Guide: The Debonair Double-Breasted Suit Part 2

In the second part of our article on "The making of a double-breasted suit", our bespole expert shares his secrets on how to pull off the debonair look

Wearing A Double-Breasted Suit

For both business and evening events, the double-breasted suit lends a debonair look to the wearer. While the single-breasted suit has its origins in equestrian activities, the double-breasted suit finds its stylistic roots in military attire. Traditional military suits often feature six-by-six or even eight-by-eight buttons and have an extremely high button point, showing off two parallel rows of buttons flowing down the torso. The preciseness of the two rows emphasizes military precision and order.

As such, the double-breasted suit is considered to be more formal. One should never fully unbutton a double-breasted suit while standing or sitting because this creates a sloppy look that is at odds with the formality of the suit.


In general, the middle right button should always be kept buttoned, while the lower right button can be left unbuttoned to subtly mitigate some of the suit's formality.

Indeed, the double-breasted suit, while formal, is still amenable to personal touches of flair. The Duke of Kent started the trend of leaving the top right button of his six-by-four unfastened, but fastening the bottom right button. This practice, now aptly known as the Kent style, was adopted and popularized by Prince Edward, the Duke of Windsor. The always elegant Fred Astaire even leaves the inner left button unfastened to create his favored dégagé style.

To pull off this look, the coat needs to be cut specifically for the top button to "roll over" to the bottom one. Similar to the effect created by the three-roll-to-two in a single-breasted coat, a longer lapel line is created, giving the illusion of a taller, leaner look perfect for wider men. Despite this, I would personally recommend fastening the top right button when one is sitting down to prevent the lapels from gaping "open".


Double Breasted Suit2 2 Custom

Should you want to, you can choose to wear your double-breasted suit with a waistcoat underneath. However, the waistcoat should be single-breasted and never double-breasted. And it has to be cut in such a way that its lapel line echoes that of the main coat and just peeks out, no more than three-quarters of an inch above the crossover point. As a point of interest, a single-breasted suit can be matched with either a single- or double-breasted waistcoat.


Vents are slits cut into the bottom edges of a coat to allow freedom of movement for the wearer, but they are optional. The double-breasted suit is normally made without a center vent. This is the preserve of the equestrian-derived single-breasted suit. An unvented double-breasted coat emphasizes the V shape created by the lapels and is generally preferred, though a double-vented coat looks equally elegant.

Final Note

Trying on a quality off-the-rack double-breasted suit (such as Ralph Lauren Purple Label) will help you get a feel of the style you are most comfortable with and which best suits your body shape and personality. From there, you will be better equipped to make decisions when tailoring or bespoking a double-breasted suit.

For further reading, we recommend:

Mastering the Art of Permanent Fashion
by Alan Flusser

Written by a highly respected menswear designer, this book is one of the best primers to anyone interested in the basics of traditional style for gentlemen. The book introduces the basic principles of proportion, colour & pattern coordination while illuminating how best to wear each item of clothing like shirts, suits or shoes.

Essential reading for a fan of the sartorial arts.

Browse this book at

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