Unfuddying the DB Jacket


Of all the notions to make the young man-about-town shiver in fear, there’s nothing quite as soup-stained, floral-carpeted and suffocatingly musty as fuddy duddyness.

A sleek young chap in his slim dark jeans and grey flannel blazer draws a hand through his smooth hair, fresh from a cocktail in some private Soho haunt that no one knows about (but pretends they’ve heard of) he glances sideways at the slow-moving traffic on Regent Street, and marches across the empty road with an admirable air of ownership, his sleek Gaziano & Girling shoes skipping onto the kerb.

Waiting, on the other side of the grand thoroughfare, is what is affectionately termed ‘an old boy.’ Of advanced years, he looks around with a sense of dread, unsure of the London that is – quite unlike the London he knew – he tentatively looks both ways, his arms nervously clasped behind the back of his blue double-breasted blazer, his grey Farah trousers falling onto a pair of black polished-but-shapeless comfort shoes; his regimental tie suggests he has spent the afternoon at a dusty old club on Pall Mall.

One glance at the ‘old boy’ and most would dismiss him as a fuddy duddy, a crusty. And not, as one would think, by his age.

No indeed. Many would make the same judgment about a man half his age if he happened to be wearing that erstwhile symbol of the Riviera yacht club, that tunic of the golf-club generation; the brass buttoned double-breasted navy blazer.

The issue with the double-breasted aesthetic is that it requires consideration of three very important things: three ‘F’s – fit, fabric and fittings. Designers of off-the-rack double-breasted suit jackets and blazers often get these things horrendously wrong and there are also many tailors who will robotically recommend only the ‘traditional’ to their clients. Here is a guide on avoiding fuddy duddyness in when double-breasting.


Firstly, it is far harder to achieve a satisfactory cut in a double-breasted jacket than a single breasted jacket. Off-the-rack versions are notoriously block-like and lack the shape at the chest and waist of single-breasted equivalents. A good alterations tailor will be able to whittle something out of it, but the best solution is to get it made-to-measure.

Avoiding fuddy duddyness: ensure that the jacket is cut as slim to the waist as possible, and slightly shorter than standard.


Navy DB blazers and suits are often made in mid-weight fine wools and, perish the thought, wool-blends. They’re suitable fabrics for suits and blazers but very much the stereotypical Conservative Club aesthetic. Avoid.

Avoiding fuddy duddyness: Use mid-to-heavy weight flannels for suits and sackcloth for blazers. They have a matte texture and more rugged, less refined character that separates them from the expected fine wools.

Fittings (blazer)

The brass six-button DB blazer is a thing of beauty but, much like Pachelbel’s Canon, the Mona Lisa or a red rose, overplayed and nauseatingly ubiquitous. No matter how much you experiment – darker, lighter, plain, engraved, beaten, polished – the effect is still that of an inescapable uniform.

Avoiding fuddy duddyness: If you insist on metal buttons on a blazer, choose chrome or gunmetal. The latter are more subtle. For something more even more recherché, choose brown horn buttons; you’ll hardly see them, but that’s rather the point. If you are confident you want to avoid any hint of the classic blazer aesthetic, choose a four-button model with dark horn buttons.


Winston Chesterfield is an amateur composer, fashion blogger, trained lawyer and style aficionado. He lives in Westminster, London and blogs at www.levraiwinston.com.


  1. Another difficult with DB is who to deal with them when you sit. Once you unbutton them they have a tendency to lose their shape.

  2. Well written. Enjoyed reading this, especially the opening para.

  3. I recently bought a navy blue DB blazer, with shiny buttons and all.
    Though the same size and many other jackets I own, if feels huge and baggy, and I really have to get it taken in somehow before the summer.

    And the shiny buttons have to go. Pewter maybe would work.