There’s been great debate in some circles about whether single-breasted vs. double-breasted suits are better.
This is like comparing apples to oranges; both are amazing.
Instead, the better question is, which one is better for which setting?
To figure that out, you must first learn the differences between the suits and why some styles work the way they do.
Single-Breasted vs. Double-Breasted Jacket Closure Difference
They close differently thanks to button placement, which dramatically impacts the suit’s entire look.
By moving the spacing and number of buttons, designers can create an entirely different look.
Nearly every aspect of the suits can be identical, except for the arrangement of the buttons.
Different Single-Breasted Suit Styles
Single-breasted suits are today’s number one suit style; they are timeless and versatile.
These suit jackets can be formal or casual, depending on the styling details.
Perhaps the most significant stylistic variation of a single-breasted suit jacket is how many buttons it has.
The main style choices are one, two, and three buttons, but jackets can have more.
One-button jackets aren’t very common. You don’t see them on the average suit because they are only for formal suits, including tuxedos.
The button must be placed at the same level as your navel. Your suit jacket will look disproportional if it’s too high or low.
When you are standing, you must always have your single button fastened.
Two-button suit jackets are the most common style for single-breasted suits.
This is an excellent choice for many different types of looks, ranging from casual to very dressy.
Three-button suit jackets are the most casual button style and don’t necessarily suit all body types.
The buttons take up more space on your torso, requiring a shorter lapel.
Different Double-Breasted Suit Styles
Double-breasted suits can also vary their number of buttons.
Most have a total of six or four buttons, but of course, not all of them are fastened.
Usually, only one or two get buttoned.
So, for example, a 6×1 double-breasted suit jacket means it has six buttons in all, but only one is functional.
If you’re wearing a 6×1 jacket, you can only button the very bottom button.
This creates a wider lapel and opens up the chest area more than the other double-breasted jackets.
6×2 suit jackets are the standard for most double-breasted suits.
It’s a conservative and professional suit style.
The bottom two in this jacket can button, but be sure to leave the very bottom one undone.
4×2 suit jackets are a distinctive style. They create a more streamlined figure and are an informal double-breasted suit style.
The most streamlined silhouette, however, is a 4×1 suit jacket.
These jackets have a great deal of space between all the buttons and the longest lapel.
Some double-breasted suits have just two buttons, but those are super rare and are a considerable fashion risk.
Differences in Style Limitations
Single-breasted suits can be embellished and styled for most suit-worthy occasions and have a great many style options.
Single-breasted suits can also include a vest to increase the formality and entire aesthetic.
On the other hand, double-breasted suits are more limited.
For starters, the suit jacket is the focal point of the entire ensemble, so the suit doesn’t need any additional flourishes to add to the style.
Keep your accessories and details simple, or you may overload your elegant look.
For example, a vest doesn’t go well with a double-breasted jacket, but it matches perfectly with a single-breasted one.
This is because the jacket’s fabric already folds across your torso, as a vest does.
You don’t need to have that many layers of fabric over your chest.
While single-breasted jackets can range from formal to informal, double-breasted jackets don’t have that flexibility.
They are firmly formal, so they have fewer styling choices in detail, too.
Most have peak lapels, though shawl lapels are acceptable.
Single-Breasted vs. Double-Breasted Suit Formality Differences
Many aspects of the double-breasted suit make it more formal than its single-breasted counterpart.
Just like the suit vest makes a single-breasted suit more formal than without, the double-breasted suit works similarly.
This is because of the extra fabric that covers your torso.
A double-breasted jacket creates a small V-opening down your chest.
Formal looks often cover more of your body because formal is also very conservative.
Because of the higher button placement, a double-breasted jacket has a shorter and often thinner lapel. This is a staple of formal wear.
No matter how you style your double-breasted jacket, it won’t be suitable for informal occasions.
Single-Breasted vs. Double-Breasted Suit Fit Differences
For the most part, single-breasted vs. double-breasted suits follow many of the same fit guidelines.
There are some exceptions, however.
Double-breasted jackets have a more boxy shape than single-breasted.
This is a side effect of the button placement and needing to be able to close the buttons easily.
Double-breasted jackets are typically longer to cut down on some of the boxiness of the suit jacket.
Single-breasted jackets generally end around mid-crotch, but double-breasted jackets should end just past the crotch.
The extra length helps even out the harsh outline of the jacket. Still, both suit jackets should follow your natural contours as much as possible.
A close fit helps provide a tailored effect for your suit.
Differences in Fabric Options
Both single-breasted vs. double-breasted suit styles have a variety of fabrics open to them, but the former present more options.
Double-breasted suits have two strikes against them that rule out certain fabrics.
First, they are more formal, so casual fabrics like cotton won’t be an appropriate match.
And secondly, double-breasted suits are too much material for warm weather, so, again, only cold-weather fabrics would be a good fit.
Whichever suit style you choose, the material should be a high-quality fabric. Wool is the ideal suit fabric for any style of suit.
Natural fibers are the best quality; avoid synthetics when possible.
Occasions to Wear a Single-Breasted or Double-Breasted Suit
If you own one of each of these suit styles, you’ll be perfectly equipped to dress for any situation.
Double-breasted suits are best for dressy events and dress codes that require the utmost formality.
You can feel comfortable wearing one to most black-tie or professional events.
Double-breasted jackets are excellent attire for an office that expects full business dress.
They’re also perfect for any semi-formal social event, especially when a touch of sophistication is called for.
Single-breasted suits are the pinch hitter of the suit world; you can make one work in almost any setting.
Whether wearing the suit to work at a business-casual office, museum hopping for the day, or swinging by an after-hours office party, this suit has you covered.
Single-Breasted vs. Double-Breasted Suits FAQs
Which one is more stylish: the single-breasted or the double-breasted?
Both can be remarkably stylish, so it is not easy to choose since the setting is essential.
However, a single-breasted suit with a vest is probably the top as far as debonair style goes.
How to fasten a double-breasted suit?
Your double-breasted jacket looks best when it’s fully fastened.
This gives you a nice, detailed appearance that lets others know you care about your appearance.
Can I leave the outside bottom button of a double-breasted suit unbuttoned?
Yes, this is perfectly acceptable.
The only time you can’t leave it unbuttoned is if that is the only functional button; in that case, it must be closed.
Can I button all buttons on a single-breasted suit?
No. You must always leave the bottom button open on your single-breasted suit unless you’re wearing a single-button jacket.
The bottom button looks too stuffy and tight when it’s closed.
Can I wear a vest with a double-breasted suit?
Mostly, no. Most double-breasted suits are two-piece only since they already have enough fabric.
So it’s been done, but there’s a reason it isn’t done often.