Single breasted or Double Breasted Suit?

Buying a suit should be one of the more pleasurable but also important tasks a chap faces. For many of us, the suit is intricately bound with work, the office and the commute and thus is seen by too many as a uniform. A man looks at his best in a well cut and correctly fitted suit and with the ever increasing interest in dapper and elegant dressing, men are looking to the suit to provide that sartorial core to their wardrobe – regardless of the business or social occasion.

There are innumerable permutations to consider when looking at a suit – whether to have a bespoke, made to measure or off the peg; linings, vents, cloth weight, working cuffs should you chose made to measure or bespoke. However, for this brief article Mr. Jenks is simply pondering the basic structure, the silhouette; do you opt for a single breasted or double breasted jacket?

Pinstripe Double Breasted Suit
Image by Huddersfield Textiles

Single Breasted Jacket
Image by Huddersfield Textiles

In recent years, the single breasted jacket has dominated. As a shape (regardless of number of buttons), it fits all body shapes generally elongating the torso and drawing the eye to the centre of the body. In recent times though, the double breasted suit jacket has made a comeback – seen in films and on the backs of celebrities it has enjoyed a renaissance not seen since the 1930s. It is certainly a very smart option, almost having a slightly military edge to it. The jacket needs to be done up to show off its shape to best advantage and as such could be seen by some as a more formal option.

As with so much men’s wear there are two essential questions that need to be answered; what environment is the suit being worn in and the owner’s body shape. In an office environment, given its rarity, the double breasted option will probably stand out – great if you’re the boss, maybe less so if you’re fresh off the grad scheme. The single breasted predominates.

Given the greater expanse of material in a double breasted jacket, body shape plays a critical part in deciding single or double. A double breasted jacket can come across as more box like – especially if not well tailored at the shoulders and waist. This can also mean that it is not a good option for those shorter or larger chaps out there as it can make you look wider. A double breasted blazer remains a traditional option – allowing you to at least break up the body with different colour below the waist – though many tailors now see customers ordering single breasted blazers with lighter horn buttons rather than conservative brass ones as that cut and combination is seen as more flexible, modern and flattering.

The single breasted suit offers a sleeker alternative – especially in its two or one button guise. In this modern and more casual age it remains more capable of being worn with a tie less shirt; a double breasted jacket done up looks lost without a tie to draw the eye’s attention away from the greater expanse of cloth. Those shorter men wishing to project an illusion of height can go for a very waisted single breasted jacket; a fractionally longer flared cut over the hips that has traditionally aided in elongating the body’s outline.

However, the double breasted remains the rather smart option for the adventurous – certainly it has roared back into fashion; indeed there are reports some well-known tweed manufacturers are considered double breasted versions. Go, try, test, experiment and sleep on it – regardless of what you buy or have the budget to indulge in, a rushed suit purchase is only ever regretted.

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