Musings on the Double-Breasted Suit

Aurore de la Morinerie

Few clothing choices speak as loudly as a bespoke suit.

The Bespokist contends that there is no more resonant a sartorial statement a man can make than that conveyed by the presence and prestige of a beautifully cut, bench-made double-breasted suit. Power dressing, anyone?

Way back when, it’s safe to assume that the double-breasted jacket was conceived not so much for style as for warmth. Moreover, as is the case with much else good and noble in a gent’s raiment, further association can be made to the horse, that good and noble beast. (Or, more accurately, to those dashing cavalry hussars puffing out their chests to better display a double row of polished brass buttons.)

This notion, wherein a more heroic breadth of shoulder, fulsome chest and unabashedly narrow waist most clearly manifests the masculine ideal, has certainly stood the test of time.

Perhaps this helps explain why the Italians, with their innate love of the uniform—Roman mounted polizia, Florentine firefighters, Milanese meter-readers, etc.—seem, especially now, in this season’s return-to-DB dominance, to excel at the whole business. La bella figura? Si, certo.

So, if the DB is nothing less than the ne plus ultra of masculine authority, who in this second decade of the 21st century should sport so perfect a specimen of the tailor’s art? Rest assured, all are worthy.

To put to rest one particularly nettling misconception, the shorter, stouter or slighter among us need only direct their attention to so physically diverse a group as Bogie, Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre.

By the way, your humble Bespokist has been known, on occasion, to add a double-breasted waistcoat to the mix. What bit of theater could be more droll than to offhandedly open a double-breasted jacket and unveil an eight-button DB waistcoat beneath? But be warned: Since such a gambit assures the breathless admiration of the fairer sex, it’s just as certain to earn the everlasting ire of their unfortunately upstaged, single-breasted, white-bellied escorts.

But then, to what more might one aspire?

Editor’s Picks

Gucci two-button jacket in navy wales flannel with velvet under-collar detail ($2,490; gucci.com). Giorgio Armani eight-button sweater jacket in charcoal-gray wool ($1,175; armani.com). Bottega Veneta ten-button tourmaline jacket in navy wool caban with shearling collar ($2,950; bottegaveneta.com).