Whoever decided less is more clearly hadn’t considered the jacket. Not to knock single-breasted blazers, but in the being-the-best-dressed-man-in-the-room stakes, two breasts are definitely better than one.
At least, they are now. The double-breasted jacket has served its time in timeout, the smell of power dressing bankers finally scrubbed off. The new DB is for the city, not The City. Which means less structure, slimmer shapes, and any colour and pattern so long as it’s not pinstripe.
There’s even – shock horror – a double-breasted jacket you can deploy when it’s sweltering. A way to wear more fabric and yet be cooler in every single sense of the word. This season, along with shedding its fustiness, the DB has also ditched its padding for soft-shouldered, incredibly Italian takes that feel more like a fancy cardigan than something to wear on Wall Street. “An unlined jacket with a soft shoulder is far less restricting in warmer climes,” says Giles Farnham, head of River Island Style Studio.
When you need something that keeps its shape, and your cool, fabric blends are in. Whether it’s wool and cashmere, cotton and linen, or some space age polymer with a hint of silk, by doubling up you get that all-important drape and lustre, without the sheen spreading to your face. “You don’t want a fabric which is going to be too warm or bulky, as the double-breasted blazer is best worn buttoned up,” says Ollie Arnold, style director at Mr Porter. On which note, first fasten the anchor button – that’s the one inside – then the middle button. Then find something else to do with your hands.
Not that buttoned up means, well, buttoned up. Worn right, the new DB is a utility piece that dresses down even better than up. “The key mistake people make with a utility double-breasted jacket is wearing formal underpinnings,” says Arnold. Your dad combined his with spread collars and tie knots the size of a baby’s fist. But yours looks best with soft button-downs, knitted ties, fine-gauge roll necks, even a round-necked Breton shirt.
At least, it does if you leave boxy shapes to Gordon Gekko. “Find a jacket which is tailored shorter in the body and with broad peak lapels to give you the most flattering fit,” says Arnold. “The double-breasted blazer should accentuate the chest and slim down the waist, to give you a sharper silhouette.” But learn the difference between fitted and skintight. “Otherwise it will pull and look messy.”
And while ideally you’d own a clutch of double-breasted blazers to suit wherever you end up this summer, the utility DB is so adaptable that, really, you only need one. So long as the colour is as versatile as the style. “Go for lighter, neutral shades of beige, khaki, or stone,” says Farnham. Blue is another safe option, but consider lightening up. “Try a chambray-style cotton as opposed to that City boy-style dark navy. And at all costs avoid black. It sucks up heat and will be unbearable.”
5 New Ways To Wear The DB This Season
Double-Breasted Jacket + Chinos + Knitted Tie
There’s a time and place for the double-breasted suit, and it’s not when the pavements are melting. If client meetings mean you can’t go full Friday casual then ditch the matching trousers and step into lightweight cotton chinos.
These mismatched separates offer double benefits; your pins stay cool and your look stays the right side of stuffy. A neutral jacket can be teamed with any shade of strides, but to ensure top and toe mesh, reflect your trousers’ tone in your tie’s recessive colour. It’s business wear with added breeziness.
Double-Breasted Jacket + Air Tie + Lightwash Denim
A blazer and jeans is the smart-casual default, a proven pairing in the sweet spot between night and day, office and bar. Hence why that bar’s flocked with guys all dressed the same, in navy jackets and darker denim.
To make sure you’re the one the barman sees, bring the double-breasted blazer’s boardroom power to bear after dark. As your top half steps up, counter down below, with denim that looks a little more lived-in. Your outfit’s smart-casual average doesn’t shift. But the overall look is poles apart.
Double-Breasted Jacket + Breton Shirt + Chinos
The double-breasted jacket, with its strong lapels and sharp V, creates all the lines those skipped chest days haven’t. But to double (or is that triple?) the effect, you need to earn your stripes.
The Breton shirt is that prototypically French piece; at once relaxed yet dressy enough to work anywhere. It’s a Riviera staple that, in the city, says “make it quick, my car to Nice is waiting”. Or, when you upgrade the jacket to a DB, “my jet”. Just don’t let anyone see the travelcard in your breast pocket.
Tommy Hilfiger SS14
Double-Breasted Suit + Sweater + Trainers
When you strip away all the padding, the banker stripes and the rump-covering cuts, you’re left with a double-breasted suit that seems to be a suit almost by accident. Which means you can forgo the traditional accoutrements and slip into something more comfortable, like a lived-in sweater and some sleek minimal trainers.
But, of course, you are still wearing a suit. And because it’s double-breasted, people will assume your high-low thing is because you own the company. And you can dress however you damn well like.
Brunello Cucinelli SS16
Double-Breasted Jacket + T-shirt + Shorts
Shorts are, for most men, a sign of sartorial surrender. The sun has come, so your wardrobe withers in the quest for cool. Enter the unstructured DB, a way to tackle temperatures and dress codes.
Don’t be tempted by the double-breasted short suit – that red carpet move has slayed greater men. Just keep the shorts knee-length and as slimline as your blazer. Dressed-up short shorts are a cry for help.
Zara Summer 2015