Given the recent rise in popularity of double-breasted suits, now is a good time to debate whether single-breasted vs. double-breasted is the better option.

Double-breasted suits can look amazing; they don’t always seem to fit into every setting.

So how can you know when it’s appropriate to wear one and when you should keep to the single-breasted option?

By learning the differences between the two, of course!

What is a Single-Breasted Suit Jacket?

The main attribute of a single-breasted jacket is its single row of buttons down the center of the front of the jacket.

single-breasted suit jacket style

As a result, the jacket’s front panels don’t overlap other than directly at the button site.

Most single-breasted suit jackets feature between one and three buttons, although some styles have more.

More buttons on a suit jacket mean a shorter lapel since the lapel typically ends near the highest button point.

Single-breasted suits are the most commonly worn style. It can be very dressy or very casual.

Different Types of Single-Breasted Suits

The number of buttons your suit jacket has plays a role in how you wear your suit.

one vs. two vs. three button suits

For example, if your jacket features only a single button, your suit is probably highly dressy.

one-button single-breasted suit

Therefore, single buttons are usually reserved for tuxedos or other very formal suits. They’ll also likely have a peak or shawl lapel.

Two-button suit jackets are the most common version of single-breasted suits. You can wear this style in almost any setting.

two-button single-breasted suit

Most suit jackets with two buttons have a notch lapel; more contemporary suits sport wider notches than their classic counterparts.

A suit jacket with three buttons is a more informal style of single-breasted jacket. Because the top button placement is higher than on the other types, the jacket lapels are very short and leave only a small opening at the top.

three-button single-breasted suit

For an incredibly uncommon suit jacket, you could wear one with 2.5 buttons. This is when the third button is placed right behind the fold of the lapel, so it isn’t obvious.

In addition, it provides you the option to button up in the cold.

How Small Details Affect the Single-Breasted Jacket

The tiniest detail can have the most significant impact on the formality of your suit.

So, aside from the number of buttons, you must look at the lapels, pockets, and vents to assess how dressy your suit jacket is.

A jacket’s lapel is formal if it’s peaked or shawl. You’ll only ever find shawl lapels on tuxedos, but peaked lapels are also suitable for very professional business suits.

notch lapel vs. peak lapel vs. shawl lapel

Notch lapels are for regular wear; they can be dressy and casual.

The style of your pockets also says a lot about how you wear your suit jacket. Most everyday single-breasted suits have flap pockets, while jetted pockets are reserved for your dressiest suits.

different suit jacket pocket styles

Less popular are patch pockets; these are incredibly casual and aren’t as popular as they were a few decades ago.

How your suit jacket is vented plays a prominent role in how your suit jacket reads. A single vent denotes a casual style; these are most common on blazers.

single vent vs. double vents vs. no vents

Double vents are fitting for all suit styles. These are sophisticated and are best for a range of movements. Some suit jackets have no vent, but this is only for formal wear.

What is a Double-Breasted Suit Jacket?

Double-breasted suits have two columns of off-center buttons. Each column can have two or three buttons, resulting in a total of four or six buttons.

But they aren’t all functioning buttons.

double-breasted suit style

One front panel of your suit jacket overlaps the other, creating two layers of suit fabric across your front.

However, the panel doesn’t go entirely across your body; it buttons just past your center line.

Double-breasted suits are dressier than single-breasted ones. They almost always have peak lapels, but shawl lapels are possible.

It is a very retro look that indicates a debonair approach to fashion.

Double-Breasted Jacket Button Types

One of the most exciting features of double-breasted suits is that the buttons can be arranged in various configurations.

Double-breasted 4x2 suit

A 4×2 double-breasted suit jacket has two button columns with two buttons each. The outer buttons are functional, while the inner two are merely decorative. This is one of the most common button arrangements.

Double-breasted 4x1 suit

A 4×1 suit jacket is not a commonly seen style. This version has only one functional button, as the top row of buttons is set far out, where the overlapping jacket panels don’t meet.

double-breasted 6x2 suit

The 6×2 double-breasted jacket is a very traditional setup. It’s similar to the 4×2 style but with an extra row of buttons. And just like with the 4×1 style, the top two buttons are set high up and spaced more widely than the other buttons.

Double-breasted 6x1 suit

Finally, 6×1 double-breasted jackets have three rows of buttons across, but the top two are further out. As with the 4×1, only one button works; all the others are decorative.

How to Wear Double-Breasted Suits

The key to looking good in a double-breasted suit is excellent tailoring. Seek a tailor to ensure your suit fits perfectly in all areas and flatters you.

