We Do Double Breasted

The double-breasted jacket is doubling down in 2024. With its strong silhouette and effortless nonchalance, the DB commands attention. Whether for a polished or more relaxed look, it is here to stay.

We Do Double Breasted

Never think the double-breasted jacket in your wardrobe is just a fleeting throwback. The iconic staple, especially in its oversized, lapel-laden version, isn't going anywhere in 2024 — in fact, it's doubling down harder than ever before. Gucci made the case for oversized double-breasted jackets that are to be worn open and loose. Ralph Lauren's DBs, on the other hand, were caramel in colour and buttoned tightly across waists, while Giorgio Armani's were boxier than traditional double-breasted jackets and worn with cropped trousers.

Ralph Lauren and Ricky Lauren at their Round Hill home in Jamaica. Photo courtesy of Ralph Lauren.

Rather than a full-blown renaissance, we're witnessing the reinforcement of an outerwear Goliath that's been low-key flexing for years - of course, not for the sartorially inclined rakish gentlemen who are now finally seeing the double-breasted secure its well-earned glory. Those with a keen eye for style identified an opportunity to subvert those old-money aesthetics into something unmissable again.

The double-breasted cut of jacket – one where the button-closure doesn’t meet in the middle but overlaps – first emerged in Victorian times. Derived from sailing apparel (as per a classic pea coat), double-breasted jackets were originally considered the casual alternative to single-breasted. However, as time went on, and fabric got pricier - especially throughout the world wars - opting for a double-breasted jacket became a subtle show of wealth and status. By the 1980s, it became a staple for captains of industry, titans of finance, and hoary politicians.

Gary Cooper and his wife, the actress Veronica Balfe, arrive at a preview of the movie 'Rosalie'. Getty Images.

Now, the double-breasted is the default for any vaguely trendy guy who wants to lend his look a soupçon of swaggering rakishness without going full turtleneck-under-a-vest fashion victim. It's a piece that commands attention through its strong silhouette yet carries an air of studied nonchalance. On the runway, we've seen the DB get blown out to obscene boxy proportions at — like Armani's cropped summer tailoring or the whole baroque Bode vibe - that are carrying the true spirit of the new generation of DB into the streets.

It makes total sense. As menswear tailoring has loosened up over the past decade, the DB's inherently elegant, broad-chested silhouette has become the perfect canvas for modern, easygoing style. You can wear it buttoned up with a tie for a vaguely affected professorial look, or leave it unbuttoned over a more casual shirt for some prime Rive Gauche poet-in-the-80s realness.

Robertas Aukstuolis and Amo Voelker photographed by Simon Lipman for Issue 65 of The Rake.
Oriol photographed by Diego Merino for Issue 82 of The Rake.
Jules Raynal photographed by Simon Lipman for Issue 45 of The Rake.

The best thing about 2024's DB “movement” is the sense of "oh this old thing?" nonchalance that it brings to the table. When you need to be statesmanly, wear a tie and button it up, and when you need to be louche, let it waft open, revealing a barely-there shirt beneath. Feeling good? Let that energy emanate forth from the elongated, sharp-shouldered form of a DB. Feeling crummy? Let its structure serve as an armour that smooths over any imperfections. Feeling uninspired? Just get a nice navy DB, a beaten denim shirt, a good pair of jeans, a nice western belt, and some boots.

The double-breasted juggernaut has flattened all resistance at this point. From the front rows to the high street, the tailoring world has gone double-breasted, and there's no going back.

Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg, 1977. Getty Images.