Double-Breasted, The Reader Verdict


We bring our double-breast-fest to a close with the all-important reader vote. Have your thoughts on them changed? And since they play such a tangential role in the trad wardrobe, how many of you even own one? Vote below.

Pictured above, incidentally, is the 1941 Yale swim team. Note DB with buttondown on the left, as well as odd jackets with striped trousers on the other fellas. — CC

[yop_poll id=”30″]

53 Comments on "Double-Breasted, The Reader Verdict"

  1. Yay. I’ve been meaning to add a DB navy blazer to my rotation for awhile. However, I struggle to find one that fits properly.

  2. I love my DB blazers, my wife loathes them. She did however mention that after I had trimmed up and had them taken in at the waist that they looked much better.

  3. BTW, the striped trousers on the other guys seem to match the suit trousers on the DB guy on the left. Perhaps matching suits were their traveling clothes to swim meets. Three of the guys thought it stuff, but one adhered to it.

  4. Wonder how those guys fared in the war.

  5. Vern Trotter | April 2, 2014 at 1:54 pm |

    The two on the left look very sharp and seem to be naturally at ease. The one with the DB suit and perfect collar roll looks like he is wearing an early Brooks number one striped tie.

    The two on the right have a more prole look, as if they are wearing borrowed clothes; note the work shirt, all three buttons engaged, white socks, clunky shoes.

    Yes, it would be interesting to know how they fared during the war. Very nice picture.

  6. A.E.W. Mason | April 2, 2014 at 2:22 pm |

    CC, great piece on DB’s. I have a DB blazer and several DB suits but all with soft or natural shoulders. The above picture is interesting in that it tells me lapel widths (on single breasted jackets) were all over the place at certain times in history. My prediction is that we’ll very soon see a return to a slightly wider lapel.

  7. Herr Doktor | April 2, 2014 at 6:17 pm |

    Like the DB, I own both blazer and suit. Don’t like it with OCBD.

  8. And as Rosie the riveter would said: “double breasted,we can do it” !

  9. Double breasted suits and pleated trousers, usually woolen, were extremely popular until WWII when government-required war rationing prohibited the manufacture of those style – along with women’s pleated skirts – for the duration of the war in order to make more wool available for military uniforms. Cuffed trousers became un-cuffed for the same reason.

    After WWII the GIs who flooded college campuses – including the Ivies – wore their unpleated, uncuffed military khakis, thus making the style an Ivy standard. Probably lots of cavalry twill woolens were available as well since those were standard issue for Army/AF officers dress uniforms that were known as “officers’ pinks”.

    Most men born after 1920 forgot about DB/pleats until they were reintroduced in the 1980s.

  10. Ralph did very nice “officers’ pink” gaberdine trousers in the late 70s and early 80s.

  11. Thanks, Mazama, for introducıng younger readers to the truth behind the supposedly authentic/purist Ivy flat-front trousers. The reason behind this fetish was wartime rationing, period. Pleated-front trousers are the real thing.

  12. There’s something gaudy about double-breasteds –in a modern-day America context. They nudge the gag reflex. Of course, the memories they evoke (for me) are of an era dominated by a loud, shameless greed. No wonder they never ‘took’ among undergrads.

  13. It appears to me, that the guy in the front only buttoned the upper and the lower button of his jacket, leaving the middle one undone. Could this be a joke or an antithesis for the traditional way to button a three button jacket (only with the middle button)?

  14. DB jackets and pleated dress pants, not for me on my dressier clothing! DB’s never, but I do like pleats on some khakis and shorts, not for my dress pants.

  15. The gentleman second from the left looks the most put together. DB guy is drowning in that suit. And the poor guy on the right with the enviable high-waisted pants who got caught mid stride looks like he’s about to bust out of them at any second. Too many post-meet Yoo Hoo’s.

  16. Halby, men generally wore their clothes fuller, with more material, in the 1930s. I think that’s why, to your modern eye, he looks like he’s drowning in his suit. It’s not baggy like the Armani 80s, but then again, neither is it the Pee-Wee Herman/Thom Browne Clown look of recent years. I think it’s at the edge of “fits well”; any more material would be too much, but it could also be cut back a bit here and there for a trimmer look.

    I think the guy in the front (second from right) looks least comfortable in his (borrowed?) clothes, but maybe it’s just because he was caught at the exact wrong moment. The striped-suit-pants-with-odd-jacket look on both men on the right just doesn’t do it for me.

    On the other hand, I think both guys on the left look pretty good.

  17. The second guy from the left is making a snide remark about the guy in the front, and the guy at the far left is amused by it. Anyone want to venture a guess about the comment?

