Aside from formal evening attire, double-breasted suits used to be as formal as it gets when it came to suits. You may have a couple of them in your closet and you’re not quite sure how you can incorporate your DB jackets into your current wardrobe, you came to the right place!
Ways To Dress Down Your DB Suit/Jacket
1. Do Pair Your DB Jacket With More Casual Pants & Shirts.
Specifically, that means skip the white or pale blue shirt and instead, go with something maybe in a washed denim. Alternatively, you could also go with flannel because it makes you look softer and more relaxed. In terms of colors, consider earthy tones and pastel tones in the range of brown, ivory, or yellow. These warm colors are perfect when combined with a double-breasted jacket. Alternatively, you can go with check shirts ideally with some color such as maybe red or blue, maybe green, or something darker but you want to incorporate color because that sets the shirt apart from a formal business shirt. For your pants or trousers, it means that you can go distinctly more casual.
You can either go with corduroys in the summer, maybe with some linen blends, maybe moleskin, or anything else that’s considered casual except maybe jeans because they’re just too informal. Of course, you can also consider chinos or maybe even a pair of navy suit trousers to combine it depending on your overall look and the feel you want to get. At the end of the day, make sure that your trousers contrast your double-breasted jacket.
2. Do Pair Your DB Jackets With Informal Accessories & Shoes.
That means skip the oxford and instead go with a monk strap shoe, maybe a double monk or loafers. Traditionally, most men would have never worn a loafer with a double-breasted jacket but it’s something the Duke of Windsor introduced simply because it made everything more relaxed. In terms of shoe colors, brown is your friend, it makes everything more casual but you can even go a little further, maybe opt for olive green, maybe a light gray, or just something unusual that you wouldn’t find in a classic business wardrobe. That being said, burgundy or oxblood is always your friend. You can also opt for suede shoes because suede is always more casual than a regular calf leather. Choose derbies over oxfords because they’re a little less formal.
If you only have oxfords or only formal derbies, consider getting colorful shoelaces because they really break up the formality of your shoes and make it look like an entirely new pair which is great for casual DB combinations.
If you want to have something around your neck, go with a knit tie, not with a classic silk tie and maybe something in wool or something that’s a little more casual, relaxed, and softer. If you have a worsted jacket, maybe go with a wool pocket square because it tones down the formality. If you have a flannel DB jacket, you can go with something like silk because it’s a contrasting texture and it just rounds out your entire outfit. Overall, get something with colors or patterns, not a plain white linen pocket square because that would be too formal.
3. Consider Skipping Accessories Altogether.
That means no tie and instead of over the calf socks, go with no-show socks, that gives your ensemble definitely a very casual appearance. Of course, the notion of no sock look only works during the summer, otherwise, you’ll be too cold. If you wear a shirt, skip the cufflinks, go with a barrel cuff, you can even leave it unbuttoned for a very casual feel.
4. Get Casual Buttons.
If you have dark horn buttons or maybe plastic buttons, they look very formal. On a double-breasted jacket such as a navy blazer, adding maybe mother-of-pearl buttons in a contrasting white is a clear sign to dress something down. As a general rule of thumb, the lighter the button color and the more contrasting, the more casual the overall look and feel.
5. Play With Your Button Configurations.
Most double-breasted jackets or suits come in a six-two configuration, two of which are buttoned. Traditionally, you’d button the two lower ones which would create a much more formal look. Alternatively, you can leave the bottom button undone or you can button the whole thing just on the bottom row and see how it looks. You could also consider unbuttoning the jigger button on the inside which will cause your lapel to be not as structured and will be a little less symmetrical and therefore, more casual.
Some people will even go as far to button the outside bottom button but the inside top jigger button which really results into a kind of asymmetrical look and I suggest you skip that because it just looks like something is wrong with your suit but people can’t pinpoint it. Overall, it doesn’t make you look more casual but more like someone who has glasses on that are crooked.
6. Pair Your DB Jacket With A Sweater Or Polo Shirt.
Sweaters and cardigans are obviously less formal than dress shirts. For a casual DB ensemble, the turtleneck sweater is ideal because it creates some visual interest in an area where you usually have a neckwear or a bow tie. Because it covers your neck, you’ll feel warmer which is in line with the two layers of fabric in the double-breasted jacket that will keep you warmer than a comparatively single-breasted one. For example, let’s say you have a navy double-breasted suit or a navy blazer, it can look really great with a lighter or medium gray turtleneck sweater.
Ideally, you want a melange thread which means it has multiple colors and when knitted into a sweater, you can have different flecks of color which is a lot more casual than a solid white sweater, for example. Now instead of wearing the suit pants, pair it with a pair of chinos or corduroys and you have a much more casual look. If you find a turtleneck uncomfortable, maybe consider a knitted wool polo shirt, just make sure it has long sleeves, otherwise, it will look odd and don’t go with the seasonality of a double-breasted jacket. In terms of colors, go with ranges of off-white, medium grey, earth tones, or things like a darker green. If you want to add a bit more contrast, you can also make a statement with something in red.
In general, you always want to create a certain amount of contrast between your turtleneck sweater or your polo shirt and your jacket as well as the pants. If you want to dress down a double-breasted jacket in the summer, you can opt for louder shirts with bolder patterns or colors or maybe polo shirts but you definitely want cotton over wool, otherwise, you will overheat.
7. Intentionally Buy More Casual DB Jackets.
Opting for something maybe in a linen fabric or something with a Glen check pattern in gray with colors of maybe purple or green is just a lot more casual and the whole look is easier to pull off. That being said, features like patch pockets versus flap pockets or jetted pockets are always more casual. Moreover, look at the texture of the fabric. A flannel with its hairy texture and touch will always be less formal than a worsted fabric in the same color and weight. Avoid solids and rather go with small patterns such as a Glen check or a small regular check. Definitely, don’t go with a striped jacket because that’s inherently more formal and pairing it down with something more casual is just a clash that is too much.
What To Avoid…
1. Don’t Pair It With Denim Jeans.
Denim is simply too casual and will clash with the formality of the double-breasted coat. Instead, opt for something such as off-white flannel pants, it’s a lot better and more stylish.
2. Don’t Wear It Unbuttoned.
Unless it’s your idea of sprezzatura, I suggest you keep your jacket buttoned that means at least one button somewhere and you can play around with it and find what works for you and your jacket. Otherwise, a DB jacket is not designed to be worn unbuttoned and it will simply look off. If you have a tight double-breasted jacket to begin with, adding a turtleneck sweater will make it even tighter so you may have to play around with the buttoning, otherwise, it looks tight.
3. Don’t Try To Dress Down A Striped Jacket.
A striped DB jacket is a very formal garment that is usually seen on Wall Street or in a business environment. Combining it with a casual sweater and casual pants is simply not something that will work and will always look weird. In the same vein, don’t try to dress down double-breasted tuxedo jackets or dinner jackets, it simply won’t work.
4. Don’t Try To Put Your Hands In Your Pockets.
Yes, it is true, having a hand in your pocket makes you look more relaxed but overall, if you try to just have your hands in your pockets all the time, you end up having your clothes wearing you rather than you wearing the clothes. In my opinion, it is very self-conscious even though some people might do it in Pitti Uomo in the hopes of getting photographed, it’s impractical and not something a confident gentleman would do.