The King & Allen Guide to Men’s Double-Breasted Suits

If you’re thinking of ordering a tailored double-breasted suit, make sure you read our expert guide first.

The History of Double-Breasted Suits

This style of suit came into fashion in the mid-1930s: the style emerging from naval reefer jackets. They remained fashionable until the mid-1950s when the single-breasted suit became more popular.

As the ‘60s began to swing, they started to look traditional and old-fashioned and to an extent, that reputation remains to this day. What has changed, however, are people’s attitudes to looking traditional. In a world where “Fashion is something so ugly, it has to change every six months”, wearing a more classical style shows class and distinction.

There was a brief resurgence of double-breasted jackets in the 1980s. They were cut with wide shoulders from bold, shiny cloth. They soon became a symbol of the look-at-me yuppie, epitomised by Gordon Gekko in the film, “Wall Street.” The style died with the onset of the 1991 recession when such expressions of wealth were seen as vulgar.

Recently, it has enjoyed a resurgence, adopting the best of both eras. They are smart, crisp and distinguished like their vintage forebears, but are cut from lighter, more modern cloth that suits today’s environments and lifestyles.

What is it’s characteristics?

This style of jacket is cut in a very specific way. The key characteristics are the overlapping front flaps and the parallel set of buttons that adorn the front. One set of buttons fastens and one set is decorative but necessary to give the jacket it’s symmetry.

Great Double-Breasted Bespoke Suit by King & Allen
Double Breasted Suits

Unlike the single-breasted jacket, the style choices are traditionally quite limited. The lapels should be peaked, pockets should be straight, and vents should be double. It is conservative in the true sense of the word. Moreover, because of the excess cloth, the buttons must be done up at all times. This level of discipline speaks volumes for the wearer and is what gives it its distinguished style.

Is this the suit for you?

Some customers come to us for this style of suit because they have worn them all their lives. These customers often have what we would describe as a ‘timeless style’. They care about their appearance and see dressing well as a reflection of living well and behaving well. They would always wear a tie and would perhaps match it with a pocket square. The trousers would have side adjusters and possibly buttons for braces.

Other customers who come to us are trying the style for the first time. They probably have a number of suits in their wardrobe and this is an opportunity to add something a little different.

A final word on ‘going bespoke’

In order to wear a double-breasted suit well, it must fit perfectly. There is no margin for error. It is a fine balance of a number of factors. If the jacket is too tight, it will pull all the time. If it is too big, it will bellow and make the wearer look fat. If the jacket is the wrong length, it will alter the balance between upper and lower body, which is disastrous. The button choice must reflect your height and the cloth choice must reflect your width. A tailor will advise on all these matters and take an accurate set of measurements, ensuring that it is the perfect reflection of your body shape and your taste.