Doubling Down: The Ivy League Double-Breasted Blazer


Prompted by a post on Roger Sterling’s “acid drenched swinger” look, contributor James Kraus sent us the above scan from a 1966 Sears Christmas catalog showing a couple in matching ensembles of double-breasted blazers and ascots.

The natural shoulder, double-breasted sack is a bit of an anomaly in Ivy, and one which fell out of vogue relatively quickly when compared to the more enduring tailoring styles that the look has to offer. Nevertheless I think it’s an interesting jacket. With its straight hanging lines, soft shoulders, and just the faintest hint of a peaked lapel, the Ivy appropriation of the double-breasted gives the jacket an easy, sweater-like fit. Note that the couple above is also wearing button-down shirts with their double-breasted blazers. Here’s a DB with buttondown from an old Brooks catalog:

DB sack 4

Another, this one from Japanese Ivy mecca Tailor Caid:

DB sack 3

And finally a vintage specimen from the Newton Street Vintage archive. We’ll leave the matter of the ascot for another time. — ZD

DB sack

35 Comments on "Doubling Down: The Ivy League Double-Breasted Blazer"

  1. James Redhouse | March 28, 2014 at 12:18 am | Reply

    One assumes that the photo of the Japanese gent is an early April Fool’s joke, as are the overcoat-sized buttons on the Newton Street Vintage blazer.

  2. I have an older J Press DB four-on-two sack blazer that I love. The inside label proudly states that it’s a poly/wool blend, and it also has a very nice repp-stripe lining. It lacks the patch pockets, but does have silver buttons with “1902” and a fence/gate on them. Looks a great deal like the BB image, right down to the two-button cuffs.

  3. James Redhouse, why are you such a hater? You sound like Muffy “Daddy only wore 3/2 blazers from J. Press, the hook vent was a must.”

    You guys need to branch out a little. This is the 21st century, ya know!

  4. James Redhouse | March 28, 2014 at 9:33 am | Reply


    A “hater”?

    Both photos are laughable. The first because it portrays an old gent who has been turned into a clown as the victim of somebody’s cruel sense of humor; the second because it portrays a decent jacket ruined by out-of-proportion buttons found in mommy’s sewing box.

    The Muffy reference is irrelevant here, but in any case she deserves to be respected as a lady who does not think that we should trample on standard simply because we’re in the 21st century.

  5. Very large buttons seem to be a common feature of DB blazers (see, e.g., Prince Charles), but I think what makes the large buttons on these two blazers look especially strange is that they have buttonholes instead of shanks. In other words, the buttons look to be metal, but in the style of a horn button instead of the typical solid front (often crested) buttons that one usually sees on DB blazers.

    The first blazer also looks odd to me due to the patch pockets – they seem out of place with a DB.

  6. I own a Hickey Freeman DB styled like the Brooks Bro. cat. image. Navy tropical gaberdine, brass buttons, a delight to wear, like wearing pajamas to work. You can call me Admiral Mac. 😉

    Love the shoes in the first image.

  7. Sorry, shoes in the second image, on the “Japanese gent”. We’d call those what “spectator pennys”? I own those too, Cole Haans in tan & white.

  8. King Richard The Forty-Fourth and I have discussed this for some time. Seems the DB never had a strong place in the genre because it was never fully embraced on campus. It was more what one’s father wore.

    Coincidentally, I’ve got a long article all about the DB in the current issue of The Rake. I’ll see if I can get a PDF from them to share.


  9. DB McWeeberton | March 28, 2014 at 2:38 pm | Reply

    I kind of love the tidiness of those 60s DB blazers, but it’s really hard to go out of the house in one…

  10. Man up, fellows; if you can ‘go out of the house’ in monk shoes, for example, with or without socks, or anything in madras, you can in a double breasted blazer. In fact, I frequently wear a double breasted blazer and madras trousers, though not, of course, monk shoes of any description.

  11. Minimum yacht length requirements of 50′ for sail-powered and 65′ for motor-powered (with an exception for vessels of either type over 50 years old and under 30′ retailing for over $500,000) will be strictly enforced.

