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Why were double-breasted jackets invented?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Can anyone point me to some history on why/where/when double-breasted jackets were introduced? They've always seemed unnecessarily fussy to me.

I'd like to know the full story, but in the meantime, it seems to me that they must have been invented so that the wearer could button either right over left, or left over right, depending upon .... what?

Was it some sort of social indicator? Lower classes buttoned right over left; higher classes left over right? Or perhaps buttoning right over left (as in women's suits today) indicated a sexual preference? ... Just askin', folks.

A related question: How did buttoning left over right become the "standard" for men's jackets and shirts?

As you can see, I've got a lot to learn. Any help appreciated.
post #2 of 19
From my knowledge, DB comes from the british navy captain's referee jacket.
post #3 of 19
May be apocryphal but as more people are right handed I read that left over right made for unfettered access for a right hander to reach across and draw his sword carried on the left. If a naval officer is carrying a cutlass into battle that would tie in with the nautical angle too.
post #4 of 19

I hate single breasted jackets. All my bespoke jackets are double breasted.

post #5 of 19
It's easy to say why button L over R - its easier for a right handed person. Amies repeats the sword thing in his book though.

Why women button the other way is more of a mystery. You'll hear some people say that it's because women are dressed by another woman while a man dresses himself, but this makes little sense to me. How many women buying RTW clothing are really dressed by someone else? Maybe on the back of a dress or something I could see it, but for a shirt or jacket front seems weird. I think it's probably just something that developed to quickly and easily help everyone distinguish between men's and women's clothing.

On the DB in general, Amies also claims the reefer jacket as ancestor of the modern DB lounge jacket. But it was hardly the first DB coat. The frock coat was also often double breasted, as well as tail coats (the eventual tail coat is double breasted but can't be closed).

Beau Brummell:

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_jXNyvNsF2To/TQOnWRfILVI/AAAAAAAAEdc/w1R2eOCFNow/s1600/beau_brummell.jpg

Even riding coats could be double breasted. If anything, single breasted is the more modern development. I can't really think of a pre-1900 jacket that was never made double breasted. Military uniforms were often DB:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Major_General_John_Tupper.JPG

US Civil War generals:
http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=civil+war+generals&FORM=HDRSC2#

George III:

http://www.britishbattles.com/images/king-george-iii.jpg
post #6 of 19
Oh, and as far as I know there's no evidence of DBs made with the intention of being worn either L over R or R over L.
post #7 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by unbelragazzo View Post

It's easy to say why button L over R - its easier for a right handed person. Amies repeats the sword thing in his book though.

Why women button the other way is more of a mystery. You'll hear some people say that it's because women are dressed by another woman while a man dresses himself, but this makes little sense to me. How many women buying RTW clothing are really dressed by someone else? Maybe on the back of a dress or something I could see it, but for a shirt or jacket front seems weird. I think it's probably just something that developed to quickly and easily help everyone distinguish between men's and women's clothing.

Not a mystery at all.

Wealthy ladies would not dream of dressing themselves and had 'dressers' to do that menial task for them. Hence the buttoning arrangements which then became the norm, It has nothing whatever to do with RTW, that came far later.
.
post #8 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by add911_11 View Post

From my knowledge, DB comes from the british navy captain's referee jacket.

Reefer jacket
Edited by GBR - 5/9/13 at 4:57am
post #9 of 19
^^if that's your explanation, then gentleman were dressed by their valets too. I've heard this explanation plenty before and it's never made much sense to me.
post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by GBR View Post

Refer jacket

Reefer jacket
post #11 of 19
I wonder if it's much more difficult to button that way once you get used to it?
post #12 of 19
And the reason why I mention RTW is that the vast majority of clothing today is RTW, and yet still it all buttons that way for ladies. But I'd be willing to accept the argument that, at first it was meant to mimic bespoke, and then there was a lockin effect from it being easier to button the way that you're used to buttoning.
post #13 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by GBR View Post

Not a mystery at all.

Wealthy ladies would not dream of dressing themselves and had 'dressers' to do that menial task for them. Hence the buttoning arrangements which then became the norm, It has nothing whatever to do with RTW, that came far later.
.

This and also i recall something about how they were seated side saddle on horses and the button configuration prevented the wind blowing into their jackets
post #14 of 19
sorry for the mistake
post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by add911_11 View Post

sorry for the mistake


No need to apologise, I can't spell either it seems
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