The perplexing decision of choosing between single and double breasted suit jackets continues to confound gentlemen on their sartorial journey. In this detailed guide, we cover the key considerations when choosing between a single and double breasted suit jacket.
That elusive hour, metaphorically speaking, at least, is around the corner. You’re ready to strut a suit and dress with aplomb as you fully reintegrate into civil society, having emerged from the last couple of years stronger, wiser and more resilient. You’re ready to tackle all challenges that come your way, and it starts with strutting the right suit. You’ve decided on a wardrobe upgrade, and with meticulous notes crafted, decide to splurge on a made to measure suit that fits you like a glove. Like you’ve been poured into it. Some Bond-ish stuff, you tell yourself, rather arrogantly, and more importantly, rightfully.
Fabrics have been picked out. You know your super count. You want this suit to be fine. Damn fine. Lapel research. Heck yes. You know you’re going with peak lapels to flatter that tall, athletic build that you have. Side vents. Check. Working buttons. Check. And the list goes on and on. You’re ready to make the splurge indeed, with every ‘I’ dotted and every ‘t’ crossed. Until you almost trip over your own shoelaces. Metaphorically speaking, anyway. You haven’t decided on one of the most fundamental factors of purchasing a suit.
What type of suit breast are you going to opt for? Single breasted, with its modern connotations. Or the alternative, throw back but incredibly powerful double breasted suit. Pondering may help, but you need more than that to equip you with the background to make the best decision possible. It’s a big day coming up after all, remember?
Single Vs Double Breasted Suit Jacket Characteristics
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The delineation between single and double breasted suit jackets originates from differences with the closing system and button configuration of a jacket.
The single breasted jacket refers to a suit jacket / blazer / sports coat where the fabric meets specifically in the middle of your body. There is no overap of fabric, with variations stemming from the number of buttons you can opt for – typically single, two, three or even four buttons!
Conversely, the double breasted jacket is accompanied by folding fabric over from left to right.
Besides the blatant differences between a single and double breasted jacket, below are some additional ways that the two jackets are delineated:
- Modern Double Breasted Jackets are narrower at the waist and usually longer than a single breasted jacket.
- Double Breasted Jackets focus more attention at the top, while single breasted jackets allow for an even expansion of material throughout the jacket.
- Double Breasted Suits are accompanied by four to six buttons, while a single breasted suit is generally accompanied by two buttons (occasionally three buttons).
- Given that Double Breasted Jackets flatter taller, more athletic men, they are accompanied by peak or shawl lapels, which helps draw attention to the wearer’s shoulders. Single Breasted Jackets can come with notch, peak or shawl lapels.
Single Breasted Jackets
If attending a formal event, one will notice that the vast majority of men are strutting a single breasted jacket, owing to its versatile nature, whether it be for formal, leisure or even a sports oriented occasion. A single breasted jacket provides a sharp, refined look, whether it is worn buttoned or unbuttoned.
The classic, two button single breasted jacket increases perceived vertical lines, thus lending itself to a slimmer silhouette. The two button jacket is typically accompanied by a notched lapel, while a single buttoned single breasted jacket – primarily reserved for tuxedos, are characterized by peak lapels.
Single Breasted One Button Jacket
Single Breasted Tuxedo Jackets are accompanied by a single button, resulting in a clean, refined & dapper look. Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
Single Breasted One Button jackets are best used for black tie events, with the minimalistic nature of a single button tuxedo jacket complementing the requisite elegant aesthetic associated with a tuxedo. Single, two or three button jackets comprise over 95% of the jackets in the marketplace, and are hence the most prevalent.
Since single button jackets are typically associated with tuxedo jackets, these articles of clothing will most likely have peak or shawl lapels made from velvet, satin or grosgrain.
Single Breasted Two Button Jacket
The single breasted two button suit is the most prevalent variant of the minimalistic dapper statement! Courtesy of www.michaelandrews.com
The single breasted two button jacket is the most contemporary, commonplace variant. While these jackets have two functional buttons, it is best advised to fasten just the top jacket button. Fastening both buttons will almost certainly ensure that your proportions look misplaced. With the second button fastened, the jacket stops resting and draping naturally, resulting in an excessively tight look, especially if you carry some extra weight.
Single Breasted Two Button Jackets are generally considered the most versatile, along with being the safest choice. These jackets can come with either notched or peak lapels, with peak lapels allowing you to make a powerful statement, given that their help place emphasis on your shoulders and masculine frame.
The single breasted jacket can be accompanied by peak lapels, helping accentuate the wearer’s shoulders and a masculine frame. Courtesy of www.parisiangentleman.com
Single Breasted Three Button Jacket
While Single Breasted Three Button Jackets are available, they are typically less aesthetic than a single breasted two button jacket, given that they usually come with shorter, truncated lapels. Similar to a single breasted two button jacket, it is best advised to fasten the top two buttons of the jacket. Fastening all three will lead to the same issues as stated above.
Double Breasted Jacket
Courtesy of www.hespokestyle.com
The double breasted jacket was popularized by The Duke of Kent. Double Breasted Jackets are considered more stylish and more cutting edge, given that few people can find one, and an even smaller number can successfully pull one off with the requisite level of confidence!
Despite the stigma associated with a double breasted jacket, the double breasted suit has broken free from its ‘formal wear shackles’, and has become a suit worthy of making a powerful and confident statement.
Classically manufactured with six buttons (and three on each side), the top button is sewn at an elevated and wider stance from the remaining buttons, so as to accentuate the chest and create a slimming effect at the waist. These buttons are fastened to suppress the waist and create that ideal ‘v’ shape aesthetic. The overlapping of fabric in the front panel with additional rows of buttons on each side provides both a decorative element and added warmth for the wearer.