  18. Christopher | April 3, 2014 at 9:21 pm |

    Second-from-left guy looks like Allan Dulles. Dulles would have been about 48 years old at the time the photo was taken (1941) so it is obviously not him; but he bears a passing resemblance to the late diplomat and CIA director.

  19. Is the styling of the DB suit’s full pants that of 1941 or did a swimmer by a suit off the rack?

  20. Dirk Pitt JR | April 4, 2014 at 10:59 am |

    That man has no belt…

  21. He has no belt because his trousers are being held up by suspenders.

  22. that man has a fupa…

  23. MAC,

    Now who’s not reading whose comments? 😉

  24. Henry
    I read your post and agree. I don’t get the younger men’s fetish with “skinny” pants. The iconic post WWII khakis weren’t anything close to tight fitting.

  25. And that’s why Bill’s Khakis are unpopular with a certain segment: the M1 model is made according to WWII specifications. It’s a much looser fit than the current crotch-crunching style so beloved of the iGent.

    On the other hand, the pre-Cultural Revolution style of the late 50s and early 60s was a pretty close fit, though it was the Mods who took it to its skin-tight extreme.

  26. Fletcher G | April 4, 2014 at 10:34 pm |

    The current generation has a fixation on trousers that emphasize their genitals and posteriors. They call this a good fit. We were brought up to call it low-class.

  27. @ Fletcher G,

    I doubt the well-attired aristos of 15th century Europe would have borne your “low-class” slur without a duel. Men’s breeches from the 16th to the 19th centuries could be quite revealing indeed- there’s a painting in some US museum of The Honorable Geo. Washington as a young officer, which I recall as leaving little doubt as to what The Father of His Country might use for “fathering.” And I dredged up from somewhere in my memory a Mark Twain speech to some gentlemen’s club extolling their magnificent “cods.” Drawers of the mid and late 19th century were worn loose because they were made by hand, but a man’s trousers and shirts were certainly cut closer to the body. Not until the Hanes mills begin to spin knitted cottons did store-bought undergarments come into vogue, but those items were still shapeless union suits. Elastic and Y-briefs for men actually appeared in the 1930s with a more fitting-to-form outline. I’ve wondered if these changes influenced the baggier silhouette of men’s clothes from that decade onwards to Ivy style, since historically it has been outer wear that often yielded to the design of under wear. Note that the boxer briefs of today are reminiscent of the cut of 19th century union suits, but have the pouch of 15th century codpieces. Thus, it isn’t too much of a stretch to see the tight crotches and skinny legs of men’s pants as sartorial throwbacks. It is true Ivy style tends to de-emphasize male anatomy. Yet its designs seem to be an exception to many historical trends in men’s clothing. There’s nothing new under the fashion sun.

  28. Philadelphian | April 5, 2014 at 2:19 am |


    They are free to dress like homosexual, narcisslstic gigolos, but let’s not confuse it with ivy league style.

  29. Guys, I’m with you. Tight-fitting clothes are uncomfortable to wear and, to my eye, do not look good because they cause stress wrinkles all over. It signals the very young or someone who wants to keep thinking they are in their twenties. It’s not about body type, either, or sour grapes as was suggested on another thread. I’ve always been slim and have never liked tight-fitting clothes.

    But can we please let go with the ganging up on gay people. Do we really think all gay people dress alike? and that many heterosexual men don’t dress in what is being labeled a gay stereotype?

  30. “Ganging up”? *One* person makes *one* throwaway comment, and now Ivy-Style has become Homophobia Central?

    Get a clue/grip/whatever.

  31. @RJG

    Far from ganging up on “gay” people, Philadelphian was showing his open-mindedness and belief in individual freedom by saying that people were free to dress as they wish.

  32. @ Henry

    Perhaps “ganging up” was an imprecise choice of words. I was referring to the fact that homophobic comments are recurrent in the comments section and have been noticed as such by others before me.

  33. So what? Are you insisting on an ideological straightjacket in which the only acceptable view is the complete acceptance and approval of homosexual behavior and those who engage in it? Are homosexuals and their practices above criticism? Matt Walsh has an excellent analysis of that tyrannical position.

  34. I know, this outrageous equality-for-all thing is so inconvenient. That said, I would much rather have me tyrannizing over you than you tyrannizing over me. My straitjacket is on so tight I can barely type this message.

  35. The issue demands more than flippancy, so I’ll try again.

    If the right to the pursuit of happiness means anything, it means being able to live one’s life in public space without being subjected to prejudicial abuse from other people. If you disapprove of the way people live their lives, then please keep it to yourself. That’s the polite thing to do since no one appointed you to the morals police.

    Beyond basic civility, there are also laws that go to discrimination against people on the basis of group identities such as disability, religion, race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual preferences. If you want to change the laws, write a letter to your representatives in Congress.

