The modern double-breasted suit: Italian style for 6×2 and 4×2 button jackets

After being a prerogative of tailors and a selected circle of customers for a long time, now the modern double-breasted suit has come back. However, forget about those stiff and strict pieces that could be found in the closet of any gentleman in the past decades.

The all-time men’s formal wear has been simplified, slimmed down, and shortened, and has now made a stylish comeback as a favourite on the metropolitan streets of the world.

What is a double-breasted suit?

A double-breasted suit is a jacket, mostly intended for men. It has overlapping front lapels and two columns of buttons. The term “double-breasted suit” normally refers to the whole garment: double-breasted jacket, and trousers. Jacket, blazers, coat, and trench coats can all be double-breasted.

History

The original double-breasted jacket had six buttons, only three of which could be fastened. It was inspired by the XVIII century’s reefer jackets worn by the military. To accommodate shorter men, a four-button version was created. 

The favourite model of the last century is the so-called “Kent” – named after the Duke of Kent who created it: a four-button double-breasted jacket, where lapels are rolled and only the bottom button is fastened. Prince Edward, the Duke of Windsor, made it famous

Il Duca di Windsor indossa un doppiopetto 4x2.
The Duke of Windsor wearing a double-breasted jacket

A charming and subversive look, tailored with casual care and never ostentatious; the lapels extend to the waistline, bringing out the shoulders and creating the illusion of height. 

Double-breasted suits have been popular from the mid-1930s up to mid-century and later they’ve come back in the mid-1980s and have stayed in vogue until mid-1990s. They were boxy and square, the jacket was extra long, and the lapels were really wide.

Thanks to modern icons of style, such as the movie star Eddie Redmayne, the famed David Backham, and Sir David Bowie, the double-breasted suit has made a huge comeback, looking cooler and more relevant than ever.

Eddie Redmayne indossa un abito doppiopetto 6x3.
Eddie Redmayne wearing a double-breasted suit

Features

MTM double-breasted jacket by Lanieri

Fashion is constantly evolving, and fashion shows follow one another all the time: spring/summer, pre-fall, fall/winter, besides an ever-growing number of “capsule collections”. Change is a daily occurrence, and most of men’s staple clothing items – such as the iconic double-breasted suit – have changed over time. 

The modern Italian double-breasted suit looks sharper and slimmer in comparison with older versions. The jacket is cut close and is shorter, which provides a more modern and slender look thanks to the different ratio between the width of the chest and the length of the torso. 

Here is a list to help you identify the most important models of double-breasted suits.

The buttons

Italian double-breasted suits generally come with two columns of buttons, the number of which can vary depending on the jacket. What doesn’t vary, is that only one column of buttons is functional, that is, it can actually be fastened. The second column of buttons is just ornamental. The button stance is referred to in the form AxB, where A is the total number of buttons, and B the number of buttons that can be fastened. 

The inside middle button must be kept fastened at all times, so that the jacket keeps its look and shape – although the tycoon Aristotele Onassis used to leave it open in order to convey a studied carelessness.

Double-breasted suit with 2 buttons

2×1 double-breasted jacket

The double-breasted jacket 2×1 isn’t much used today, but it’s really appreciated by high fashion experts. It fits in less formal contexts, it’s both casual and classy.

Double-breasted suit with 4 buttons

4×2 double-breasted jacket

The most traditional button stance. The double-breasted jacket 4×2 is very comfortable and it’s perfect for your free time or a not-so-formal business meeting.

Double-breasted suit with 6 buttons

6×2 double-breasted jacket

Never mind the exceedingly creative models of the past few years. The 6×2 is the most eclectic double-breasted suit, perfectly appropriate for your formal business meetings. This model comes with 6 buttons, only 2 of which can be fastened, and it’s the most worn double-breasted model.

Less common and yet still very interesting for the high fashion fans is the 6×1: not quite suitable for formal occasions, it’s perfect for a refined free time.

Lapels

Pointed lapels on Lanieri jacket

There will always be differences depending on the brand, or the maison tailoring the suit, however, the Italian double-breasted suit has typically peak lapels. The tips of the peaked lapels are pointed up, towards the shoulders. Depending on their width, they can actually almost reach the shoulders.   

Lapels are important: they give the double-breasted jacket its unmistakable look. The double stance and the peaked lapels bring out the chest and shoulders, bestowing a slender look on the wearer.

