This Season's Shape: The Double-Breasted Coat

It's cold. You're stylish. Do you forgo the extra layer in the name of looking incredible? Or do you sacrifice style for a warm glow? It's a trick question, of course. The answer is secret option number three: the double-breasted coat. It's back.


The double-breasted coat isn't for everyone. It takes a certain build to make the extra bulk work for you. If you're tall, go for it. Muscular types will also find it a flattering look. Anyone shorter than tall should steer clear of the double-breasted coat, as the broadening effect will also have a shortening effect. There's a preferred length, too, and it's about two inches shorter than knee-length. This is the perfect balance of leg lengthening and element protection. You - and your clothes - will be protected from winters sadistic streak, whilst your legs avoid the truncated look. However, the new double-breasted look is shorter than before, so keep an open mind with regard to length it's the fit that is non-negotiable (more on this later).


So how did double-breasted saunter back in through fashion's front door? The single button jacket was doing just fine, flattering more than offending, asserting itself as the alpha jacket. But then Samuel L Jackson threw on a DBJ for the UK premiere of Captain America. Worn with a shirt and tie, but then casual pants, pumps and the ubiquitous hat, it looked far more street than red carpet. The catwalk and high street are also showing that double breasted coats aren't solely for keeping your suit dry. You can do the look casually and sport the double breasted coat as a piece in its own right. Here are some ways to do double-breasted without the formality:

    • Take a look at the range of colours on offer. Navy and grey coats will provide a solution most mornings, sidling up to most shades and looking perfect most of the time. Simple. But there are other options and you should definitely give these your consideration, particularly if your existing coats are all navy or grey. Scarily close on the timeless front, camel is a classy option that has the bonus of helping you to stand out in a navy-grey sea. You'll feel expensive and people will probably want to stroke you. Khaki green is another shade that will cover a lot of bases. Military and heritage continue to be strong trends and this low-key green fits the bill on both counts, so is likely to be a worthy investment.

    • Pair with a jumper to bring the look down from corporate to casual. Turtlenecks and cable knits both work well with double breasted coats.

    • Choose hiking boots over brogues. This prevents you looking as though you are on your way to the office, instead suggesting rugged manliness. You could be going to save a trapped animal or something equally heroic.


While there is a great deal of scope in what you wear with your double breasted coat, the coat itself must be impeccable. Cut is key, so checking the fit is essential. If you can get an expert eye, or your most discerning mate, to scrutinise the fit of your coat, so much the better. If you're shopping alone, look for great tailoring and step away from anything that looks or feels too big, even by a fraction. The double breasted coat already incorporates more fabric than other styles: a coat that envelops you won't do you any further favours. This style is often worn undone, so any extra fabric will flare outwards, feel unnecessary and look quite unflattering.The other area to consider is the shoulders: double breasted styles can result in a boxy effect, which isn't desirable. Make sure you're not looking hunched or as though you're wearing shoulder pads. Again, it's about letting the style flatter you, not drown you.


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