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Essential Classics: The Double Breasted Suit

The double-breasted suit is not a look for the faint of heart. Once a staple in every well-dressed man’s wardrobe, the double-breasted coat is now a more elusive creature. It’s not every modern man who can pull off the sartorial splendor of two corresponding rows of buttons, but those who can belong in a category all their own. Modern DB suits are slimmer than their predecessors, but just as powerful and elegant as ever.


Buttons and buttonholes came into fashion in the 13th and 14th centuries when draped and pinned garments, like as cloaks and gowns, were replaced by tailored clothing. To maintain the symmetry of the garment, a parallel line of buttons was added to the opposite side and the double-breasted coat was born.

Polite society adopted the DB coat as its uniform around 1860, but its real heyday didn’t come until the 20th century. In the 1930s, fashionable men turned to the double-breasted coat until post-war cloth rationing lead to a large reduction in the popularity of many cuts. By the mid-1980s, snug-fitting suits were on their way out and DB coats were once again at the forefront of the fashion world.

Eventually the 80s ‘power suit’ went out of style, and with it the sharp cuts, shoulder pads, and DB coats that had come to define it. The double-breasted suit lay dormant for many years, resigned to being associated with brassy 30s mobsters and cocky 80s investment bankers.

Now, slowly but surely, the DB coat is making a comeback amongst the style set. The modern double-breasted suit creates a subtler, more contemporary silhouette with a slimmer fit and shorter length. Wide peak lapels, higher armholes, and trimmer sleeves give today’s DB coats a cleaner, sharper look.

In Popular Culture

Did someone say Gatsby? Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby was one of the biggest things to hit the silver screen this year, and with it came a slew of drool-worthy DB suits. Try Brooks Brothers if you want the Jay Gatsby look – they made all of DiCaprio’s costumes. The double-breasted coat also made a major splash this year during Spring Fashion Week at Pitti Uomo, in Florence, Italy.

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