    If you ask me whether I think that “homosexuals and their practices are above criticism,” the answer is yes because of the way you formulated your question. Criticizing people on the basis of group identity is prejudice plain and simple. If you call objecting to prejudice tyranny, then what do you call freedom?

    There’s been a lot of talk about the relation between styles of clothing and social values. Are you sure you want to lay claim to bigotry on behalf of WASP tradition and Ivy style?

  36. RJG:

    If anything, gay ivy style has made me even more conservative in my choice of colors and fit.

    The danger is not supposedly homophobic comments on this blog; the danger is that ivy style will be equated with gay style, thanks to the disservice rendered by adherents to gay ivy style.

  37. Ugh. No need to have this debate on this corner of the internet. I say that as someone who prefers slimmer pants.

    The foremost member of the picture looks very uncomfortable, like someone squeezing into a tight place. That’s possibly because his arms are held in a strange way, or the expression on his face. It could also be that he buttoned all the wrong buttons on his blazer and left the middle one unbuttoned. I wonder if he did it to purposely flout the “rules”?

  38. Etymologue | April 7, 2014 at 1:05 pm |


    “For the apparel oft proclaims the man.”

    William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616) ‘Hamlet,’ Act I, Scene iii

  39. There are very few laws against discriminating for gender preference, only one federal one concerning Civil Service hiring. Less than half the states, mostly blue, have hiring laws concerning it.

    Personally, I don’t care one way or the other. I will say I hate whiners.

  40. A.E.W. Mason | April 7, 2014 at 2:44 pm |


    I just noticed your comment of April 2, 2014. That, I think, is the most important comment made so far. And, back then, Yale men signed up, first in line in fact. I’m reminded of the scene from “To Serve Them All My Days” in which the headmaster, welcoming a new teacher (c. 1917) points to graduates in recent class pictures repeating: “He’s dead; he’s dead; he’s dead; shell shocked; he’s dead . . . .”

    Thanks for a lesson in what’s important.

  41. or “Goodbye Mr. Chips” 😉

  42. Ah, here’s an example of self-indulgent yammering far away from the topic at hand. I will agree with MAC, although I prefer the term “whinging” I picked up from my Brit friends as it points to particularly vexatious sorts of complaining. I can’t imagine what “gay Ivy” is, except as some puerile comment from a heterosexual man so uncertain and insecure that he must deprecate others to esteem himself. I’d like BGT to link some internet pix of “gay Ivy” in men’s clothes so I can judge for myself. I know what the term means in reference to that college in New Haven since I have friends whose kids attend.

    My comment provided a quick and dirty run-down of men’s dress in Europe and America which exposed the male anatomy far more than Ivy/traditional men’s clothing did in the 20th century (excluding the Peacock Revolution in the 1960s/1970s). Although expressing no surprise at the current reprise of tightly tailored men’s clothing, I posed a question whether the industrial invention of more form-fitting underwear may have influenced the boxy suits and baggy trousers extant in the 1930s. I ended with a version of the chestnut that All Art is merely reinterpreted art. I specifically did not comment on the pic posted because I fail to glean much beyond what Christian said (and college athletes participate in all sorts of goofy pranks, anyway). Any further conclusions are just “reading in,” an egregious error quite typical of present-day American discourse, i.e., “I don’t really know what I’m talking about, and have little to back up my opinions, but I’m gonna let fly anyway.” I had hoped someone might have responded to my minor query; I’m optimistic that way.

    My “l’esprit de l’escalier” retort to Philadelphian was to suggest that, once he removed the Philly tube…er, cheese steak from his mouth, he might re-read what I wrote, and try to address the relation of under to outer wear, while greatly lamenting with him that, indeed, scores of decades have passed since Philadelphia contributed anything to American culture: the Biddles and Drexels, Marian Anderson, Benjamin Franklin, Stan Getz, Margaret Mead, and Eugene Ormandy being long departed, though Michelle Malkin is not.

  43. @ Bebe

    Stan Getz was from Philly? Interesting.

    I also thought your speculation about new style underwear influencing baggier trousers was interesting, but had nothing to add one way or another.

    @ Etymologue

    In a similar vein: “Language most shows a man; Speak that I may see thee.” Ben Jonson, *Timber*

  44. Straight Arrow | April 8, 2014 at 12:52 pm |


    Might I suggest that you visit York Street and/or Black Fleece if you’d like to know what gay ivy is?

  45. if it weren’t for the gays, ivy style wouldn’t even be relevant anymore.

  46. A.E.W. Mason

    Thanks much for mentioning “To Serve Them All My Days”. It’s on YouTube, worth a watch.

  47. @ Straight Arrow,

    I haven’t shopped either at Press or Brooks for ten years, so I’ve not heard of York Street and Black Fleece.

