What is a Double Breasted Coat? Unveiling its Timeless Elegance in 2023

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what is a double breasted coat

1. The Definition of a Double-Breasted Coat

A double-breasted coat is a type of outerwear that features an overlapping front with two parallel columns of buttons. It is characterized by its distinctive front closure, which consists of two rows of buttons, one on each side of the coat’s front panel. When fastened, the two sides overlap and are secured by the buttons, creating a stylish and sophisticated look.

The double-breasted style originated from military uniforms in the 19th century and has since become a classic and timeless design in men’s and women’s fashion. It is often associated with formal or business attire but can also be found in more casual styles.

History of Double-Breasted Coats

The double-breasted coat style has its roots in military uniforms. It was initially designed to provide extra warmth and protection for soldiers during harsh weather conditions. The overlapping front panels helped to shield against wind and cold temperatures.

In the early 20th century, double-breasted coats gained popularity among civilians as well. They became a symbol of elegance and sophistication, worn by both men and women in various social settings.

Key Features

  • Overlapping front panels
  • Two parallel columns of buttons
  • Secured by buttoning both sides together
  • Sometimes accompanied by a belt or waist cinching detail

2. Describing the Design of a Double-Breasted Coat

Classic Design Elements

A double-breasted coat is characterized by its overlapping front panels and two parallel columns of buttons. This design creates a sense of symmetry and elegance. The front panels overlap to varying degrees, with some coats featuring a significant overlap that almost reaches the opposite shoulder, while others have a more subtle overlap. The number of buttons can also vary, with most double-breasted coats having six or eight buttons.

Additional Design Details

In addition to the basic design elements, double-breasted coats often feature other distinctive details. These may include peak lapels, which are pointed lapels that extend upwards towards the shoulders, or notch lapels, which have a triangular notch where the lapel meets the collar. Some double-breasted coats also have flap pockets on the front panels, adding both functionality and visual interest.

Materials and Colors

Double-breasted coats can be made from a variety of materials, including wool, cashmere, tweed, and even synthetic blends. These materials offer different levels of warmth and texture, allowing individuals to choose a coat that suits their preferences and climate. When it comes to colors, traditional options such as navy blue, charcoal gray, and camel are popular choices for their timeless appeal. However, modern fashion has expanded the color palette for double-breasted coats to include bold hues like burgundy or patterns like houndstooth.

3. The Rise of Double-Breasted Coats in Fashion

The popularity of double-breasted coats in fashion has experienced several waves throughout history. In the early 20th century, they were considered a staple garment for men’s formal wear. Their structured silhouette and sophisticated aesthetic made them a symbol of elegance and refinement. However, as fashion evolved towards more casual and relaxed styles in the mid-20th century, double-breasted coats fell out of favor.

It wasn’t until the 1980s that double-breasted coats experienced a resurgence in popularity. This was largely due to the influence of power dressing, which emphasized strong and assertive looks in professional settings. Double-breasted suits and coats became synonymous with authority and success during this era. Since then, double-breasted coats have remained a classic choice for both men and women, adapting to changing fashion trends while retaining their timeless appeal.

4. Distinguishing Features of a Double-Breasted Coat

Button Placement

The most distinguishing feature of a double-breasted coat is its button placement. Unlike single-breasted coats that typically have buttons on one side only, double-breasted coats have buttons on both sides of the front panels. The buttons are aligned in two parallel columns, creating a symmetrical appearance when fastened.

Overlap and Closure

The amount of overlap between the front panels can vary depending on the style of the coat. Some double-breasted coats have a significant overlap that almost reaches the opposite shoulder, while others have a more subtle overlap. The coat is closed by crossing one side over the other and fastening the buttons on the opposite side.


Double-breasted coats often feature distinctive lapel styles. Peak lapels are characterized by their pointed shape that extends upwards towards the shoulders, adding an element of sophistication to the coat’s design. Notch lapels, on the other hand, have a triangular notch where the lapel meets the collar, offering a more traditional and versatile look.


Many double-breasted coats have flap pockets on the front panels. These pockets not only provide functional storage space but also add visual interest to the coat’s design. The flaps can be left tucked in for a cleaner look or pulled out for a more casual and relaxed appearance.

5. Single-Breasted vs. Double-Breasted: Understanding the Difference

The main difference between single-breasted and double-breasted coats lies in their button placement and closure style. Single-breasted coats have buttons on one side only, typically aligned vertically down the center of the front panels. They are closed by overlapping one side over the other and fastening the buttons on the same side.

In contrast, double-breasted coats have buttons on both sides of the front panels, arranged in two parallel columns. They are closed by crossing one side over the other and fastening the buttons on the opposite side. This creates a more structured and formal appearance compared to single-breasted coats.

Another difference is that single-breasted coats often have notch lapels, which are more versatile and suitable for various occasions. On the other hand, double-breasted coats commonly feature peak lapels or notch lapels with a more pronounced triangular notch, adding an extra touch of elegance to their design.

When to Choose Single-Breasted or Double-Breasted

  • Single-breasted coats are generally considered more versatile and can be worn in both formal and casual settings.
  • Double-breasted coats are often favored for formal occasions or when aiming for a sophisticated and powerful look.
  • The choice between single-breasted and double-breasted ultimately depends on personal style preferences and the desired level of formality for a particular outfit or event.