Buttons

Resin, horn or metal buttons

If you’re looking for a double-breasted jacket for your business wardrobe, we suggest horn buttons in the shade of your suit’s colour. However, if you wish to find the right suit for your free time, you can be creative and choose a contrasting colour, or even metal buttons – why not?

Fabric, colour, and pattern

When it comes to Italian double-breasted suits there aren’t fabrics or colours that are better than others. However, some patterns are to be preferred. Pinstripe and herringbone are perfect for double-breasted suits, because they enhance the slendering effect. A macro over-check pattern and any plain colour are eclectic and suitable for various occasions.

How to wear and pair your double-breasted jacket

Without a doubt, a single-breasted jacket is more manageable than a double-breasted. However, not only does a double-breasted jacket suit smoothly any occasion. It is also quite special, both original and providing a bit of a dandy look. 

When it comes to properly wearing a double-breasted jacket, the same rules apply as for any other jacket: the middle button must be fastened, or the top and middle one. 

Not all agree on the proper way to sit in a double-breasted jacket: some claim the jacket must be unbuttoned; others suggest that it must be kept buttoned up, in order to prevent creases.

Is the double-breasted jacket for everyone?

Men who aren’t very tall, are stout, or have a short torso are often recommended not to wear a double-breasted jacket. Don’t give in: you just need to pick the perfect pattern and an appropriate number of buttons. The only men who wouldn’t be flattered by a double-breasted jacket are those with particularly wide hips. 

What is really crucial with a double-breasted jacket, is the tailoring: if anything in a men’s wardrobe has to be custom-made, that’s a double-breasted jacket.

Double or single-breasted?

Lanieri double-breasted suit (left) and single-breasted suit (right)

An Italian double-breasted suit might be too much for a first job interview. However, if it makes you feel comfortable, it is a perfect choice both for your everyday attire in the office and a special occasion such as a wedding (for the groom or the best men), a ceremony, a party.

Don’t forget that a double-breasted jacket mustn’t always be worn in a suit, it is a perfectly fashionable jacket all by itself.

How to pair a double-breasted jacket

Men wearing @Lanieriofficial on Instagram

The double-breasted jacket is to the single-breasted as pleated trousers are to plain ones: intensely more sophisticated and polished. It’s not a look for everyone, however it’s a simple way to convey savoir faire and self-confidence. 

It can be worn in many ways: formal and discreet, with a shirt and tie in plain colour or simple pattern; creative and spontaneous, with shirt, accessories and even socks in vibrant colours and a strong character.

Trousers

What about the trousers? Trousers have been revamped as well: they’re skinnier and shorter. Pleated and with cuffs, they’ll add a touch of vintage to your look. Plain trousers are to be preferred for a more formal and discreet look.

Shirt

The choice of the shirt depends on the fabric of the jacket. In case of a double-breasted jacket, you’ll be able to pick almost any shirt: a formal, white, dobby shirt, or a casual, denim one. We have just one piece of advice: prefer a shirt with a closed collar, such as the Italian or semi-Italian: they suit the double-breasted look better.

Tie

The tie will have to be chosen depending on the fabric of your jacket, but also on the occasion. In a business context, a monochromatic pattern, tone on tone, is to be preferred.

Pocket square

Provided you’re the type of man who wears a pocket square, the options are endless. Just remember: the pocket square must be in a different fabric than the tie, although in the same colour.

The perfect Italian double-breasted suit is Lanieri

A made-to-measure double-breasted suit tailored in Italy by Lanieri

Fashion is constantly evolving, and fashion shows follow one another all the time: spring/summer, pre-fall, fall/winter, besides an ever-growing number of “capsule collections”. Change is a daily occurrence, and most of men’s staple clothing items – such as the iconic double-breasted suit – have changed over time. 

The modern Italian double-breasted suit looks sharper and slimmer (aka slim fit) in comparison with older versions. The jacket is cut close and is shorter, which provides a more modern and slender look thanks to the different ratio between chest and length of the torso. 

If you’re looking for a garment that’s both elegant and timeless, the best choice is a custom made suit. On lanieri.com you’ll get a garment designed and tailored according to your measures. It will also be unique, because it will be personalized according to your own taste and desire.

2 Comment

  1. alvin wright cleveland ohio says: Reply

    great looking pieces. would like to know where to purchase your line of clothing

    1. Lanieri says: Reply

      Hello Alvin, thanks for your comment. You can easily buy our made-to-measure pieces on lanieri.com! The new collection will be online from March 2nd. Have a great day!

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