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Double-Breasted Jackets: The Third Age

Double-Breasted Jackets: The Third Age

Double-breasted suit jackets were popular from the 1930s through the 1950s, and then they all but disappeared. They came back in a minor way in the 1980s and petered out again in the early 2000s. Now DBs are having a third age, and they’re truly better than before.

Is the DB right for you? If your impulse is to say “no,” you may need to shed some mental baggage associated with the sartorial past. The mobster suits of Al Capone. Richard Gere in American Gigolo. Neither is your bag, man. But the new double-breasted jackets are a far cry from the boxy and slouchy garments of yesteryear. Today’s DB jackets fit closer to the body and are shorter in length. If you’re reasonably fit, a DB jacket will look youthful, masculine and flattering on you.

At June’s Pitti Uomo show in Florence, the world’s most influential menswear event, DB jackets were everywhere. The coolest way to wear one is not as part of a suit but as a separate blazer. Try pairing one with jeans and brown shoes. Looking good!


This gentleman has mastered the geometry of dressing well. Note how his eyeglass frames echo the angle of his peak lapels, while his semi-spread shirt collar reverses the angle. Sharp! No need for a vibrant necktie or pocket square here.


This man’s DB jacket fits impeccably and plays well off the blue jeans, but his selection of a wimpy shirt and tie is detracting from the look. A spread collar would have been more appropriate, so the collar points wouldn’t be visible between the jacket lapels. A more substantial necktie with a bulkier knot would go well with the spread-collar shirt.


Is this man trying too hard? With his untied bow, low buttoned shirt, chestful of medals and erupting pocket handkerchief, there’s just too much going on. A DB suit needs less embellishment than a single-breasted suit.


This man gets points for trying. Nice jacket! But the self-conscious patches on the jeans and the droopy belt take sprezzatura a little too far.


Here we see a DB suit worn well. He accents it simply with a high Italian spread collar, a discreet tie with a chunky knot and a plain handkerchief. The sunglasses and unruly mane of hair reek of Italian cool.

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