Hallmark of the Sartorial Rebel: The 6x1 Double-Breasted Jacket

Some of the 20th century’s most celebrated tailors mastered the rules, only to break them; the 6×1 double-breasted suit being one of The Rake‘s personal favourite transgressions.

The shorter coat length, high lapel gorge and higher-than-normal breast and hip pockets on this Cifonelli suit all work together to create an impressive sense of length and proportion.

“It is quite simply, the deadliest blow in all of martial arts. He hits you with his fingertips at five different pressure points on your body, and then lets you walk away. But once you've taken five steps your heart explodes inside your body and you fall to the floor, dead, says Bill in the macabrely hilarious Quentin Tarantino masterpiece, Kill Bill, of the mythical Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique."

Similarly, there is one garment that is irrefutably the most rarified, the sole preserve of true seventh-dan black belt practitioners that is the ultimate style weapon in the game of sartorial one-upmanship. That garment is the 6x1 double-breasted jacket (or button-one-show-three in some traditionalist circles). And the men who wielded it with ultimate confidence and bravado, such as the Duke of Windsor, Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Gianni Agnelli, Fred Astaire and Ralph Lauren occupy the most iconic roles in the enduring drama of classic elegance. Amusingly while the double-breasted jacket is today perceived to be highly traditionalist, a century ago it was the hallmark of the sartorial rebel. And the 6x1 iteration was the most wildly deviant, liberatingly comfortable and irrepressibly rakish of them all.

The double-breasted jacket, as explained by Christian Barker in our introduction on this style, was derived from the naval reefer jacket and worn over casual clothes like tennis wear. At the dawn of the 20thcentury as dress codes began to loosen, men began to wear double-breasted jackets as sports, business and even eveningwear as a more casual alternative to the three-piece suit. It was considered particularly audacious in eveningwear as it allowed the wearer to jettison the restrictive waistcoat for a libidinously comfortable style.

In the early part of the century two tailors emerged as the most conspicuous champions of the double-breasted jacket. They plied their craft in two different nations and yet demonstrated a profound spiritual kinship. The first was the brilliant Frederick Scholte, a Dutch tailor based on Savile Row and who became the chief progenitor with Edward VIII in the creation of the British drape. The second was Domenico Caraceni, a genius of the shears famously capable of perfectly sizing up a client with just his eyes. He famously dissected the Henry Poole suits owned by music teacher to the English Court, Francesco Tosti, and married their style with the softness and lightness of his native Abruzzo tailoring to create the very foundation of Roman and Milanese suiting. Caraceni’s tailoring was made distinct from the more rustic style of Neapolitan tailoring by heroic shoulders, a clean chest, a nipped waist, wide lapels, a flared skirt and somewhat short jackets. The larger-than-life silhouette of the Caraceni suit drew Italian nobility and Hollywood glitterati, notably Douglas Fairbanks Sr and Jr to his door.


    September 2020


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