For gentlemen, the rules behind wearing a suit are often much easier to understand than the popular media makes it but there is one truism that holds in nearly every case: Wearing a double-breasted suit is a tough proposition. 

Yet it is also one that has a lot of rewards for the man who can successfully pull it off. While most men would prefer something more modern, cleaner, and, most of all, simpler, the double-breasted suit is for the man who knows what he is doing and who needs some sartorial spice to set off his outfit from the sea of also-rans out there. And if you want to be that guy, you’re in luck because, in this article, we’re going to give you some advice on how you, too, can wear a double-breasted suit.

From cut and styling choices to fit and finish, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about wearing one of the most fashionable yet difficult pieces in all of men’s wear: The double-breasted suit. 

First things first, what exactly is a double-breasted suit? Double breasted refers to a suit with two sets of buttons and flaps. The pull over portion of the suit can be switched to either direction in this method because of the presence of buttons on either side with peaked lapels and the left typically covering the right side. Unlike the regular suit blazer, the double-breasted suit jacket has a cinching-in function that makes the waist appear smaller and emphasizes the shoulders breadth. 

Classic Double-Breasted Suit

This is the so-called V-shape that many men strive for in their appearance. That said, when it comes to double-breasted suits, they tend to favor slimmer men over wider, heavier set men because of this. Double-breasted suits might seem like they are more formal because of their more complex construction. 

This is not the case. In fact, because they are hard to pull off, double-breasted suits can be seen as a more avant garde option for gentlemen that are attending a formal event. If you are going to a conservative, dressed up occasion like a wedding or funeral, you may want to opt for a traditional looking suit over the double-breasted look simply because it does tend to make you stand out in a crowd. Double-breasted suits are perfect for events where you are allowed to stand out from the crowd. Think a friend’s wedding or some other occasion where you are encouraged to demonstrate pride, personality, and a little bit of fashion sense. 

How to wear a double-breasted suit? Since it is a more tailored look by definition, you will need to be prepared accordingly. This means that you need to make sure it fits - particularly in the shoulders and waist - and make any adjustments you might need to make it work. Unlike some styles, you won’t get away with a sloppy look when it comes to double-breasted suit jackets. 

You need some planning and forethought and probably a tailor, too, because things rarely come right off of the rack looking great. If the thought of consulting with a tailor makes you blanch or if you’d rather not put so much thought into your outfit then you should leave the double-breasted suit jacket at home. In terms of pairing it with shirts and ties, you can pretty much use the same skills you would for any other suit. 

Complementary colors and the like but one thing to keep in mind, overall, is that you need to make sure the overall silhouette is flattering to you. No one will care about your shirt collar or wing tip shoes if you look like a crumpled, complex mess of fabric. 

As you can probably tell from the last line, the key to a double-breasted suit is the fit and finish of the suit as well as the person putting it together. This is not a suit style that allows for sloppiness. Here are some things you can look for in your suit to make sure it fits properly and looks good on you:

You want high armholes and trim sleeves in a modern double-breasted suit. Unlike older styles of this vintage, the modern cut eschews extra fabric and layers and sticks to the modern sensibilities of minimalism and clean looks. 

You want the sleeves somewhat tapering towards your wrist and you don’t want them clinging to or hovering below your armpits. You want it to look like it was made for you and you were simply wrapped in it.

You also want to look for wider peak lapels. This means lapels that are small at the end and grow larger towards your face. What this does is create the appearance of height in the person as well as visually it widens the shoulders. 

Like we said earlier, the V-shape encouraged by the double-breasted suit style is why so many people love it. You need to make sure this is something that flatters your body but also gives you that extra enhancement you need. Shorter men will particularly find a lot to enjoy from this aspect of the suit but, remember, the important thing here is tailoring and you have to get that right before anything else. 

Along with the above, double-breasted suit jackets tend to be cut shorter to continue this theme of elongation and distorting the wearer’s body type. We suggest you get a double-breasted suit that you like but one of best styles, when it comes to lapels, is the peaked lapels. These point upward and continue the eye’s gaze in that same direction. 

Notch lapels and shawl lapels tend to have a smoothing effect and de-emphasize the double-breasted suit’s visual trickery. It’s tough to pull off a shawl lapel, though, so be forewarned. Think Playboy mansion or black-and-white tie ball - it’s that kind of look. 

Above all, comfort is the key to style. If you do not look comfortable or you aren’t comfortable in what you are wearing, it will show, and no amount of visual tricks or a well-tailored suit will help you then. Always keep that in mind above all other considerations when choosing your suit style.