The History of Double Breasted jackets has rather been interesting. Contrary to popular belief, the double-breasted jacket has its origins in the early nineteenth century as a casual garment also called the ‘reefer’ jacket. It was considered quite casual and worn by people for sporting events and events taking place in the countryside.
It later evolved to being worn for formal occasions as championed by the Duke of Windsor- who was considered a trendsetter at the time. After he wore it to official engagements and outings as a formal two piece suit it gained acceptance as a formal piece of clothing. It also became the de-facto dress code among heads of state in various countries for official engagements in their home country or overseas.
The 1930s and 1940s saw important people in banking, finance and heads of state wearing double-breasted suits. It was often seen as a powerful symbol with people of prominence and aristocratic lineage wearing it for day to day engagement.
The 80s, 90s and part of the 20th century saw the double-breasted suits losing their flair with people considering it dated as it had been visible quite extensively for five decades. The single breasted two-piece and three-piece suits found its way into wardrobes during this time being worn for formal and semi-formal occasions.
It was around 2014 that the famed designer Tom Ford re-introduced the large peak lapels. It was done in single-breasted suits and jackets and people took a liking to the prominence of it, making the single breasted suit more formal. Peak Lapels had otherwise traditionally typically been a mainstay of double-breasted suits. This contrarian look added a renewed freshness to the single-breasted suits making people more acceptable to the idea of the peak lapel and the silhouetted slim cut of the single breasted suit.
The rise of the peak lapel in jackets led to a resurgence of double-breasted suits and jackets in the past two years and has hence seen classical style complete a full circle. The single-breasted suits and jackets especially with a notch lapel were just becoming too commonly seen and have been much too visible especially with ready to wear. But the main concern people have with double-breasted suits is the fuller cut of the jacket which gives a square form to the entire suit. Lately, the slim silhouetted cut has also been adopted with double-breasted suit jackets as typically has been the case with single-breasted jackets. Also, the lapel width has been made slightly slimmer in comparison to traditional double-breasted suits from the earlier years. This is to keep in line with the slim silhouetted form of the entire jacket.
The style of being effortlessly elegant has seeped into the threads of the double-breasted jacket. It can now be worn with a slightly shorter length as a blazer. Also, the jacket can be deconstructed with it being semi-lined making it quite comfortable to wear it informally. The sartorial quotient is certainly raised when the double-breasted jacket is effectively paired in a manner that strikes the right balance between not leaning over the edge of being too formal and not steering away from being too informal.
Pairing it with cotton chinos in contrasting earthy tones lends it a smart informal look that would still strike a presence among the sea of people wearing single-breasted jackets with a notch lapel. Also with the right shirt worn with an informal collar and accessorizing it further with a pocket square and worn with slip-on loafer shoes would complete the entire balancing act. This style with certain aspects of formality being blended with the effortlessness of informality is an effective sartorial statement
The double-breasted jacket has definitely come back after a sabbatical and has evolved with renewed vigour. With people viewing it with enthusiasm lately, it will soon become a staple into their wardrobes lending a distinguished look among the discerning.
Gala Dinners and Award Ceremonies around the world usually adopt a “Black Tie” dress code. Unlike its literal meaning, Black Tie in this context means to wear a Dinner Jacket, which is more commonly known today as a Tuxedo Suit and is considered the most formal attire for a gentleman.
What Is Tuxedo Suit?
A Dinner Jacket or Tuxedo Suits have a few elementary characteristics which one should always abide by. Traditionally a Tuxedo Suit is always made of a plain solid black fabric with a Shawl Lapel made in black shiny satin fabric, one satin fabric covered button in the front and no more than three fabric buttons on the sleeve. The trousers are without belt loops and with a one centimetre satin strip running along the outer side seam. This is worn traditionally with a black satin cummerbund and a white pleated tuxedo shirt made with a wing tip collar to wear a black bow-tie and French cuffs for black cufflinks. The entire ensemble is then topped off with black studs on the shirt and black shiny patent leather shoes which are oxfords, brogues or whole cuts.
Over time a few details with regards to traditional tuxedo suits have evolved since everyone following the traditional rules of wearing a tuxedo suit started making everyone looking exactly the same in black tie events with absolutely no way to showcase their individuality. Due to this the shirt is now more commonly worn without pleats and with just black buttons instead of studs. Sometimes even the collar is made to accommodate a regular tie instead of a bow tie and the cummerbund is replaced with a black scooped waistcoat. All this has been gradually done as a conscious decision to look slightly different in a crowd of people in which everyone is wearing a tuxedo suit and has now become an acceptable variation of the traditional tuxedo suit which was originally invented by Henry Poole – The first bespoke tailor on Savile Row, London. However, making yourself stand apart whilst keeping the basic traditional rules of tuxedo suits intact is the true test of having a mature sartorial understanding.
