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In Fashion, What Does "Double-Breasted" Mean?

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  • Written By: A.E. Freeman
  • Edited By: Kathryn Hulick
  • Last Modified Date: 12 March 2014
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In fashion, double-breasted refers to a jacket or coat with two vertical rows of buttons down its front. The double-breasted coat's two rows of buttons distinguishes it from a single-breasted coat, which has only one vertical row of buttons. While the single-breasted coat may be more common, the double-breasted coat has its place as a winter jacket and sports coat.

The two vertical rows of buttons run parallel to each other on a double-breasted coat. A person wearing the coat usually has the option of buttoning it either on the right or left side, though sometimes one row of buttons is only decorative and doesn't have corresponding button holes. In some cases, one row of buttons will be completely functional while the other row has only one or two matching buttonholes.

The number of horizontal rows of buttons a double-breasted jacket has can vary. Many coats have three horizontal rows on the outside, for a total of six buttons. Usually, two buttons on either the right or left side close the jacket and the top button is left unfastened. Some coats also have an additional, hidden button on the inside panel.

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The more buttons a coat has, the higher its neckline will be and the more coverage across the front the coat will offer. More coverage can be beneficial in colder weather, since the extra fabric will help keep a person warm. Woolen pea coats are popular in the winter months for this reason. However, extra fabric also contributes bulk to the jacket and may not look good on all body types. Thin men may seem to be drowning a double-breasted jacket while short men may look even shorter.

Shorter men may find that a jacket with only four buttons, or two horizontal rows, is more flattering on them. The four button coat is often called the Kent. Four buttons cut down on the jacket's bulk, and allow more of the shirt and tie the man is wearing to be seen, which in turn seems to add height to a man's torso.

Double-breasted sports coats are usually associated with older businessmen. This style of sports coat usually has pointed or peaked lapels. Peaked lapels, where the top of the lapel points upwards, contribute to the elegant look of the jacket. While men can sometimes get away with wearing a single-breasted coat without tie, they should always wear a necktie or bow tie with a double-breasted sports coat, since the look will seem incomplete without a tie.

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Discuss this Article

strawCake
Post 6

@ceilingcat - I have a few old sweaters like that. They look pretty bad, but they're so comfortable I can't bear to get rid of them!

I think double-breasted garments for women are always going to be popular. I can't remember a winter in recent history that stores haven't featured pea coats prominently.

And I totally understand. They're comfy, and very stylish.

My only gripe: most pea coats come in wool, and I am so, so allergic. I wish they would start making pea coats out of cotton flannel or something!

ceilingcat
Post 5

I have two sweaters (one black, one pink) that I've had for about 9 years. They are double breasted-two rows of buttons run down the ribbed button bands on the front. They're pretty ratty, and one size too big. But I love those sweaters!

I'm in the process of knitting myself a similar sweater. One of the things I like so much about those sweater is the fact that they're double breasted. So although the new sweater is going to be red, and with a slightly different stitch pattern, I knew it had to be double breasted!

julies
Post 4

What I like about double breasted clothing is how roomy they are, but still look nice. Our office building is always cold. It doesn't matter what time of the year it is, I usually always wear a sweater.

I have a double breasted sweater that is a neutral color that will go with anything. I can even wear this over another sweater without feeling too bulky.

I can slip this sweater on over anything, button it and stay warm and still look nice for work.

John57
Post 3

A high quality double breasted suit for men can set you back a little bit, but I think they sure look professional. Maybe it's because you always see a tie being worn with them.

Any time we attend a black tie event, my husband always wears a double breasted suit. He is tall and I think it even makes him look thinner, but maybe it is the black color that does that.

Either way, he always looks really sharp when he wears this suit.

BrickBack
Post 2

@Kat19 -Poor thing you must have been uncomfortable. I don’t like to wear suits that are double breasted because I don’t think that they are feminine enough.

I am also self conscious about my weight, and I think that these suits tend to make you look heavier.

I think that double breasted suits look best on men. I especially like double breasted pinstripe suits. They really look sharp.

Kat919
Post 1

I have a women's double-breasted pea coat that I like a lot, but I've discovered one big disadvantage - it looks silly if you leave it unbuttoned. This can be a problem if you start to warm up a little an want a little airflow!

It was also a problem the winter I was pregnant. I couldn't button the coat, obviously, and so I couldn't wear it at all because it didn't look right open. I had to wear my husband's spare coat, and you can imagine how nice *that* looked.

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