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Spring Double-Breasted

Jack Bettridge
From the Print Edition:
Chris Noth, May/June 2010

It's finally happened! One of my favorite suit silhouettes-the double-breasted look-has come into vogue in my favorite time of year-spring/summer. The relationship of fashion designers with this swaggering suit format is fickle enough, but it coincides rarely with warm weather, and when it does I say take advantage.

First, lets vanquish some common misconceptions about the double-breasted suit. Contrary to what some believe, it is not the exclusive purview of the slim and tall. A wise colleague of mine once commented that "you can hide a whole corporation" inside a well-thought-out and well-cut DB. Broad shoulders, tapering to a close at the waist, create a slimming effect. The peaked lapels of a classic cut make you seem taller, not boxier as the paranoid would have it. Furthermore, while double-breasted suits have seemed to surface during fall/winter in the last few decades, it is a wonderful warm season look. If you doubt that rewatch Casablanca, set on the desert but replete with wraparound suit jackets. Then consider another summer staple, the yachting jacket.

The fashionable likes of Tom Ford, Simon Spurr, Zegna, Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger have sent them down the runway recently in a variety of looks-Donatella Versace even had one with straps and D-rings in place of button closures-but I chose to have this suit (at right) made to measure by Adrian Jules, of Rochester, New York. First of all, I wanted the classic, slimming Kent cut, but second of all I wanted the wide options and optimum fit that personal tailoring offers. I picked a pinstripe pattern in wool and silk-sourced by Gladson Ltd. from Vitale Barberis Canonico-for the further thinning effect that pattern affords. Peaked lapels, not notched, are a must if yours is not the perfectly sculpted figure that shows up in the fashion press. My view is that the six-button (one fastened) configuration best avoids the boxiness you might associate with DBs of misguided eras. If you're particularly short, you might even go with a jacket that buttons on the bottom row (I'm pretty tall already, so I didn't).

Then let the tailor go to work. He will place the buttons in such a way to best flatter your shape. The last caveat is to always keep it buttoned (including the inside closure). That maintains the sophisticated architecture of the jacket. Now, go look great.

Visit adrianjules.com and gladsonltd.com.

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