If you're eager to get dressed up again, you're not alone. Folks are returning to suits in droves, citing relaxed office rules and dropped dress codes as the reason. When there's no one forcing you into a stuffy suit, the idea of wearing one becomes a little more appealing. Plus, brands are making better ones than ever — ones rich with texture, tailored just right and covered in all-over patterns or stripes.
The version at the center of the style's resurgence is the double-breasted suit, a classic-looking ensemble than can be easily adapted to suit — pun intended — the wearer's personal style.
Best Overall Double-Breasted SuitRalph Lauren The Morehouse Collection Suit Read More
Best Upgrade Double-Breasted SuitDrake's Prince of Wales Double-Breasted Suit Read More
Best Affordable Double-Breasted SuitJ.Crew Double-Breasted Ludlow Suit Read More
Hawes and Curtis Chalk Stripe Double Breasted Suit Read More
Reiss Shade Slim Fit Double Breasted Suit Read More
What Is a Double-Breasted Suit?
A double-breasted suit is any suit with an overlapping front and buttons on both sides — whether in a 6x2 (meaning six total in two columns), 4x2 (4 total in two columns) or 4x1 (4 total in 4 columns) configuration. They're visually quite different from single-breasted suits, which have been the norm since suits were invented.
Double-breasted patterns were initially reserved for frock coats — essentially overcoats — as far back as the 19th century. Single-breasted was the standard for everyday suits, which men, at least back then, really did wear every day. Double-breasted frock coats eventually turned into Reefer Jackets, the English equivalent of Peacoats. They had high collars that were turned up, double-breasted fronts and cropped hems.
Then, double-breasted jackets were designed for sports — but the British kind, not basketball. By the 1930s, men everywhere — including those on-screen — entertained the style as everyday attire. They weren't as popular as single-breasted suits, but they appealed to those who wanted to take things a step further. Double-breasted suits eventually became synonymous with high society, even if they were never truly considered the most formal of options — the tuxedo always trumped it.
Now, double-breasted suits are fun. They're just different enough to appeal to folks who've grown bored of basic single-breasted suits. They often come in exciting patterns, with wide, peaked lapels and contrasting buttons.
How Much Should You Spend?
It's important to understand what sort of constraints your budget will put on the final product. There are really two camps: $500-and-under and $500-to-$1,200 (and beyond). There are obviously differences in how a suit is made at both price points, so it’s best to set this metric first, before researching brands.
Both ranges will ultimately exclude luxe, completely custom and hand-made suits, you can still find a solid suit in the sub-$1,200, even sub-$500 range. Double-breasted suits are harder to find for under $500, but they're out there.
That being said, you're probably buying it off-the-rack versus made-to-measure. If you decide to buy a stock suit, which you will probably have to if you're working with a tight budget, it's well worth your money to invest in a few alterations to personalize your suit to your body shape.
At the-$1,200 price range, there are a number of brands that offer made-to-measure programs, which means they'll alter a stock pattern to your specific measurements before assembling. While these suits boast a superior fit from the first wear, the final quality obviously ranges from brand to brand. Made-to-measure isn't automatically better.
"If somebody wants to do [made-to-measure] they should go to a real tailor, not to a salesperson that just knows how to measure," Sam Wazin, a respected tailor in New York City, told us for our broader guide to affordable suits. "A salesperson wants it to fit you — shoulders, sleeve length, waist and length in the pants — but a tailor thinks about the details."
The Best Double-Breasted Suits for Men
Ralph Lauren Morehouse Collection Suit
Designed exclusively for, and modeled by students from, Morehouse College, a prestigious historically Black college in Atlanta, Ralph Lauren's Morehouse Collection suit features a double-breasted front, a classic, kind-of-dropped fit, high arm holes, peak lapels and genuine horn buttons. It has a double vent and a 100 percent wool exterior, as well as a half-canvassed inside, which will help the jacket form to your body with wear.
Drake's Prince of Wales Double-Breasted Suit
You'll commonly find both Prince of Wales check and Prince of Wales suits in the style world, references to a type of pattern and the silhouette earlier UK princes wore — like Prince George, Duke of Kent. As Drake's puts it, "the Prince of Wales check, or Glenurquhart Estate Check to use the proper name, is synonymous with the royalty from which its moniker originates."
Theirs uses the famous pattern to lend flair to its half-canvassed, 100 percent wool double-breasted suit. This one is longer than Ralph Lauren's, and it's unlined, but it still flatters through the midsection. It's made in Italy with a 6x2 button front and soft shoulders.
J.Crew Double-Breasted Ludlow Suit
The standard version of J.Crew's Ludlow suit is a best-seller. It's basic, good-looking and fairly affordable — a combination that makes it right just about everybody, no matter their budget. But there's also a double-breasted version: It's slim-fitting to flatter most figures, lined and made from wool sourced from Vitale Barberis Canonico, a family-run mill established in 1663 in Biella, Italy. It's a light, smoky black the brand calls Cigar.
Hawes and Curtis Chalk Stripe Double Breasted Suit
The Chalk Stripe on Hawes and Curtis's navy double-breasted suit lends a sort of wayback Wall Street look — like the movie Wolf of Wall Street, even. It'd fit the bill, too, with its fine super 100s wool construction, classic peak lapel, corozo nut buttons and 6x2 button configuration. This one is lined — 55 percent polyester, 45 percent viscose — and it's slim-fitting through the torso and shoulders.
Reiss Shade Slim Fit Double Breasted Suit
Reiss's rendition of the double-breasted suit borrows its look from a standard, single-breasted ensemble, with its flat texture, lightweight, loosely-folded lapels and its tonal buttons. The texture comes courtesy of its construction, which is lyocell, polyester and linen on the outside and polyester and viscose inside. Don't let the cocktail of fabrics freak you out, though. This is a long-lasting suit with a fine feel.