6. Common Fabrics for Making Double-Breasted Coats

Double-breasted coats can be crafted from a variety of fabrics, each offering its own unique characteristics and benefits.


Wool is a popular choice for double-breasted coats due to its excellent insulation properties. It provides warmth and comfort, making it suitable for colder climates. Wool also has natural water-repellent qualities, keeping the wearer dry in light rain or snow.


Cashmere is a luxurious fabric known for its softness and warmth. Double-breasted coats made from cashmere offer a high level of comfort and elegance. Cashmere fibers are derived from the undercoat of cashmere goats, resulting in a lightweight yet insulating material.


Tweed is a classic fabric often associated with British heritage and country attire. Double-breasted coats made from tweed exude timeless charm and sophistication. Tweed’s durable nature makes it suitable for colder seasons, providing both warmth and style.

Synthetic Blends

In addition to natural fibers, double-breasted coats can also be crafted from synthetic blends such as polyester or nylon. These materials offer durability, easy maintenance, and affordability while still providing warmth and protection against the elements.

7. Seasonal and Climate Suitability of Double-Breasted Coats

The seasonal suitability of double-breasted coats depends on the fabric used in their construction as well as the climate they are worn in.

Winter Coats

Double-breasted coats made from wool or cashmere are ideal choices for winter wear. Their insulating properties help keep the wearer warm in cold temperatures, while the overlapping front panels provide an extra layer of protection against chilly winds.

Transitional Coats

For milder climates or transitional seasons like spring and fall, double-breasted coats made from lighter fabrics such as cotton or linen blends can be suitable. These coats offer a stylish outer layer without being too heavy or warm for moderate temperatures.

Summer Coats

In hot summer climates, double-breasted coats may not be the most practical choice due to their heavier construction. However, lightweight options made from breathable fabrics like linen can still provide a stylish and slightly more formal alternative to casual summer jackets.

8. Variations and Adaptations of the Traditional Double-Breasted Coat Style

Cropped Double-Breasted Coats

A variation of the traditional double-breasted coat is the cropped style. These coats have a shorter length that typically falls above the hips or at waist level. Cropped double-breasted coats offer a modern and youthful twist on the classic design, making them versatile for both casual and dressier outfits.

Belted Double-Breasted Coats

Some double-breasted coats feature a belt at the waist, adding definition and accentuating the wearer’s silhouette. The belt can be removable or integrated into the coat’s design. Belted double-breasted coats offer a more tailored and feminine look while retaining the elegance of the traditional style.

Oversized Double-Breasted Coats

Oversized fashion has gained popularity in recent years, and this trend has extended to double-breasted coats as well. Oversized double-breasted coats feature a looser fit with exaggerated proportions, creating a relaxed yet stylish aesthetic. They are often seen in neutral colors or bold patterns, making a statement in any outfit.

9. The Evolution of Popularity for Double-Breasted Coats

The popularity of double-breasted coats has evolved over time, reflecting changes in fashion trends and societal norms.

Early 20th Century

In the early 20th century, double-breasted coats were widely embraced as a symbol of sophistication and formality. They were commonly worn by men for formal occasions and business attire. The structured silhouette and attention to detail made them an essential part of a gentleman’s wardrobe.

Mid-20th Century

During the mid-20th century, fashion shifted towards more casual and relaxed styles. Double-breasted coats fell out of favor as single-breasted options became more popular. The focus was on simplicity and practicality rather than the formal elegance associated with double-breasted coats.

1980s Power Dressing

The resurgence of double-breasted coats came in the 1980s with the rise of power dressing. This era emphasized strong and assertive looks in professional settings, with double-breasted suits and coats becoming a symbol of authority and success. The broad shoulders and structured design exuded confidence and power.

Modern Adaptations

In recent years, double-breasted coats have adapted to contemporary fashion trends while maintaining their classic appeal. Designers have introduced variations such as cropped lengths, oversized fits, and unique fabric choices to cater to diverse style preferences. Double-breasted coats continue to be favored by those seeking a sophisticated yet fashionable outerwear option.

10. Famous Individuals Who Have Worn Double-Breasted Coats

Humphrey Bogart

The iconic actor Humphrey Bogart was known for his impeccable style, often seen wearing double-breasted coats in his films. His portrayal of characters like Rick Blaine in “Casablanca” solidified the association between double-breasted coats and timeless elegance.

David Beckham

Former professional footballer David Beckham is renowned for his fashion-forward choices. He has been spotted wearing double-breasted coats on numerous occasions, showcasing their versatility and ability to elevate any outfit.

Meghan Markle

The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, has embraced double-breasted coats as part of her sophisticated and chic wardrobe. Her fashion choices have influenced trends worldwide, making her a prominent figure in the resurgence of this classic style.

Tom Hardy

Actor Tom Hardy has frequently been photographed wearing double-breasted coats both on and off the red carpet. His rugged yet refined style exemplifies the versatility and appeal of this timeless outerwear option.


Singer and fashion icon Rihanna has showcased her love for double-breasted coats through various stylish ensembles. Her ability to effortlessly combine high-fashion pieces with streetwear elements has made her a trendsetter in the world of double-breasted coat fashion.

In conclusion, a double breasted coat is a stylish and classic outerwear option that features two parallel columns of buttons on the front. It adds sophistication and elegance to any outfit while providing warmth and protection during colder seasons.

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