says:

        On the other hand, using my example of the Duke of Windsor, he was thin and not exactly vertically gifted yet looked great in a 4×2.

        1. Black Lapel says:

          Jovan, we don’t disagree. Which is why we think shorter AND (not “or”) heftier gents should steer clear. 🙂 At the end of the day, if you have a good tailor who will patiently work with you to get the fit right (or an online custom suiting company who will do the same), you’re going to be fine.

  54. Alex says:

    I have been advised that I specifically should not wear a double-breasted suit, because I am very tall (6’3″) and very thin (143lb). I really like the look of a double-breasted suit, though. Would you say that certain body types look better with single-breasted vs. double-breasted suits?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Alex, may we suggest that you reconsider the double-breasted suit? Not only do we think you’d look great in one custom made for you, a DB suit may actually help widen the appearance of your torso. Exhibit A: Our models are very tall and very thin like yourself. 😉

      1. Jovan says:

        Yeah, I was gonna say… if there’s any body type it flatters the most, it’s tall and thin. But a well-cut double breasted can look fine on any body.

        1. Black Lapel says:

          Exactly Jovan. Thanks for chiming in. 🙂

      2. Eddie says:

        What about the older (mid-40’s) somewhat shorter (5-9″) stocky (think Kevin James at his lightest man? We’re told DB suites look better on taller thin men, however I own an off-the-shelf DB suit and get compliments every time I wear it,(and if I do say so myself, I look good in it), as opposed to when I were my everyday SB suits. All I see these days are “slim” cut DB suits, which obviously wont work on my body type. Opine please.

        1. Black Lapel says:

          Eddie, it sounds like you were fortunate enough to find a OTR DB suit that fits you really well! And those compliments are coming your way because its so unusual for men nowadays to sport that DB look! You’re taking the path less traveled and compliments on that path are always well earned. Now remember “slim cut” OTR and Slim Fit Black Lapel custom are two entirely different things! With that in mind, fit is the most important aspect of a good suit/look and so if your OTR DB suit fits you perfectly, then don’t let anybody tell you otherwise! 🙂

  55. Charlie says:

    How about wearing the a bow tie with the DB?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Black Lapel approved.

  56. Brandon says:

    That’s good to hear. I’d gladly pick up a tropical wool or cotton and a flannel suit from you if/when they were available. As far as DB jackets, I’ll pass. I like them a lot (on other people), but unfortunately I’m a short and fairly slim guy but with an athletic build, which means larger shoulders and chest. Every DB jacket I’ve tried on, even the fairly well-fitting and slimmer ones, seem extra huge because of my build.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      No worries Brandon. We still think the DB jacket could work for you but we’re stubborn/awesome like that. We’ll definitely work on getting you some seasonal fabrics soon!

  57. Brandon says:

    Those look really good, but unfortunately DB jackets just do not work for me. What I’d really like to see is more seasonal fabrics, since I live in a location where “all-season” suits really only work in the spring and fall, considering we have obnoxiously hot and humid summers and winters where it’s not uncommon to go a month without even topping 0 Fahrenheit.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We recommend giving them a shot! You’d be surprised how different a custom DB jacket can be. And that sounds like a brutal disparity in winters and summers. New York City isn’t one of the friendliest city when it comes to weather as well. In fact, it was snowing all week this week. So we’re just as keen about getting more seasonal fabrics, and our team is working hard on curating the best season-friendly fabrics for our upcoming releases. Stay tuned and stay warm (or cool)! 🙂

  58. Tomas says:

    Do you have a specific date set yet ? I’m planning on ordering within the next month or so and would love to add one of these 🙂

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Tomas, the date is being finalized but it will most definitely be within the next month!

  59. Steven Casagrande says:

    I disagree that a double-breasted suit is inherently more formal than its single-breasted counterpart. Typically the further from traditional mens’ evening wear you get, the less formal the attire.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Steven, we don’t disagree. It is a dressier look but not a more formal look, a subtle but important distinction. We’ve made a couple of edits to make that a bit more clear. Thanks for the feedback!

      1. Steven Casagrande says:

        I can agree with that. Since the DB look is so rare these days, it will definetly draw more eyeballs than SB!

        Although I don’t plan on getting a suit right now as I am currently bulking, I plan on rewarding myself with a DB suit once I hit my weight goals. DB looks amazing on a muscular frame. Perhaps with this announcement BL will be where I get it!

        1. Black Lapel says:

          We certainly hope so Steven – looking forward to that day!

  60. Jovan says:

    New fabrics!

    I want to add that it’s also okay to fasten both on a double breasted. Unlike most single breasted coats where the bottom button and buttonhole are slightly cutaway, the buttons fall in a straight line from top to bottom. What I like to do is fasten just the waist button and use it like I would on a single breasted suit when sitting down and standing up. I realize that’s not the iGent standard, and it can crumple a bit in the middle due to not using the anchor button, but it’s just my thing. The double breasted gives you a few options to show your personality in that regard, though, which is part of its beauty.

    The 4×2 is very Duke of Windsor. He often wore his with only the bottom fastened, anchor button undone allowing the softly rolled lapels to go down to the bottom. This had the side benefit of creating a more vertical lapel line for his short stature. He managed to make a double breasted look casual and effortless. In essence, the clothes didn’t wear him. Edward may have been a controversial figure — he was easily misled into trusting the Nazi Party, for one thing, and many Brits think abdicating the throne for an American woman was dereliction of duty at its worst — but one cannot deny his lasting influence on menswear. Thanks to him, we enjoy the comfort benefit of soft turn down collars and backless waistcoats with our tuxedos. He also pushed the envelope in what was acceptable for lounge suits. Daddy thought his pleats and cuffs looked terribly sloppy in 1919, yet I can’t think of many people who haven’t worn them before and looked acceptable!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Touche Jovan!

  61. Thomas Rhodes says:

    So why doesn’t Black Lapel sell these if they are so in? I would love to buy one from them.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Thomas, great question! I think we may have preempted this one already. Check out the note at the very end of the post! 😉

  62. Jay says:

    I like two breasts and I cannot lie.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      So Fellas (Yeah) Fellas (Yeah)
      Do your closets have some room? (Hell yeah!)
      Well shake it, shake it, shake it, shake it, shake that empty rack
      DB suit’s back!

      1. Brandon Ritman says:


        1. Black Lapel says:


      2. Stephan says:

        Well played

        1. Black Lapel says:

          [still nodding…]

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