What Is a Double-Breasted Suit Jacket?

What Is a Double-Breasted Suit Jacket?

When shopping for a new suit, you may find some suit jackets labeled as "double breasted." To the unsuspecting eye, a double breasted jacket looks the same as a standard suit, but there are a few nuances between the two that shouldn't be ignored. Unfortunately, this often results in men choosing the wrong type of suit jacket for their needs. But the only way you'll know if a double breasted suit jacket is right for you is by familiarizing yourself with this style. So, what is a double-breasted suit jacket exactly?

Overview of Double-Breasted Suit Jackets

A double-breasted suit jacket is a form of formal outerwear that's characterized by a wide, overlapping flaps of fabric on the front, each of which has a two columns of buttons. A typical double-breasted suit jacket, for example, may feature four buttons on each side. However, you generally don't fasten all these buttons. Rather, you may fasten just one or two buttons. It's a classic, stylish look that many men prefer. As shown in the image above, double-breasted suit jackets have wide overlapping flaps of fabric. When wearing a double-breasted suit jacket, you must wrap one side over the other, at which point you can fasten the buttons (some buttons; not all) to secure it in place.

History of Double-Breasted Suit Jackets

The double-breasted suit jacket has been around for more than a century, with origins dating back to the 1800s. It became particularly popular, however, during the 1930s when men would wear them as a sign of societal class. Double-breasted suit jackets remained popular throughout the 1940s and 50s. In the 1960s, the single-breasted suit jacket took its place as the preferred style of formal outerwear among men. Today, single-breasted suit jackets are still the most popular, accounting for more than 90% of all men's suit jackets. But millions of men still wear the classic double-breasted suit jacket as part of their formal attire. If you're shopping for a new suit, you should certainly consider the double-breasted jacket style.

Single- vs Double-Breasted Suit Jackets

There are also single-breasted suit jackets. While double-breasted suit jackets feature two columns of buttons, single-breasted suit jackets only feature one column of buttons. Single-breasted has become the most common style for men's suit jackets, as it offers a clean, form-fitting appearance. With that said, there are still reasons to choose a double-breasted suit jacket.

Benefits of Wearing a Double-Breasted Suit Jacket

One notable benefit of wearing a double-breasted suit jacket is its ability to create a unique appearance that differentiates you from the crowd. With more than 90% of all suit jackets worn in the United States featuring the single-breasted design, you can create a unique appearance by sporting a double-breasted suit jacket. Double-breasted suit jackets are also more formal than single-breasted jackets. Of course, both jacket styles can be worn as part of a two- or three-piece formal suit. Of the two styles, though, double-breasted is the most formal. Because of this, double-breasted suit jackets are often worn for formal black-tie events like weddings and evening parties. It's worth mentioning that double-breasted suit jackets are warmer than single-breasted jackets. This is due to the fact that they feature wide overlapping flaps of fabric. With a greater amount of layered fabric, a double-breasted suit jacket will keep you warmer and more comfortable during the winter than a single-breasted jacket. And for added warmth, you can even choose a double-breasted suit jacket made of a thick fabric like wool. Wool suits, whether single-breasted or double-breasted, are warmer than cotton and linen suits. As a result, many men prefer wearing wool suits during the otherwise cold winter months, while cotton and linen suits are preferred for the cooler months during spring and summer. 

Are There Any Disadvantages to Wearing a Double-Breasted Suit Jacket?

There aren't any real disadvantages to wearing a double-breasted suit jacket instead of a single-breasted suit jacket. In some cases, although, they may be considered too formal. If you're attending a job interview, for example, it's probably best to stick with a traditional single-breasted suit jacket. Single-breasted jackets are still formal but not quite as much as their double-breasted counterparts. Other than this, there's really no reason why you shouldn't consider wearing a double-breasted suit jacket.

Tips on Wearing a Double-Breasted Suit Jacket

If you're going to wear a double-breasted suit jacket, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, you'll need to fasten the buttons so that it creates an attractive, cohesive appearance. This doesn't mean that you should fasten all the buttons on a double-breasted suit jacket. Rather, you should only fasten a single column of buttons. If you haven't worn a double-breasted suit jacket before, try it on in front of a mirror so that you can see firsthand how it looks. After fastening one row of buttons, look in the mirror to ensure that it's aligned and offers a clean, stylish appearance. It's also recommended that you choose a double-breasted suit jacket made of premium materials. Don't just choose a double-breasted jacket made of a high-quality fabric. While important, the quality of the buttons is equally important. If a double-breasted suit jacket features cheap, low-quality buttons, you may discover some of them breaking or falling off. Unfortunately, when this occurs, it can turn an otherwise attractive suit jacket into a not-so-attractive form of outerwear. You can avoid this headache, however, by choosing a double-breasted suit jacket with strong, premium buttons.

The Bottom Line on Double-Breasted Suit Jackets

Double-breasted suit jackets, while less popular than single-breasted jackets, offer a clean, formal appearance that's defined by wide overlapping flaps of fabric on the front. Another defining feature of this style is the use of two individual columns of buttons. The end result is a unique style that's highly formal, even more so than the single-breasted style.