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Double Breasted Suit - Big guy?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
I'm out of reasonable suiting ideas to one up my co-workers at our big trade show coming up (it doesn't take much, last year was a 3 piece suit one day and a bowtie the next)... was thinking about pulling off a double breasted...

The problem is that I am top heavy/barrel chested.

Now, I have an absolute magician for a tailor so I can alter dimensionally, but is there any way for a stocky guy to wear a double and not look like a Mafioso?
post #2 of 5
Probably not although many old duffers do.
post #3 of 5
Yes. See below from Flusser.

The Double-Breasted Suit

A major style of dress prior to World War II, was the double-breasted jacket. Indeed, in the 1930s, 50 percent of all dinner jackets purchased were double-breasted. In fact, it was the Duke of Kent, the Duke of Windsor’s brother, who was the first to appear wearing a double-breasted jacket with the bottom button buttoned and with a long, rolled lapel. It wasn’t long before other style setters, including Fred Astaire, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and others, followed suit. As a result, this became the dominant style of dress right up until World War II, when ready-made fashions took over the marketplace and, because they were less expensive and easier to produce, single-breasted jackets became far more prevalent.

Although the choice between a single- and double-breasted jacket is simply a matter of personal taste, there is no well- dressed man who doesn’t have several double-breasted jackets in his wardrobe. This coat is undeniably dressier and, as in the case of pleated trousers, gives a slightly more sophisticated look to the wearer.

If one elects to wear a double-breasted jacket, one must keep the jacket buttoned, though there is a choice between buttoning the bottom button or the middle button (but never both). Buttoning only the bottom button gives the wearer a longer line and especially favors the shorter man. Contrary to popular misconceptions, almost anyone except someone exceptionally broad in the hips can wear a double-breasted jacket and look well if the jacket is cut properly. In the 1930s, some of the most elegantly attired Brazilian diplomats, none of whom were taller than five feet six inches, wore double-breasted clothing and it did nothing to mar their appearance. In fact, one of the advantages of double-breasted clothing, especially for the shorter man, is that the uninterrupted line of the lapel, when buttoned on the lower button, can make a man look somewhat taller, as it cuts diagonally across the body. On the other hand, buttoning the middle or waist button can break up the length of a tall man, thereby balancing him somewhat better.

With the exception of shawl-collared evening jackets, double-breasted jackets should always have peaked lapels. The notched lapels of recent vogue are an abomination and a boon only to manufacturers who produce them less expensively. Traditionally, each lapel took a buttonhole. (In Europe they have dropped the right buttonhole). Historically, the wearer took advantage of this arrangement to close up his jacket. Today, they are merely an aesthetic necessity, since without them the jacket appears unbalanced. For much the same reason, the double-breasted jacket should be double-vented, though a non- vented jacket is also proper.
post #4 of 5
Charles Laughton approves:

(From "The Big Clock" -- superb movie!)
post #5 of 5
Big hips and arse - problem.

Barrel chest - no problem.
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