The peak lapel of a double breasted suit.

The peak lapel of a double breasted suit.

It has been a few years since I have worn a double breasted suit.  In the early 1990s, that ‘s the only design of suit that I wore and felt comfortable in.  Every suit I owned was a double breasted.   For many years now I have been wearing single breasted suits.  Periodically, I would come into contact with a “DB “ suit and would try it on and look in the mirror.  This would usually occur at a clothing factory or showroom where there were samples available to try.  The suit felt comfortable and has a commanding presence about it.  

A well-made double breasted suit has six buttons on the front that can be seen.  On the interior there is a hidden, single lower button used to connect the other side of the jacket to the interior to hold the balance of the jacket in place.  Have you ever seen David Letterman walk on the stage when he only has the interior button buttoned and the outside unbuttoned?  The outer part of the jacket just flips open and stays in that position.  He used to do it during his monologue.  These days he is wearing single breasted suits, but I digress.   Double breasted suits tend to shift on the body when the interior button is not used.   This is also the reason why “DB” suits look better when they are worn in the closed position. 

On the exterior of the jacket there are also two button holes.  The button holes are on the same side, one above the other.  These button holes line up with two buttons placed on the other side of the jacket.  A double breasted design with six buttons showing and two buttons holes is called a “6 on 2” or “6x2” “DB”.  After fastening the interior button, you have a choice to close the upper exterior button or both the upper and lower exterior buttons.  The method to wearing a double breasted suit jacket is to close the upper exterior button.  When the lower button is left open it allows for more comfort and less constriction when moving and sitting.   A very important point about a “DB” suit is that it should always have peak lapels.  Peak lapels rise up to a point or “peak” on either side of the jacket.

The double breasted suit is a powerful looking suit and commands a room if it fits well.  It is the most difficult suit to manufacture in terms of proper tailoring and there aren’t too many companies that get it right.  The “DB” is not in main stream today, but is fashionable.  Many manufacturers are showing it in their shows and collections.  Why are they showing it?  Because it has been out of favor for quite some time and they feel it is time to create a new version of what was.  The double breasted is now the fashion suit, slimmer and shorter in length.  Some have very narrow lapels and some designers have created extra wide lapels.  Designers are putting out their feelers to see the public reaction.   It will catch on again one day.  Everything in menswear gets recycled to some extent.  If you keep something in your closet long enough for it to go out of fashion, one day it will be back in fashion.