How It Should Fit: The Double-Breasted Jacket

January 15th, 2015

Today we take a closer look at the double-breasted jacket as part of our “How It Should Fit” series for Menswear 101.

Here’s how it should fit.

    What is a Good Fit?

    A proper fitting garment flatters the body by contouring its natural lines. The garment should be cut as close to the body as possible without causing any pulling, wrinkling or stress areas on the fabric. You’re looking for a clean drape that showcases and enhances the natural form of the body. The fitting of a double-breasted jacket should follow the same rules as the single-breasted jacket.

    mensstyledbjacket (1 of 4)


    The shoulder lines of the jacket should correspond with your natural shoulder width. Beyond the shoulder seam the sleeve line should move downward immediately, not protrude outward beyond the seam (this is too small). Alternatively, there should be no “hang-time” or “lip” of the shoulder pad protruding over the arm line (this is too big). Traditionally a DB, which is considered more formal than a single breasted jacket, was built with a structured shoulder and a slightly roping. Today, however, they come in are all shapes and sizes including our favorite, the “natural” unpadded shoulder.


    The jacket collar should hug the shirt collar all the way around the neck, with no gapping. There should be about about 1/2″-3/4″ of shirt collar showing above the back of the jacket, with a smooth upper back (no collar roll). With ideal proportions, the shirt collar points should also be neatly tucked under the jacket lapels.


    The front chest should be clean and neat. If the jacket is too large in the chest there will be a “pooling” or “lump” of extra fabric sitting in front of the armholes. If the chest is too small, the lapels will pull open and not lay flat, and there will likely be pulling/wrinkling in the sleeves beginning from the bottom of the armholes.


    A double-breasted jacket should be slightly longer than a single-breasted, to avoid looking “boxy” and stretch the silhouette. The back panel of the jacket should drop slightly below the bottom of the seat, and the front should just pass the crotch line of the trousers. As far as front/back balance, the jacket should be perfectly parallel and level to the ground (not “hiked up” in the front or back).

    mensstyledbjacket (2 of 4)


    This is an important part of the cut of a double-breasted jacket. I find that many DBs have too much allowance in the midsection, causing them to look boxy rather than flatter the physique. The midsection of the jacket should be as trim as possible without causing any pulling at the button – you should be getting the same “slimming” effects as a slim fit single-breasted jacket. The button stance is the narrowest part of the jacket, and therefore should be aligned with the smallest part of your torso for maximum suppression.


    Speaking of the button stance, just as you would leave the bottom button of a single-breasted jacket open, you should also leave the bottom button of a DB unfastened, this gives a stuffy look a little nonchalance and allows the fabric to drape freely. With that said, one button that should always remain fastened is the interior stomach button which holds the underside front panel in place (so it doesn’t droop down at the hemline). This button can be a little tricky to fasten, just remember than the button itself should be laying flat against your stomach.


    At the bottom of the jacket you’re looking for full coverage, with the vents laying straight and flat. Too small and the vents will pull open, too large and the the hem of the jacket will “flare” or “wave”. The lines of the jacket should point straight down to the floor, not flare out at an angle.

    mensstyledbjacket (3 of 4)


    There are several types of double-breasted jackets. They are denoted like this: “total number of buttons on the front” x “number of buttons that fasten”. For example, the jacket in this article is a 6×2 (the most common and traditional). Also popular is the 4×2 (no nipple buttons). The major difference of a 6×1, 4×1, or 2×1 is that, since only one button fastens, the button stance is lower. This creates a longer lapel line which can sometimes be harder for a tailor to cut so that it lays flat all the way up and over the chest.


    A trim sleeve can make a huge difference in the appearance of the jacket. The sleeve should be as trim as possible without sacrificing range of motion. What’s important here is the armhole height (the higher the better, without sacrificing comfort or drape) and the pitch (rotation) of the sleeve. A good jacket has a perfectly clean sleeve head with no wrinkling, twisting, or breaking down the arm. The cloth should be clean and neat (at a resting state, of course).

    Sleeve Length

    At a resting state there should be about 1/2″-3/4″ of shirt cuff visible. The shirt cuff should be trim enough that it stops at the beginning of the hand, with a little extra fabric for arm extension (“Shirt Fit” article coming up).

