The three-button suit with its top two buttons closed.
Gary Cooper demonstrates the classic ru: toning of a three-button suit with its center button closed.
30TT0M: Jean Cocteau shows the larger "V" opening of the two-button suit.
The Single-Breasted Suit The single-breasted two-piece is the mainstay of most men's suit wardrobes. Early single-breasted suits were usually three-button, mostly with notch lapels, and always vested. Following the lines of its two progenitors, the riding jacket and then later on. the morning coat, the single-breasted lounge coat made the transition from country to city when its curved f ronts were cut away below the waist button. As the curve prevented the bottom button from fastening, the top button was worn undone to balance the trio, giving the lounge suit a distinctly degage air.
An alternative mode of wearing the three-button coar was to fasten its top two buttons, although the lapel had to be designed to roll high enough to permit the top button to be closed. Compared with the openness of Mr. Cooper's single-button fastening, this arrangement closes tip the coat, somewhat formalizing the presentation. Its two upper buttons also form a vertical line in front, promoting a more up and-down dynamic, thought to add length to a man's torso. I Icrc is an elegant Apparel Arts stripling taking in all measure of three-button stylishness.
Warm weather found men removing their vests, and over rime, the matching vest's high "V" front began dropping lower and lower. Not surprisingly, the three-button jackets high-button stance was likewise lowered, ushering in rhe two-button suit model. Ultimately eclipsing the three-button in popularity; the two-button with its open front not only exposed the wearer's furnishings to better advantage, but its darts and defined waistline gave occupants a trimmer look. Who says that the con servative two-button business suit necessarily stifles self-expression? This classic dark worsted doesn't seem to have inhibited Jean Cocteau from imposing his stamp of individuality on it.
The three-button suit with its top two buttons closed.
The Single-Breasted Peak Lapel Suit In the 1920s, the peaked lapel masterminded the metamorphosis of the male torso. Throughout the interwar period, whether for single- or double-breasted suit jackets, overcoats, or blazers, pointed revets or lapel peaks spearheaded the popularity of the V-shaped male chest. The acceptance of the single-breasted dinner jacket with peaked lapels in the late twenties ultimately spilled over into daywear.
By rigging a single-breasted jacket with a double-breasted rever. this lapel treatment virtually neutralized the double- breasted edge in formality. This option offered particular relict in the summer months, since single-breasted sty les eliminated the warmth of the DBs overlap ping fronts. Rarely found on ready-to- wear racks, this mildly offbeat suit model remains pretty much confined to the custom tailored crowd. Bespoke and vested with walking stick in hand, two of the I lome Country's better-upholstered public servants. Sir Anthony Eden and Sir Samuel I loarc. show their take on the smartly stocked city wardrobe.
Sir Anthony Eden and Sir Samuel I loarc in single-breasted peak-lapel suits that spearheaded the popularity of the V-shaped male chest.
OPPOSITE TOP: Adolphe Menjou in a natty, classic double-breasted suit.
The Duke of Kent in the "Kent," a longer-line version.
The Double-Breasted Suit Prior to World War 11.single-and double breasted suits sold in almost equal numbers. As the driving force behind tailored menswear in the twenties and thirties, the double breasted suit's most popular rendering was the six-on-rwo button front, with broad lapels marking a high waist and straight ventless tails hugging cylindrical hips. Long, wide trousers supported this columnlike shape, serving as the base of an athletic silhouette that came to define masculine elegance throughout the period.
Actor Adolphe Menjou's wardrobe was supposed to have been a virtual anthology ol men's fashion. Reportedly; it included at least one jacket from every famous European tailor up through 1956. I lere's one of his killer DB's. natty in even nuance, from its soft, contoured shoulders
and smoothly draped chest dow n to his full-cut trousers' symmetrical and centered crease.
When America's elite adopted London's famous drape cut as their own. new double breasted versions emerged One model in particular spir ited itself to the top of the charts, the six- or four-button front with lapels designed to roll down below the waist and fasten on the bottom burton. Known as the "Kent." ii was named after the Prince of Wales's younger brother. Prince George, the Duke of Kent, who was generally credited with its introduction in the late twenties. Because its longer lapel line extended through thi- waistline, less emphasis was placed on the waist, rluis gi\ ing the w earer an illusion of height. Nor only did the Kent seduce the superbly proportioned. its stylish swagger curried particular favor with the short and srour.
As to its style ranking, the double-breasted suit is to the single-breasted w hat the pleated pant is to the plain front, incrementally more stylish. T he DIVs pointed, diagonal lapels spiff up any worsted wool with a slightly dressier panache. Because the jacket's overlapping fronts look tidier when squared up. one of their front buttons should be fastened to exploit the model's inherent swank. Like the pinned dress shirt collar or suspendered trouser. the DB suit requires a bit more aplomb to ellect a natural stylishness.
Men are creatures of habit. When servicemen returned from World War 11, they opted for the single-breasted suit, having become accustomed to its comfort and case of wear during their military service. As a result, the fifties witnessed the popular decline of the DB. With rheexcep rion of a few random periods of limited renaissance, the double- breasted s principal proponents hav e been the custom tailors and their style-conscious clientele. Although its appeal comes and goes, as long as men regard the dress suit as a symbol of male elegance and authority, the double-breasted suit will always justify its inclusion in the top-echelon wardrobe.
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