Indochino Howell Wool Stretch Gray Suit
Indochino's Howell Suit is sold together, a claim only this brand and Husbands Paris can make. Most others are sold as separates. Why? Well to allow for greater personalization in how it fits, because none of these are made-to-measure. This one, though, comes from Indochino's Luxury Collection, an assortment of finer suits made from better fabrics. These suits also perform better, too: There's added nanomaterial technology and spandex, making this suit slightly stretchy and wrinkle-resistant.
Customizations can be made as well. You're offered an option of half-canvassed or unconstructed, standard, roped or soft shoulders and a variety of lapels — plus, your choice of chest pockes, vents, buttons, pockets, liners and monograms.
Oliver Spencer Slim-Fit Linen Double-Breasted Suit
It's never fun to wear a full suit in the dead of summer, but Oliver Spencer's lightweight double-breasted suit has the potential to make any wedding, whether you're baking on a beach or melting on a terrace, comfortable. Its linen construction, double vent and cotton-acetate lining help let air in. There are three colors, too — brown for a nighttime affair, cream for a mid-day ceremony and blue for the bolder balls.
River Island Striped Double Breasted Suit
In total, this River Island suit costs $255. You should always temper your expectations with suits this cheap, but this iteration proves price and quality aren't always intertwined. That being said, no, this isn't a Savile Row stunner, but it is plenty passable for most folks and the places they need a suit for. Plus, the Grey Marl base with white Chalk Stripes is super-good-looking, especially because of the way it fits, which isn't quite oversized but straight-fitting — like good jeans.
They also make it in all-white.
What to Know Before Buying
Where the Nearest Tailor Is
"If you have the option to find a tailor shop that does alterations and not dry cleaning, it says something about their business and business model," J. Mueser founder Jake Mueser says. "If they’ve built a business on only altering clothing, they’re probably better on it than a place that built their business on dry cleaning and then added in one tailor. Because, really, that tailor is there to sew buttons back on shirts and hem pants. Not to reconstruct a jacket."
Your Suiting Terminology
These slits are cut into the back of a suit jacket. Traditionally, you will find a single vent that sits on the middle seam of the jacket or a double vent — the two slits offer mobility on either side of the torso.
This is the most expensive type of suit because a new pattern is created for the individual customer. Small nuances in their body are accounted for, and as such, the fit is often the best.
Functional Button Holes
This refers to the buttons on jacket cuffs actually being usable, not simply decorative. As a cost-cutting measure, many manufacturers will sew buttons on a sleeve where buttonholes are not open. If you have a jacket like this, a tailor can alter it to be functional.
The hemline of many suits is left unfinished and you need to have it tailored to your liking. First, you must decide if you want your trousers to have a slight break, a full break or no break. Trousers with no break stop around the ankle area (or higher) and don’t bunch up. Trousers with a slight break or medium break will hit the top of your shoes and slightly bunch on themselves. Trousers with a full break rest on top of your shoes and bunch up on themselves. If a trouser is unhemmed, you may also choose to have a cuff or no cuff (your choice here can complement your suit jacket).
The two flaps of fabric that sit beneath the collar of your suit jacket. They typically come in three different styles: notched, peak and shawl collar. A notched lapel has a triangular cut-out at the upper chest where the lapel meets the jacket collar. A peaked lapel is generally more formal. The lapel is wider than the jacket collar and forms a ‘peak’ where the two meet. Unlike the others, a shawl collar is typically only found on tuxedos and extends from the collar with no peak or notch.
Made to Measure
With this style of suit, a brand modifies its standard patterns to better suit the customer’s body. A customer’s measurements are sent to the manufacturer to produce the suit, and the result is much better fitting than ready-to-wear options.
The pockets on a suit jacket come in a range of styles that fit different settings. A jet pocket is a simple pocket sewn into the suit lining with an unadorned slit opening — it is the most formal. In a similar style, a flap pocket just adds an extra flap of fabric that hangs over the pocket opening. A welt pocket, similar to a jet pocket, is finished with an extra piece of fabric around the opening which reinforces the pocket. The most casual pocket is the patch pocket, sewn onto the exterior of the jacket like a patch would be.
Ready to Wear (RTW)
This refers to an off-the-rack suit that is not adjusted to your body’s measurements.
Trouser Seat and Rise
The seat of a trouser typically refers to the width and the rise refers to the distance between the crotch and the waistband. The rise dictates where your pants will sit between the waist and the hips.
Fused or Glued
In order to produce more affordable suit jackets, brands sometimes glue a fusible interlining to the fabric of the suit. This is far less expensive than hand-stitching a canvas inside the jacket and does help to keep the jacket’s shape. Over time, though, the interlining can become unstuck, giving the jacket an appearance of bubbling or rippling. This jacket also won’t conform to your body over time like jackets with traditional horsehair canvases, and it is less flexible in day-to-day wear.
In this style of construction, a fusible interlining runs the length of the coat, but the material is stitched to a canvas that covers the chest and extends to the top of the pockets. This partial canvassing gives the jacket a more natural shape that helps it age.
The full-canvas construction relies on a canvas that runs the entire length of the jacket. The fabric is stitched directly to the canvas and the jacket will move with you as you wear it. It will also age more gracefully than fused or half canvas styles because canvas distributes tension at stress points like the shoulders and chest, and allows the suit to breathe.
Unconstructed or Unstructured or Unlined
As the name implies, this jacket has no interlining. It is the most casual type of construction. It is not designed to hang like a traditional suit jacket and the outer fabric conforms to your body and drapes naturally.
Learn more about suiting fabrics here.