Difference Between Single Breasted and Double Breasted Suit

In the world of classic menswear, the debate between the single breasted suit vs double breasted suit stands as one of the most enduring. Both have their unique histories, features, and place in a man’s wardrobe. Yet, understanding their nuances can significantly influence one’s style choices. This article provides an in-depth comparison to assist in making an informed decision.

What is the Main Difference Between Single Breasted and Double Breasted Suit?

The main difference between a single-breasted and a double-breasted suit is that a single-breasted suit features a single column of buttons with a narrow overlap of fabric, while a double-breasted suit has two parallel columns of buttons with a broader overlap of fabric. This design variation leads to distinctive styles, with single-breasted suits offering a more streamlined look and double-breasted suits providing a bolder, more formal appearance.

What is a Single Breasted Suit and What is a Double Breasted Suit?

A single-breasted suit typically has one column of buttons on the front and a narrow overlap of fabric. It is the most common style seen in modern men’s suits. They often have either one, two, or three buttons, though two-button styles are the most popular.

On the other hand, a double-breasted suit has a wider overlap and two parallel columns of buttons. This design traces back to naval reefer jackets and was especially popular in the mid-1900s. Double-breasted suits offer a bolder, more distinct look than their single-breasted counterparts.

Key Differences Between Single Breasted Suit and Double Breasted Suit

  1. Button Layout: Single-breasted suits typically have a single column of buttons, whereas double-breasted suits have two parallel columns.
  2. Overlap of Fabric: Double-breasted suits have a broader overlap of fabric in the front compared to single-breasted suits.
  3. Formality: Double-breasted suits are often perceived as more formal and are chosen for dressier occasions, while single-breasted suits are versatile and can be dressed up or down.
  4. Popularity: Single-breasted suits are more commonly worn today, whereas double-breasted suits, while having periods of popularity, are less commonly seen.
  5. Versatility: Single-breasted suits generally offer more versatility in terms of dressing for different occasions. They can be paired with various shirt and tie combinations.
  6. Fit: Double-breasted suits tend to be more snug around the waist and may offer a more structured silhouette.
  7. Lapel Style: Double-breasted suits often come with peak lapels, while single-breasted suits can have either notch or peak lapels.
  8. Unbuttoned Wear: It’s common to wear a single-breasted suit unbuttoned, but a double-breasted suit usually looks better when buttoned, even when the wearer is standing.
  9. Waistcoat Compatibility: Single-breasted suits are more commonly paired with waistcoats, while double-breasted suits are less likely to be worn with them.

Key Similarities Between Single Breasted Suit and Double Breasted Suit

  1. Purpose: Both styles are designed for formal occasions, business settings, and other events where a polished appearance is required.
  2. Material: Both single and double-breasted suits can be made from a variety of materials, including wool, cotton, linen, and blends.
  3. Component Parts: Both types include a jacket and trousers, and occasionally, a waistcoat.
  4. Tailoring: Both styles benefit from proper tailoring to ensure an optimal fit for the wearer.
  5. Pocket Placement: The standard placements for pockets, like the breast pocket and side pockets, are consistent between the two styles.
  6. Lining: Both suit styles can be lined or unlined, depending on the preference of the wearer and the purpose of the suit (e.g., warmer weather might call for an unlined suit).

Pros of Single Breasted Suit Over Double Breasted Suit

  1. Versatility: Single-breasted suits can be dressed up or down with ease, making them suitable for a range of occasions, from business meetings to casual events.
  2. Popularity: Due to their widespread acceptance, single-breasted suits are easier to find in stores, and there’s a broader range of styles and fits available.
  3. Temperature Regulation: With less fabric overlap, single-breasted suits can be cooler to wear, especially in warmer climates or during summer months.
  4. Adaptable Styling: Single-breasted jackets can be worn unbuttoned without looking unkempt, unlike double-breasted ones that usually need to remain buttoned.
  5. Simplicity: For those new to wearing suits, single-breasted styles are straightforward and can be less intimidating than navigating the button placement of a double-breasted suit.
  6. Body Type Accommodation: Single-breasted suits tend to flatter a broader range of body types, as they don’t emphasize the midsection as much as double-breasted suits might.

Cons of Single Breasted Suit Compared to Double Breasted Suit

  1. Perceived Formality: Double-breasted suits are often seen as more formal and can make a bolder statement, giving wearers a sense of authority or distinction.
  2. Distinctiveness: Due to their less common appearance, wearing a double-breasted suit can make one stand out in a crowd, whereas single-breasted suits are more ubiquitous.
  3. Structured Appearance: The design of double-breasted suits can provide a more defined waistline, giving a more tailored look.
  4. Traditional Appeal: For those who appreciate classic styles, double-breasted suits can evoke a sense of nostalgia and timeless elegance.
  5. Lapel Emphasis: Double-breasted suits often feature peak lapels, which can add an element of sophistication and drama to the suit’s appearance.
  6. Commitment to Style: Wearing a double-breasted suit makes a deliberate style statement, which can communicate confidence and fashion-forwardness.

Pros of Double Breasted Suit Over Single Breasted Suit

  1. Statement Style: Double-breasted suits make a bold fashion statement, allowing the wearer to stand out in a crowd.
  2. Perceived Elegance: The design and structure of a double-breasted suit exude an aura of classic elegance and sophistication.
  3. Enhanced Silhouette: With its wide lapels and structured design, a double-breasted suit can provide a flattering silhouette, accentuating a person’s shoulders and narrowing their waist.
  4. Formality Boost: Double-breasted suits are often seen as more formal than their single-breasted counterparts, making them suitable for grand events or high-profile meetings.
  5. Distinctiveness: Given their less common nature, wearing a double-breasted suit can communicate a sense of individual style and sartorial knowledge.
  6. Historical Appeal: Evoking a sense of nostalgia, double-breasted suits carry with them a rich history, reminiscent of old Hollywood glamour and naval officers.