How should a double-breasted suit fit?

Keep your suit simple. Because the style of your garment is the main attraction, you don’t need many embellishments. These will only make your appearance feel cluttered.

One exception is your shoes; definitely feel free to play with your shoe style to round out your sophisticated ensemble.

The most important rule for wearing your double-breasted jackets is how you button them.

how to button the double-breasted suit jacket

Don’t ever leave it unbuttoned unless you are sitting down. And when you’re standing, you should fasten only the top functioning button.

Advantages & Disadvantages vs. the Single-Breasted Jacket

It’s helpful to weigh the pros and cons of double-breasted vs. single-breasted when deciding which style is most appropriate.

A double-breasted jacket gives the impression of a broad chest and shoulders: the peak lapels and the button columns help create this image.

Mastering the double-breasted suits

A single-breasted jacket needs padding to accomplish this effect. If you aren’t broad-shouldered, you may want to consider wearing double-breasted jackets to enhance your silhouette.

Double-breasted suits always have a debonair vibe, but they are dressier than your standard single-breasted suit jacket. So, a double-breasted jacket wouldn’t be suitable for business-casual offices.

Modern double-breasted jackets are also more prone to looking boxy, so it’s essential that you find the ideal cut and size for your body.

Single-Breasted vs. Double-Breasted Suit Differences

So, how do these two suit styles stack up against each other?

Neither style is almost ever inappropriate in any setting, but sometimes one cut is more fitting for the occasion.

double-breasted vs. single-breasted suit jacket styles

Formality isn’t the only factor you need to consider, although it is significant.

Here’s how to determine when you should wear single-breasted vs. double-breasted.

Formality

Double-breasted suits win the competition for the dressiest suit style.

Nearly all double-breasted suit jackets feature peak lapels; the few outliers have shawl collars.

wearing double-breasted grey suit formally

Because peak lapels are practically the standard for double-breasted jackets, these elevate this jacket above single-breasted.

To enhance the formality of your suit jacket, it should be a dark color with jetted pockets.

Choices & Options

A single-breasted suit jacket is incredibly versatile and far outpaces the double-breasted suit in features.

You can opt for a formal single-breasted suit with a single-button enclosure, peak lapels, no vents, and jetted pockets.

Then, you can change into a casual single-breasted suit with three buttons, notch lapels, one vent, and flap pockets. Of course, you also have many choices in the cut of your suit.

single-breasted vs. double-breasted suit jacket options

Each of these can categorize your suit for either formal, professional, or social settings.

A double-breasted suit offers few of these optimizations. Some may provide more casual flap pockets and may have variable vents.

Otherwise, double-breasted jackets are relatively standard outside of their button configuration.

Style

The type of suit jacket you choose dictates the tone of your entire outfit.

Double-breasted suit styles are always on the side of debonair and have a vintage feeling.

wearing double-breasted black tuxedo with a black bow tie

On the other hand, single-breasted suit jackets can be styled to look sleek, modern, or classic. They can also be elegant and vintage, like a double-breasted jacket.

Versatility

Single-breasted jackets have a much broader range of effects.

Despite a particular feature that may make the jacket naturally formal or informal, you can alter the tone effectively with the help of accessories.

single-breasted tuxedo jacket

Of course, you don’t want to overload your outfit with too many accessories, but you can be more liberal with your accessorization with a single-breasted vs. double-breasted jacket.

Fit

Single-breasted jackets offer more fit and cut options, as well.

You can choose between slim fit, classic fit, skinny fit, or modern fit; your body type will determine which is most flattering for you.

Differences in single-breasted suit cuts: skinny vs. slim vs. modern vs. classic

Double-breasted suits don’t usually offer such a wide array of cuts.

You might find a slim-fit double-breasted jacket, but the other options aren’t readily available.

Conclusion: Which One’s Better?

Are you still debating whether single-breasted vs. double-breasted is the pick for you? It all boils down to what use you’ll have for your suit.

One of each in your closet would be ideal. However, you may not be able to afford two suits, so determine which one will be a better investment.

If you’re looking for an all-around general suit to fall back on for all situations and events, it’s best to opt for the versatile single-breasted jacket. You’ll find far more uses for it.

However, you can’t go wrong with a double-breasted suit if you’re searching for a highly formal style or great for professional business settings.

Alexander Stoicoff
Author: Alexander Stoicoff

Hi, I’m Alex, and I’ve studied and specialized in styling in Rome. Through my writing, I want to help men dress well and learn the purpose and significance of suits and other formal attire. My final goal is to make men more confident in their wardrobe choice and life in general.

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