Style

Five Nontraditional Double-Breasted Suits, and How to Find Them

Everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask.

The most familiar double-breasted jacket has six buttons with two that close—the 6x2—but a variety of suitmakers have taken a more daring stance. Here, then, is a primer on atypical alternatives.

The 2x1

Jacket by Ermenegildo Zegna Couture ($4,995); trousers by Ermenegildo Zegna Couture ($2,100).
Source: Ermenegildo Zegna Couture

Back Story
On a tuxedo, this style earns applause across the board, especially when the jacket takes a shawl lapel. On a city suit, though, it’s the formal-tailoring equivalent of a motorcycle jacket and best left to resolute rebels.

What’s New
The rebel forces have grown stronger, with this cult cut popping up all over the place. Its less-is-more ritziness serves as a canvas for a jazzy pattern or a surprising texture.

How to Wear It
Welcomed at supper clubs, discothèques, and Independent Spirit Awards acceptance speeches. Pair it with a narrow shirt, a skinny tie, and a tight smile.

Where to Buy It
Jackets in this mode can be had from Ermenegildo Zegna Couture ($4,995).

 

The 4x1

Source: E. Tautz & Sons

Back Story
The Duke of Windsor’s younger brother (Prince George, Duke of Kent) used this style, with its long lapel roll, to flatter his short stature. See also the 4x1s and 6x1s favored by 5-foot-6-inch Ralph Lauren.

What’s New
In the 1980s those buttons went south, and this cut’s reputation eventually followed. Designers are striving to restore its appeal by branding its billowing schlubbiness as hip nonchalance.

What’s New
At work, or, depending on the details, as a Miami Vice Halloween costume. Pair it with full-cut trousers. And find a pal to play Crockett to your Tubbs.

Where to Buy It
London brand E. Tautz & Sons offers one with a long, straight cut and a $1,025 price tag. “We softened the construction,” says designer Patrick Grant, “and chose cloths with a breathable, open texture.”

 

The 4x2

Source: Richard James

Back Story
The most ordinary stance here simply omits the top buttons of the 6x2. That those beautifully useless things are sometimes razzed as “nipple buttons” may explain some gents’ discomfort with the style.

What’s New
Custom shops such as Articles of Style report an increase in commissions for these. The look’s in keeping with the new casual feel of office attire. Works well with patch pockets.

How to Wear It
Cocktail parties, at every opportunity. Pair it with a boutonniere. Often the double-breasted suit takes a hole on each peak lapel, and it seems a shame to let them both sit idle.

Where to Buy It
You can do worse than Armani. But you cannot do much better, this fall, than the ready-to-wear offering from Savile Row’s Richard James ($1,000 to $1,300), which includes ocher flannels and jazzy checks.

 

The 6x3

Hermès (from $4,400).
Source: Hermès

Back Story
Its rise is a 1960s tale of two cities: In London, Mods thought it a la mode, while their counterparts in Paris bought from designer Ted Lapidus.

What’s New
The 6x3 is getting some fresh respect. Of all the funkier double-breasted cuts, this is the one most likely to earn the approval of menswear purists and those in more conservative offices.

How to Wear It
This one goes anywhere. Pair it with a striking shirt-and-tie combo. You won’t be showing a lot of shirt front, so make it count.

Where to Buy It
Italian brand Sunnei (jackets from $450) decks out its suits in brash plaids, while the romantics at Hermès have designed versions in plush, sedate solids and muted stripes, from $4,400.

 

The 8x3

Rowing Blazers’ Prince Charlie ($1,095).
Source: Rowing Blazers

Back Story
Rarely spotted on a suit jacket, this descends straight from the “reefer coats” of navy brass. The 8x3 is most familiar as the blue blazer worn by guys who answer to grand titles, such as Charles, Prince of Wales, and Dave, vice commodore of his yacht club.

What’s New
Understand that by wearing this you risk pomposity in most circumstances. To pull it off, be self-aware and wholeheartedly half-ironic.

How to Wear It
Anyplace you want to annoy dullards with the shining splendor of your metallic buttons. Pair it with jeans in the city, white jeans on the Riviera, reds on Nantucket, cords on a Wes Anderson set.

Where to Buy It
The sport coat startup Rowing Blazers—nautical by nature and instinctively insouciant—will put you in a model called the Prince Charlie for $1,095.

Read more on the history and newly redesigned future of double-breasted suits. 

    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.
    LEARN MORE