  12. Ted Baxter and Jack Cassidy used to wear double-breasted blazers. Case closed.

  13. Mr. Redhouse, it appears that “Dave” is part of the post-literate generation, a people for whom there are no objective standards. Since there are no objective standards, all standards are therefore subjective and personal; it follows from that that the only reason one could possibly disapprove of something (or someone) is because one “hates” that thing (or person).

    More here: Post-Literacy and the Refusal to Read. See especially the comments for an exploration of this idea.

  14. OMG! I’m in love with the woman in the blazer in image # 1! Where was she when I was looking for elegant women in blazers in the 1960s?

  15. Henry,
    Re: Post-Literacy and the Refusal to Read
    Very interesting read. Mind you, I only read 98% of it! 🙂

  16. @Henry

    Thank you very much for the Post-Literacy link.
    One of the unexpected bonuses of following this blog.

  17. Not a fan of the 4×2 closure, but 4×1 works for me (I wear short, not regular, sized jackets). The overlarge buttons are not my favorite either.

    I the Japanese gent’s shoes. That’s the only nice thing I have to say about him, so shall say nothing more.

    M Arthur, Labrador,

    I’m glad you enjoyed the article. There’s a follow-up, Post-Literacy Continued.

  18. Re: Post-Literacy and the Refusal to Read

    He lost me at “incentivize.” And he’s a professor of literature?

  19. 1980s New Haven — DB blazer was the standard uniform of curators and associated professors at the British Art Center. Often sported by the most stylish students and the polo team, too.

  20. Don,

    I seldom let single words stop my reading; it’s generally overall style—or lack thereof—that is make-or-break for me. Also, even people who are very careful about how they write and speak may sometimes let an infelicitous neologism into their writing or speech. My personal bugbear is impact used as a verb—even though I can’t stand it, I sometimes hear myself saying it!

  21. Henry

    So you don’t read my post? 😉

  22. I always read your posts, MAC. I just don’t always feel I can expound upon them.

  23. J.PRESS offers a four button unearthed DB blazer in navy and camel. Excellent look!

  24. *undarted, though depending on your perspective perhaps it was indeed unearthed

  25. Sweet and Lovely | March 31, 2017 at 11:54 am | Reply

    A spread collar shirt, cufflinks, and black cap-toe balmorals (cracked or otherwise) would look absolutely perfect with a double-breasted navy blazer.

  26. I had one from Paul Stuart in the late sixties- early seventies.
    If I recall correctly, it had a center vent. That was the first and
    last article of double-breasted tailored clothing, other than overcoats,
    that I have owned. I found it uncomfortable- opening and closing
    it all the time. Unlike single breasted jacket, it looked odd when left open.
    It was very flattering, nevertheless.

  27. Henry Contestwinner | March 31, 2017 at 6:50 pm | Reply

    Roger Sack, why would you unbutton it “all the time”? The only time a properly-fitting double-breasted jacket needs to be unbuttoned is when doffing it.

    How odd that it had a center vent. DBs are nearly always either unvented or double-vented. Maybe it was a short-lived fad, such as the awful notch lapelled DBs of the New Wave 80s.

    • Sitting in a DB is not comfortable for me so I unbuttoned it when I sat.
      A SB jacket is often worn unbuttoned especially when wearing a vest.
      As I said before, a DB on me is flattering i often try them on when I shop.
      But comfort takes precedence over vanity in my case

  28. I wore one made by Brooks Red Fleece for my engagement photos. Haven’t since. A one time wear.

  29. Contrary Flâneur | April 26, 2017 at 6:17 pm | Reply

    Press offered DB blazers with side vents [& Burberry labels]. See late-1970s/early-1980s catalogues. Buttons were solid brass disks.

  30. For another example of one of these that is strikingly similar to the first picture (oddly small, closely-grouped, plain brass buttons [though these seemingly have thread holes] and narrow lapels [for a double-breasted]), see the album cover of Sam Cooke’s “Twistin’ the Night Away”:
    It’s also a splendid tune if you haven’t heard it. And in matters of our interest here, it contains a phrase oft-misheard as “chicken slacks” (actually “chick in slacks”) which I’ve become fond of in and of itself, as it describes skintight pants all too well!

  31. Jonathan Masters | April 12, 2021 at 11:17 pm | Reply

    Sitting in a buttoned-up DB?
    Hardly worth the effort; Double Trouble, one might say.

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