Double Breasted Jackets can often be the defacto choice for a gentleman who is opting for a broader shoulder look along with a proportioned waist – hence helping to maintain that coveted ‘V’ shaped silhouette.
Double Breasted Jackets are typically accompanied by peaked lapels, which strengthens the notion above that these jackets are meant to accentuate a man’s physique.
Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
A double breasted suit is conventionally referenced with two numbers e.g 4 x 2. The first number indicates the number of buttons on the front, while the second number denotes the number of functional buttons. i.e a jacket that has 4 buttons, 2 of which are functional.
Courtesy of www.lanieri.com
The Dark Knot Tip: While double breasted jackets can accentuate that coveted ‘v’ shape physique, they are best worn with taller men who have an athletic (but not overtly athletic build). For example, an American football player with wide shoulders and a narrower waist, or a body builder, would look misplaced in a double breasted suit, as the jacket would over emphasize the shoulders, making the lower body look disproportional. However, the aesthetic of an athletic gentleman with shoulders wider than his hips and waist will be flattered by a double breasted suit.
Modern Double Breasted Jacket
Unlike yesteryear, the contemporary double breasted jacket is sleekly tailored and cut shorter. The jacket sits close to the body without hugging it, with the armholes cut higher to create a cleaner look. Modern day double breasted jackets are natural, soft and tailored, as opposed to be sharp and bulky (ala 80’s Wall Street). As a consequence, the contemporary double breasted jacket retains its original sense of elegance, all whilst embracing a minimalist, modern look.
The modern double breasted jacket is cut shorter, along with higher armholes. Courtesy of www.supar.com.tr
4 x 2 Double Breasted Jackets
Courtesy of www.the-shoe-aristocrat.blogspot.com
The 4 x 2 double breasted suit refers to the number of buttons on the front while the second number signifies the amount of functional buttons. So in this case, a jacket has 4 buttons, 2 of which are functional.
The 4 x 2 is considered a more modern interpretation of the double breasted suit. Similar to single breasted suits, only the top button of a 4 x 2 double breasted suit should be fastened, so as to avoid the suit looking overly boxy & rigid.
6 x 2 Double Breasted Suit
Courtesy of www.therake.com
The grand daddy of double breasted suits, the 6 x 2 is considered the true classic of this particular suit genre. The 6 x 2 features 6 buttons in a Y configuration, of which only 2 are functional. If worn by a taller gentleman with a more athletic built, the 6 x 2 Double Breasted Jacket can truly accentuate your physique and really make you stand out.
Courtesy of www.realmenrealstyle.com
Double Breasted Jackets truly help complement a taller, leaner & more athletic build! Courtesy of www.asos.com
As indicated above, body proportions are of critical importance when discerning between a single and double breasted suit. Double breasted suits flatter a taller, more athletic body type, bringing increased attention to your shoulders and helping accentuate that coveted ‘V’ silhouette. As long as you’re not quite stocky, a double breasted suit can significantly complement a taller man’s physique. Almost customary peak lapels will further help widen your aesthetic.
For gentlemen who are shorter or of a larger build, a single breasted suit will help increase perceived vertical lines. For aspiring dapper gents who are extremely muscular, shorter, round in shape or even trapezoid (rectangular) shaped, a single breasted jacket will help maintain proportions and even help in accentuating a slimming look. As indicated above, double breasted jackets work with limited body types.
As indicated above, a double breasted jacket is typically accompanied by peaked lapels, helping accentuate shoulder width.
Given that the 6 x2 double breasted suits are the epitome of a vintage suit, these are best reserved for more formal settings. However, stand alone double breasted 6 x 2 & 4 x 2 jackets worn as separates (not worn with matching suit trouser pants) can often be worn in less formal settings, and can allow you to make that emphatic style statement!
Double Breasted Jackets worn as separates (i.e a sports jacket with separate pants – not part of a suit), can really help make that emphatic style statement! Courtesy of www.dmarge.com
Conversely, single breasted jackets can be worn across a range of settings.
Choosing Single Breasted vs Double Breasted Jackets
Given the aforementioned characteristics of the single vs double breasted suit, we would suggest the following guidelines when deciding between the two:
Single Breasted Jacket
- If you are looking for a classic, every day tailoring
- Looking for a versatile jacket that can be worn across a range of functions. Single Breasted Sports Jackets or Blazers can also work with chinos or dark denim.
- Opting for a suit with a slimming effect. For most body types, a single breasted jacket does the trick, as it helps increased perceived vertical lines (with the exception of taller, more moderately athletic looking men, where a double breasted jacket does just enough to accentuate shoulders and minimize one’s waist, without it making the wearer look disproportionately big in the top half of his body).
Double Breasted Jacket
- Looking for something more formal, where your jacket will always be worn with suit trousers. The vintage 6 x 2 double breasted suit (specifically with matching jackets and trousers) is best recommended here (versus opting for a 6 x 2 double breasted jacket in a less formal capacity, as referred to below!)
- You want to emphasize masculine physical characteristics, with a focus on larger shoulders and a smaller waist, helping accentuate the perceived ‘V’ shape. As mentioned above, this should be reserved for athletic men that don’t have overtly broad shoulders – in this instance, a double breasted jacket will make the top half of your body look disproportionately large. Remember, proportions are everything!
- You are opting for an aesthetic that truly stands out. In this instance, a double breasted jacket (worn as separates, can really help set you apart, whether it’s a 6 x 2 or 4 x2 jacket).
- You have selected a classic fabric in black, grey or navy blue
And that's a wrap for this one! We hope that you have enjoyed reading this as much as we have writing it!