Make Your Tuxedo Suit Stand Apart in Black Tie Events
- You can opt for a dark midnight blue fabric instead of the regular black one in your tuxedo suit.
- You could also add some hints and details by instructing your bespoke tailor to make the pocket jetting on the dinner jacket to be the same black satin fabric as your lapel and make the top border of your breast pocket in that same fabric as well. The lapel can be a peak lapel instead of the regular shawl lapel.
- If you feel you are going to win an award and would like to make the ultimate sartorial statement then you can opt for a dark midnight blue double-breasted tuxedo suit with a black peak or shawl lapel and black fabric buttons on the jacket paired with a black trouser. Wearing a double-breasted tuxedo suit will immediately make a powerful statement and setting yourself apart making others realize that you are a gentleman of high sartorial understanding.
- The final element that will put you at the top of the sartorially refined will be to wear a self-tied black bow-tie which will tell other that you are in the know of the art of tying a bow-tie which can further be made to notice by leaving it open and hanging around your neck towards the end of the event making you achieve the epitome of sartorial elegance with your tuxedo suit.
Tuxedo Suits which were originally created by Henry Poole and Co. – The first Bespoke Tailor and father of Savile Row- appears to be more popular today than the topcoat although both have been around for almost the same amount of time. The Topcoat – that practical piece of outerwear- is the closest connection the modern man has to the supreme elegance of Edwardian and Victorian Tailcoats. Why is the topcoat then not as common a sight as tuxedo suits in today’s time?
This apparently was not always the case. During most of the 19th century in England, the morning coat was standard attire for a gentleman outside of formal occasions and hence more commonly used than Tuxedo Suits. It was single-breasted, finished just above the knee and was made of a wool that, although heavy by modern standards, was not considered the ultimate protection from the elements.
Unlike tuxedo suits, the modern topcoat certainly has echoes in both morning and frock coats. It is interesting to notice how close the topcoat is even to the original late 17th-century suit. This ultimate ancestor of the male bespoke suit became popular during the late 17th century when Charles II returned to England. It comprised a long waistcoat, knew breeches and mid-length coat in the same material.
Of course, there are many ways in which these bespoke coats differ from a modern topcoat and definitely bear no resemblance to the tuxedo suits. Some tailcoats, such as the dress coat, are actually cut square across the waist and don’t fasten in the middle; the morning coat is tapered similarly but sharply at the waist (reflecting its origin as a riding attire). But the most stylish topcoats are also, one could argue, one-or two-button affairs with a similar swish to the skirt, unlike the tuxedo which is strictly one-button.
However, the sharp cut of a topcoat, just like tuxedo suits, certainly connotes glamour. It is the mark of the Man About Town. It swaggers and commands attention. It is old Hollywood with the likes of Fred Astaire in Top Hat or Gary Cooper in just about anything. Fred Astaire, especially wore many things in Top Hat (including a rather fetching and flowing cape) but he is best known for the morning coat that flew behind him as he danced and sang ‘Top Hat, White Tie, and Tails’, surrounded by a similarly clothed backing troupe. Gary Cooper, meanwhile, had a predilection for peak lapel coats with a fly front. Never was he seen with a tuxedo or a dinner suit or anything with even a slight resemblance to a shawl lapel. He is pictured in such a model several times over the years, most famously with Mexican actress Lupe Velez in 1929. And while such a coat has the ability to fasten three or even four buttons for warmth, it is most flattering buttoned to a single, central button and allowed to flow from the waist. The single waist button gives any garment – jacket, topcoat or tuxedo jacket – a fulcrum on which to fix the lapels and begin the long sweep of the foreparts.
The fact that most topcoats and dinner jackets are cut with one waist button and either a peak or a shawl lapel, put them on the formal end of the menswear spectrum – a view that goes back to those original tailcoats. For when the morning coat was originally introduced, in the middle of the 19th century, it was commonly found with both peaked and notched lapels. This was a time when it was considered relatively informal, or half dress, with the frock coat being the most formal option. Gradually, the morning coat replaced the frock coat and was worn almost exclusively with peaked lapels.
