Double-breasted jackets given new cool

New double-breasted jackets cut to be left unbuttoned are injecting a classic look with cool, says Tom Stubbs

Brunello Cucinelli cotton-corduroy suit, £3,520
Brunello Cucinelli cotton-corduroy suit, £3,520

One of the most significant cinematic style moments of the past half century was Richard Gere wearing Giorgio Armani for the lead role in American Gigolo in 1980. Gere’s suits set the menswear tone for the ensuing decade. Armani’s clean, light, flowing lines were the antidote to the preceding decade’s showy and often restrictive sartorial tropes, and parallels with this mood are now being felt once again, in particular with double-breasted suit jackets being left unbuttoned, as Gere did.

Richard Gere in American Gigolo
Richard Gere in American Gigolo | Image: Alamy Stock Photo

Double-breasted jackets cut specifically  to be worn undone are an exciting development right now. From Giorgio Armani’s current collection, I’m keen on jackets in beige cashmere (£3,000) and brown pinstripe velvet (£2,000) with peak lapels. 

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“It’s all about following the natural movement of the shoulder and the hip,” says Edward Sexton, a master of suave drape. “Cut long to be left open, the jacket can create a graceful flowing line from the collar to the below-the-waist button.” He calls this “long, low and leafy” – a natural elegance. “You can begin with it done up, then later flip the bottom button – it’s so relaxed it feels like the party has started.” 

From left: Giorgio Armani velvet jacket, £2,000. Dunhill silk/cotton jacket, £2,195, and leather trousers, £1,795. Cerruti cotton-drill suit, £2,220
From left: Giorgio Armani velvet jacket, £2,000. Dunhill silk/cotton jacket, £2,195, and leather trousers, £1,795. Cerruti cotton-drill suit, £2,220

Sexton can create both bespoke (£5,700) and made-to-measure (£2,500) two-piece suits in this style, but from this month there’s also a debut ready-to-wear long, low and leafy suit (£1,900). 

Edward Sexton wool/cashmere suit, £1,900
Edward Sexton wool/cashmere suit, £1,900

This new relaxed sartorial agenda is also coming through in designer ready-to-wear collections – from savvy independent brands to a clutch of leading luxury houses. Dunhill’s longer-length, DB jackets were worn undone on its autumn catwalk and paired with leather bootleg trousers – including a black silk/cotton evening jacket (£2,195) with Airforce-blue leather trousers (£1,795). This is tailoring with attitude.  

From left: Connolly denim suit, £1,070. Ami wool jacket, £490, and trousers, £225.  Boss wool suit, £945, and wool jumper, £369.
From left: Connolly denim suit, £1,070. Ami wool jacket, £490, and trousers, £225. Boss wool suit, £945, and wool jumper, £369.

At Cerruti, military-green wool double-breasted jackets (£1,885) are cut without a waist to maximise the unbuttoned flow – a look taken even further in its spring collection with a long‑drape, cotton-drill jacket (£1,870) with almost Zoot-suit proportions. At Connolly, designer Marc Audibet cuts like a dream; you only have to try on one of his jackets (£650) to fall for its remarkable qualities. A six-button, double-breasted jacket (£990) in hazelnut or terracotta Italian crepe fastens higher than usual and has a pert shoulder, slender line and long, easy, narrow wrap – and looks fantastic undone, evoking Ziggy Stardust circa Aladdin Sane. The matching high-waist, wide-flare trousers (£550) also have a distinct Bowie accent, but more pre‑Hunky Dory.

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Thom Sweeney also cuts a great six-button DB (£1,595), in Caccioppolli 11oz open-weave grey wool pinstripe – it has a shallower wrap than Connolly’s, but also hangs perfectly when undone. Ami’s thick, chalk-stripe wool works well for a casual suit jacket (£490) paired with cropped, wide trousers (£225) – a striped knit (£490) plays well into the laidback look. Ditto at Boss: a cream funnelneck jumper (£369) adds to the relaxed feel of a grey double-breasted suit (£945) left unbuttoned. (Boss’s eveningwear also includes a fluid silk suit – £945 – that looks great worn open with a white tee.) Brunello Cucinelli is a label whose MO revolves around an easy-undone vibe, and its Sea Island cotton, wide-wale corduroy DB suit (£3,520, main picture) is another that comes into its own with knitwear. 

Alessandro Sartori for Ermenegildo Zegna offers an unusual notch-lapel, shallow-wrap DB that adds a chest strap. “We’ve set the button deeper than single-breasted, but not as deep as double, so as to keep the DB shape when fastened, but avoid any excess fabric when undone,” he says. Suits (£3,660) in a bark-green wool/cotton corduroy or chestnut wool/mohair herringbone have a cool modernity.

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