    Three observations:

    1. York Street “Looks” reminded me of my prep school yearbook. Madras shorts, navy/red windbreakers, and tennis sweaters, though perhaps not yellow sneakers. In the late 1970s/early 1980s guys wore sweaters tucked into their pants. I used to buy round tab collar shirts to wear with my suits from The Custom Shop from the late 1980s until the company was killed by its buyer. BTW, I’d wear the snazzy safari jacket if I had my tailor re-do it in a Hawaiian print like Reyn Spooner or Kahala shirts.

    2. Black Fleece had me in the 1930s, or on the set of a “Thin Man” film. I still have a couple of sweater vests from my grandfather with rather similar check patterns. Are these designs unusual today? Only to the guy whose daily dress is white OCBDs, khakis, and burgundy Weejuns, but then he’s probably too lazy to care. Teenaged and 20s/30s-something guys wear stuff like this. If a man’s past 40, then why’s he bothering to look here?

    3. There’s nothing new, nothing shocking, nothing effeminate, nothing to make me shrink from a gander or even a try-on (except the sizing may not fit me). If an Ivy Style reader thinks otherwise, he (or she) needs a course in the history of men’s clothing. Or go back and read Richard Merkin’s GQ columns.

    I have no idea what “gay Ivy” is. One can say one doesn’t like the fit, the tailoring, the materials, the pattern, the ideas of the designer. Just don’t say it’s “gay Ivy”… unless one is willing to be honest and say the real reason: I don’t like these clothes because I think they are what homosexual men wear, and I don’t like homosexual men.

  48. Straight Arrow | April 14, 2014 at 1:20 pm |


    This has nothing whatsoever to do with whether I like or dislike homosexual men. Many homosexual men have good taste and wouldn’t be caught dead in those flamboyant costumes.

  49. I do need to reply to RJG, but have been unusually busy lately, so have not had the time for the careful consideration his comment requires.

    To chime in on the “gay Ivy” theme, I’d like to add to what Straight Arrow says by observing that clothes send signals about the wearer’s identity. If a certain style is perceived as one frequently worn by homosexuals, then many men will not wear that style so as to avoid being misidentified. In a similar vein, since hoodies are worn by many criminals, it makes sense not to wear a hoodie in order to avoid being misidentified as a criminal. (This doesn’t mean that all criminals wear hoodies, or that only criminals wear hoodies, but we all knew that, right?)

  50. @ Straight Arrow & Henry,

    You guys had me ROFL! Interesting that your comments focused on clothes as flamboyant (archaic word for homosexual from Straight Arrow) and as signal (semiotics as style from Henry) rather than my historical and connective approach to sartorial themes. We’ll agree to disagree ‘cuz I believe anyone who uses “gay Ivy” is simply too pathetic to understand the concept of eccentricity. Which is why American society has nearly always favored the conformity of mice over men. For what American dress is more stultifying than the shape-suppressed, blue-brown-grey-white palette of Ivy League style?

    Straight Arrow, I never accused you personally of any opinion about homosexual men. Please note I used the indefinite pronoun “one,” the usage of which can be, of course, an equivocation. Your comment on good taste is important since it relates to my own on liking/disliking the design itself.

    Henry, my surfing buds and I wear hoodies. The style is warm on cold SoCal winter mornings while watching the waves as well as for recapping the session over coffee from a local roaster. Still, while we disagree, your comments have the force of thought rather than shibboleth. Matt Walsh (never heard of him) is wrong though: bad publicity is bad for business. And for the making of money.

    And that’s the end for my off-topic yammerings.

  51. Um. It’s basically a yes or no question about double-brested jackets. What is going on here?

    I don’t like them. Sometimes I think they look good on some people, but I won’t wear one.

  52. Evan Everhart | May 14, 2019 at 2:37 pm |

    I love double breasted suits, if they are sack cut. Double breasted sack cut suits were a staple of Brooks’ offerings pre-WWII, and I see no problem with them, that said, I don’t like single vented DB suits, those are aberrations and abominations, I wear unvented ones, as double vented jackets seem foppish and silly to me, despite their functionality within certain parameters. I do also like double breasted sack cut blazers in navy (not in burgundy, or bottle green, or yellow), though I find plaid or tweed double breasted blazers to be beyond the pale of good taste and to be lie definitively within the realm of bad and vulgar taste.

    In my mid teens, I got one of my Father’s DB wool cavalry twill suits, it was mid gray, I loved it. The suit was a sack cut, with flat front 6 button 2 with both internal buttons fastening as well, and 3 button cuffs and boutonniere holes on each of the peaked lapels, un-cuffed, high-rise trousers. I wore it until it became too delicate to wear anymore. It was my favorite suit, I miss it still, going on nearly 7 years now. One day when I have more liquidity I’ll commission a duplicate from my Bangkok tailor.

Comments are closed.