    Lastly, always finish off a DB with a good looking, gentlemanly shoe like these “Jefferson” cordovan wingtips by Allen Edmonds.

    mensstyledbjacket (4 of 4)

    Thanks, as always, for reading.

    Yours in style,

    Dan Trepanier


    Photography by Alex Crawford. Styling by Dan Trepanier. Modeling by Will HoweSpecial thanks to Nazli Eslami, personal fitting specialist in Los Angeles for Knot Standard.

    • AFH

      Having another look, I’m not sure the button stance wouldn’t benefit from being a *touch* lower. Nipple buttons probably shouldn’t actually touch the nipples – especially when you’re using a contrast colour button; those things above are practically pasties! The grey DB flannel demo’d in the subsequent 20 pieces seems to be stanced the best part of an inch lower with slightly less angle on the nipple buttons – that seems to me to be a less striking look. Depends what you’re going for obviously.

    • Miguel

      I realize “the new direction” of the site has been highly debated to the point where indoor v outdoor shoots are even contentious. However, a positive aspect of this new direction is the much cleaner and clearer sight lines made available to the reader. As always great camerawork by Alex.

    • Gazman

      “The garment should be cut as close to the body as possible without causing
      any pulling, wrinkling or stress areas on the fabric. You’re looking for
      a clean drape…”

      Couldn’t agree more. So why do we see so many supposedly stylish men on the web who wear such tight-fitting clothes? These are men held up as style-icons and their photos copied and pasted all over the web, yet their suit jackets often have tension creases all up and down the sleeves and the fastening button straining to breaking point. I’ve seen many such photos on this blog.

      Men who don’t care about clothes tend to wear clothes too big and those that care a lot about clothes tend to wear them too tight.

    • Marcus

      How about buttoning with double-breasted jackets? With the single-breasted jacket you should always keep it buttoned when standing up and then you unbutton when you sit down. Should the DB jacket also be unbuttoned when sitting down or should I keep it buttoned?

      • AFH

        It should remain buttoned really, and to keep doing/undoing that inside button is awkward. However, a slim cut like that may need to be unbuttoned.

        Personally, I like a bit of allowance and don’t think it necessarily looks boxy. The cut here is a bit OTT imo.

        Slovenly as it might be, I love me a ventless DB with a bit of allowance – hides a multitude of sins I can tell you, from a misbehaving shirt to a belly bloated by real ale and BBQ.

    • Brent

      Seems 2015 will keep trying to push the DB jacket again. Wonder if maybe this year it will take off. I have one grey flannel burberry DB sportscoat and I do like it

    • TO

      Just killer jacket. Nice points on fit

    • twotone

      The jacket looks about 2″ to short to me and according to the length suggestion in the article.

      • TO

        Hard to tell from the front angle only

    • Juan Zara

      I am absolutely in love with the jacket! I normally prefer my double-breasteds with a slightly longer lapel roll, as I like there to be as little distance as possible between the buttoning point of my jacket and the waistband of my trousers, but the fabric on this baby is just breathtaking! I love that it there is sort of a sheen to it, almost as if it were silk. May I ask for the fabric’s article code?

      PS – just a little typo: it should read “Passaggio Cravatte”, not “Passagio.”

    • JBells

      ouu ya the fit on that jacket is awesmazing. The tapper at the waist really accentuates his athletic build. Also great tip on the internal buttoning

    • Tony Bannister

      What about the larger-stomached gent?

    • Ali Naaseh

      he looks like he’s covered in graph paper

      • AFH

        DT seems to love him some windowpane – very much a US style in an urban context.

    • Eric

      Dig the article, Dan. I’m leaning toward yes, but is this a Private Label piece from Knot Standard, or a “traditional” offering via their website? Just moved to LA, and am highly interested in checking out the Private Label dealio…and this blazer would do little to quell that interest!

    • Miguel

      I love DB jackets, I think they bring you to another level.
      Very informative article, I’m liking this kind of post, they’re so helpful for when buying a new piece of clothing.

      Thanks Dan.

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