Cons of Double Breasted Suit Compared to Single Breasted Suit

  1. Warmth: The additional fabric overlap in double-breasted suits can make them warmer, which might not be ideal for hotter climates or seasons.
  2. Less Versatility: Double-breasted suits, due to their inherent formality, may not be as versatile for various occasions as single-breasted suits.
  3. Buttoned-Up Necessity: Unlike single-breasted suits that can be worn open, double-breasted suits usually need to be buttoned to maintain a polished look, which can be restrictive for some.
  4. Perceived Bulk: For certain body types, the added fabric and design of a double-breasted suit can add perceived bulk, potentially not offering as streamlined a look as a single-breasted option.
  5. Availability: Double-breasted suits, being less common, might not be as readily available in all stores or in all styles and fits.
  6. Trend Sensitivity: While classic in nature, double-breasted suits can be more susceptible to fashion trends, potentially going in and out of style more frequently than the more neutral single-breasted design.

Situations When Single Breasted Suit is Better Than Double Breasted Suit

  1. Casual Events: For occasions that don’t demand too much formality, such as a relaxed dinner or a casual business meeting, a single-breasted suit offers the right balance of elegance without appearing overly formal.
  2. Warm Climates: In hotter weather or tropical climates, the lighter overlap of a single-breasted suit can be more comfortable and breathable.
  3. Versatile Dressing: When the aim is to move from a day to night look without changing outfits, a single-breasted suit provides the adaptability needed.
  4. Frequent Sitting: For events or situations that involve a lot of sitting, like long meetings or conferences, single-breasted suits can be more comfortable as they can be unbuttoned easily.
  5. First-time Suit Wearers: For individuals not accustomed to wearing suits often, a single-breasted style can be simpler and less intimidating.
  6. Regular Office Wear: In workplaces that require a suit but don’t demand excessive formality, single-breasted suits strike the right note.

Situations When Double Breasted Suit is Better Than Single Breasted Suit

  1. High-profile Events: For grand occasions such as gala dinners, award ceremonies, or weddings, a double-breasted suit adds an extra touch of elegance and distinction.
  2. Board Meetings: In high-stakes business situations where making an impression matters, the formality of a double-breasted suit can convey authority.
  3. Cooler Climates: The additional fabric overlap can offer more warmth, making double-breasted suits suitable for cooler temperatures.
  4. Fashion-forward Settings: For events or industries that appreciate a more fashion-forward or distinctive look, double-breasted suits make a stylish statement.
  5. Historical or Themed Events: If attending an event that celebrates a particular era, especially the mid-20th century, a double-breasted suit fits right in.
  6. Seeking a Slimmer Silhouette: The design of a double-breasted suit can sometimes offer a more defined waistline, providing a tailored appearance for those seeking this effect.


How should a double-breasted suit be worn when sitting down?
While some prefer to keep their double-breasted suits buttoned when seated to maintain its shape, it’s generally recommended to unbutton it for comfort, especially during longer periods of sitting.

Are there specific occasions where one type of suit is seen as inappropriate?
While there aren’t strict rules, traditionally, double-breasted suits are viewed as more formal. It might be seen as overly formal for casual settings. However, modern fashion trends have made both suits adaptable to various occasions with the right accessories and styling.

How does body type influence the choice between single and double-breasted suits?
Single-breasted suits tend to be more universally flattering, suitable for various body types. Double-breasted suits can add a sense of width to the torso, making them particularly complementary for taller, leaner individuals. However, with the right tailoring, any body type can pull off either style.

Are there variations in lapel styles for both single and double-breasted suits?
Yes, while peak lapels are commonly associated with double-breasted suits, they can also be found on single-breasted ones. Similarly, single-breasted suits often feature notch lapels, but these can occasionally be seen on double-breasted jackets too. The choice of lapel style often comes down to personal preference and the specific look one is trying to achieve.

How has the popularity of these suits evolved over time?
Double-breasted suits were particularly popular during the 1930s to 1950s, saw a decline in the latter half of the 20th century, and have made a comeback in recent years, especially in high fashion circles. Single-breasted suits have maintained a steady popularity due to their versatility and adaptability to changing fashion trends.

Single Breasted vs Double Breasted Suit Summary

The distinction between single breasted suit vs double breasted suit is more than just about buttons and fabric. It’s a blend of history, design, and personal preference. Whether you lean towards the versatility of a single-breasted suit or the commanding presence of a double-breasted design, the choice ultimately reflects one’s personal style and the statement they wish to make. Remember, the best suit is not just the one that looks good, but the one that feels right for the occasion and resonates with your individuality.

Single Breasted SuitDouble Breasted Suit
Button LayoutSingle column of buttonsTwo parallel columns
Overlap of FabricNarrow overlapBroad overlap
Lapel StyleNotch or peak lapelsUsually peak lapels
PurposeFormal occasionsFormal occasions
Component PartsJacket and trousersJacket and trousers
TailoringRequires optimal fitRequires optimal fit
Pros Over the Other
VersatilitySuitable for various occasionsMakes a bold statement
PopularityEasier to find in storesOffers a classic elegance
Temperature RegulationCooler to wearProvides warmth
Cons Compared to the Other
Perceived FormalityLess formalMore formal
VersatilityMore versatileLess adaptable for all events
Buttoned-Up NecessityCan be worn openBetter when buttoned
Situations Better Suited
Casual EventsSuitableLess ideal
High-profile EventsLess idealSuitable
Frequent SittingComfortableLess comfortable
Fashion-forward SettingsLess idealSuitable
Single Breasted vs Double Breasted Suit Summary

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Diff Pages
Scroll to Top