The same has happened in reverse with tuxedo suits in the 20th century. More and more are now made with the shawl lapel as men consider them less and less formal (or we have to presume they do, given how willing they are to wear cheap rental tuxedos). One more reason, perhaps, to hold on to the swagger of the topcoat over and above tuxedo suits.
The term ‘topcoat’ has not been used consistently over the years, unlike tuxedo suits which have always had a constant definition. In fact, it dropped out of use entirely at one point and has often been conflated with the overcoat in the nomenclature. We can define it in contrast to the overcoat, as the outer layer that is both shorter and lighter in weight. It finishes on or just above the knew and adds warmth and protection from the elements, but without the bulk of an overcoat. Partly for that reason, it is usually single breasted.
Defining it thus, by virtue of its weight, length, and use helps to understand why the topcoat is so inherently stylish compared to tuxedo suits. It is appealing because it is so versatile. It can be sporty as a blazer over knitwear and jeans or elegant with a suit and tie. Today, the style and range of can be quite vast but the recognizable elements of the close waist and flowing tails are always there. Such is the appeal of the 19th-century tailcoats angular lines and flattering proportions that it has survived, in form if not in name, as every gentleman’s go-to coat.
The workroom where the Master Shoemaker brings Handmade shoes into existence has air that is thick with the rich smell of the finest hides money can buy which hang around the room in a splendid display of chromatic exuberance. At the far end of the room, standing at one end of a rustic wooden workbench is a Handmade shoemaker who is everything one wants a Gaelic artisan to be in appearance is eyeing up a calf hide in rich maroon spread out before him. Actually, the handmade shoemaker is poring over it, his intense resolve crevicing his forehead, the way an aerial sea patroller might survey a coastline for sharks. The handmade shoemaker, having decided he has spotted every flaw and assessed how to work around the defects to maximum effect; he takes his blade and begins creating what will become the uppers of a discerning customer’s next pair of handmade shoes.
The skilled artisan of handmade shoes is key partly because the way you cut the leather determines how much you waste but much more importantly his work also decides the quality of components you have to work with later. The handmade shoemaker needs to be able to spot the defects and cut around them. Any slight defect such as insect bites, wrinkles, scratches where the animal has rubbed against barbed wire will soon become obvious when the patina is applied to the leather. The hawk-eyed handmade shoemaker is also required to pick out veins that are a fraction-of-a-millimeter thick because using any of these will make the leather weaker making it split when the bottom is attached. The handmade shoes need to be made by cutting the leather around them.
The hide which is subjected to such critical scrutiny will make no more than two pairs of shoes. In the case of crocodile skin, two skins are required to make one pair of handmade shoes partly because you need to use the softer, supplier part of the hide with larger scales in the center. It is well known that in handmade shoes if you see smaller scales it means the company has used lower quality side parts of the crocodile and also because the scales need to match given that crocodile skins are like human fingerprints in terms of individuality. This is an extremely tricky matter of value judgment. It means that only one-third of the animal skin purchased will end up as a pair of handmade shoes. It is definitely a costly decision, but it is where the reputation of the company rests on.
Handmade shoes tend to come in clean, narrow versions of classic shapes and are often spruced up by subtle sole engravings, bright piping, or rich patinas in sapphire, olive or dark blue. A common sight in the workroom is a handmade shoemaker armed with special pliers manipulating a lining and leather upper around a last, assessing the tension and pressure with frowning, obsessional vigor, occasionally blasting the leather with a blow heater to make it more malleable before reworking it further. Watching the handmade shoemaker, it feels like eternity before he finally decides to apply the upper evenly using tacks, which serve a similar purpose to baste stitching in bespoke tailoring. If he stretches the leather even a fraction too much before tacking, the upper’s being off center will be noticeable to the discerning customer.
At the patina stage, where the handmade shoes are given the beautiful chromatic finishes that will enable connoisseurs that will recognize the shoes as being distinctly handmade as the colors are brushed on with the loving, ultra-alert sedulousness of an artist applying oil to a canvas. Every artisan of handmade shoes including the one who applies the final touch of detail carries out his role as if the overall quality of the pair of handmade shoes depended on his professional excellence. A place where these children of the Eye known as hand-made shoes breeds passion of excellence with the community encouraging artisanal culture, making one feel pride and a quiet sense of confidence when wearing a pair of handmade shoes.
