When You Absolutely, Positively Have To Go Tailor Made

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db-one-button-mk2

One of the things we do on BespokeMe is street style photos.  That’s how I encountered the debonair gentleman above. You don’t see this type of double breasted suit very often –with good reason.

Popular with the Duke of Windsor it is sometimes referred to as the ‘Kent’ model. This is in reference to the Duke of Windsor’s brother, George Duke of Kent. He’s accredited with inventing the style, although I can find no definitive proof of this. It’s also called the 4-on-1, because of the four buttons on display only one is fastened.

kent-and-windsor

Conventional wisdom states; if you’re going to wear a double breasted suit you should opt for the 6-on-2 (six buttons on display, two can be fastened). If buying an off the peg suit deviate from this advice at your peril!

Being well dressed doesn’t begin and end with bespoke or made to measure, but every rule has its exception, and the Kent is mine. To make this style work, as it does for gentleman above, you need four key ingredients;

-Firstly, the button has to be placed in just the right place. There is absolutely no room for error, and only consultation with your tailor will see this done right.

-Secondly, you need high armholes. This lengthens the torso preventing the suit from looking too boxy. It also prevents men of average or larger build looking fat.

-Thirdly, you need close fitting shoulders. Too wide and once again the suit will look boxy. Too much cloth across the chest will also allow the suit to gape.

-Finally, you need a full floating canvass. It’s a floating canvas that gives lapels a roll. A fused canvas leads the lapel to lay flat. To work this suit requires a long sweeping lapel with a nice roll.

N.B. You could also add to this list a requirement for slanted pockets, which will provide a sliming affect by making the waist appear narrower and the torso longer.

The chances of getting all these requirements from an off the peg suit, even a good one, is too tall an order.

Ever since my encounter with the gentleman above I’ve had it in mind, and can resist no longer. I’ve decided to try my shirt makers new made to measure suit service after Christmas (no suit made before Christmas will fit afterwards) and have one made up. As much as I love the style, I wouldn’t contemplate it otherwise.


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Andrew Williams blogs at www.bespokeme.com and is based in London. For him style is a frame of mind not just a state of dress.

Comments

  1. Abraxas says:

    Boxy, wrinkled & terribly old fashioned.. sorry.
    Double breasted suits are just unflattering & ugly. Like shawl collars, avoid at all costs.

    Unless ‘portly’ is the look you’re going for…..

  2. Interesting article Andrew. I agree that this model needs tailoring – anything slightly out, and the jacket would just look too broad. The more buttons you have, the greater the illusion of ‘slimness.’

    I don’t agree with Abraxas, but then being a DB fan, I wouldn’t would I? I think people automatically associate DB’s with a ‘portly’ look because ‘portly’ men happen to favour them above single breasted suits. It is the man that makes the suit and not vice versa.

    It is quite possible (and again, you only need to watch a classic Peck or Grant movie or two to know this) for the DB wearer to appear not simply ‘unportly’ but also extraordinarily elegant.

    Prince Charles is the best example of how a gentleman can look thoroughly better and more distinguished than his peers in a properly cut double-breasted suit. His are not boxy and are in fact, increasingly ‘slim’ – perhaps he is having them adjusted for the ‘fashion?’ – and earn him respect from men half his age.

  3. Michael says:

    If you are slim and fit, you will look slim and fit in any properly tailored suit. If you are not, you will not. Prince Charles is the top example, as Mr. Chesterfield rightly pointed out. On our side of the Atlantic, one gentleman known for his double breasted would be David Letterman, the late night talk show host. Granted he never found a button he liked, but I doubt anyone would refer to him as anything other then slim.

  4. Andrew says:

    I think both Winston and Michael have hit the nail on the head. And you certainly wouldn’t describe the two Dukes as looking portly, or the gentleman above.

    Not sure I concur about shawl collar DJs either.

  5. Nick says:

    Looks to me that our gentleman above only has the inner button fastened, perhaps the stem on this button is a little tight, hence the dimpled left hand pocket, but I think the suit and the way he wears it looks fantastic, especially paired with a panama. The perfect look for the older man.

  6. J H says:

    I don’t understand this DB mania either. Duke of Kent looks like he’s wearing a cartboard box. Single breasted would definitely be more flattering. Nowadays, especially, DB looks out of its place. It doesn’t show any function – why are there two rows of buttons, anyway? The old reason (keeping the wind out) doesn’t carry well to modern times. DB just makes people look old (or that they’re desperately trying to look older than they are).

    Personally…I’d never wear one. Never. Shawl collar I would wear (and do wear). I’m 188cm (about 6’2″) tall, 32″ waist, slender and long limbed. I want to accentuate my proportions instead of hiding them and making my frame look boxy. Instead of following the DB fashion (yes, it’s a fashion now) I turn into classics – 2 and 3-rolls-to-2 button jackets. When cut correctly, they look more flattering than any DB ever may achieve on a modern man, making slim people look slimmer and even hefty ones lighter, instead of adding 20 pounds to everyone like DB:s do.

  7. Patrick says:

    Yeah that guy on top doesn’t look that great. A bit unflattering on his frame, especially with the pants breaking so much. Maybe the slanted pockets help to slim him, but they also make him look slouchier.

    Interesting opinions though. Wouldn’t have expected them from followers of a fashion blog like this. Widespread conformity to the safest possible choice is so boring and unimaginative.

    There have been so many photos spreads lately in men’s magazines of the latest examples of a modern double-breasted suit.

    Here’s a modern, shawl-collar, db suit for ya :)
    http://men.style.com/slideshows/mens/fashionshows/S2006MEN/CLOAK/RUNWAY/00280m.jpg