The custom blazer has long been a divisive garment. In 1800’s, the Lady Margaret Boat Club, the rowing club of St. John’s college in Cambridge, caused quite a stir in the university’s undergraduate community. Like most upper-crust sporting establishments of the time, a uniform was a compulsion, but unlike many dreary buttoned-up uniforms of the early 19th century, the members of the Lady Margaret Boat Club opted to tailor their jackets slightly short in length and in a shocking bright crimson flannel. The rationale behind this remains unclear, but one suspects that the case may be, these bright boating bespoke coats came to be known as Blazers, such was their vivacity. The trend caught on like a blazing fire because some 60 years later a priggish letter submitted to The Daily News queried the identity of the custom blazer, stating: “A Blazer is the red flannel boating jacket worn by the Lady Margaret, St. John’s College, Cambridge, Boat Club. When I was at Cambridge it meant that and nothing else. It seems that a custom-tailored Blazer now means a colored flannel jacket, whether for cricket, tennis, boating or seaside wear.”
Indeed, by the 1890’s the term Blazer was commonly used in reference to all those things, but additionally it had come to be associated with the dark-navy, brass-buttoned, double-breasted ‘reefer coats’ the Royal Navy distributed to sailors to wear when reefing the sails on deck in poor weather conditions. The use of the term was also compounded by the uniforms of the crew of H.M.S Blazer, who was known for wearing bright blue and white striped coats, not dissimilar to collegiate boating blazers, prior to the standardization of the Navy’s uniform.
It is a little-known and often overlooked fact that the early 20th century a custom blazer was a hybrid born of three different dissecting garments; the reefer coat, the colorful sports jackets that were considered appropriate active wear during the 19th century, and the collegiate boating blazer. Precisely how the three came to be molded into one is unknown, but it is clear that the custom blazer’s origin is of the elitist, associated with uniformity, prestige and social exclusivity.
Though it persists in this form, Knights & Lords Bespoke Tailors feel it is high time to acknowledge the democratization of the tailored blazer that has taken place is luxury menswear. Almost out of nowhere the blazer has shrugged off its stuffy and hitherto rather narrow parameters to become a garment that defies definition or any form of a narrow set of rules. As dress codes have softened over the past three years, the custom blazer has become the best barometer for the way in which men’s style is changing.
However, if the blazer has morphed into something more fluid, what is it that has allowed it to evolve? The answer is simple as explained by Ashish & Pawan of the highly venerated bespoke tailoring house Knights & Lords. It is simply a matter of taste. It is something that is easier to sense than to define and hence cannot be confined to the rule of the law. After all, all blazers are sports jackets but not all sports jackets are blazers. All we can agree on is the fact that it is a tailored coat. What kind of tailored coat it may be is something completely dependent on the taste of the wearer.
With this in mind, perhaps the key to the contemporary custom tailored blazer’s success is its softness of aesthetic. It is this relaxation in terms of the cut and construction of a tailored coat that is underpinning the blazer’s evolution. However, according to Ashish & Pawan of Knights & Lords, the texture of a blazer is now as important as its cut: “You can dress up or dress down a tailored garment with texture, and the blazer is no different. A classic fine worsted is timeless and quite formal, but if you can find a cloth with a bit of natural sheen then you are looking at more of an evening blazer or cocktail coat. Cut your blazer in a soft new boucle weave or wool-silk hopsack for a chic, contemporary look. Colors like a forest green or tobacco brown suit a modern blazer as much as the traditional navy.” This sums up the inherent hybrid nature of the custom blazer, literally presenting it as the ultimate sartorial chameleon, alluding to its versatility and capacity to move between different environments and social contexts.
It is quite a feat, and it goes some way to demonstrating how the bespoke custom blazer has transformed itself from the buttoned-up jacket of the establishment. At last, it is no longer the preserve of the stuffy elite or the conformist, but an elegant garment of unwavering sophistication, a tool for sartorial self-expression and the ultimate contemporary wardrobe staple. For those who wish to throw their gloves at the feet of traditionalism and yet remain thoroughly sartorial in appearance, this new generation of unorthodox custom blazers is the answer to a prayer.
The quality of every pair of handmade shoes by Knights & Lords is assured as each benefit from six weeks of meticulous hand craftsmanship, finishing, and inspection. These handmade shoes are crafted only from premium leathers sourced from tanneries that use the finest time-honored treatments, thus guaranteeing each pair of handmade shoes’ superb quality. Every pair of handmade shoes is cut from a single piece of full grain leather to ensure that the shoes are identical both in quality and the way they fit on the feet.
In addition to the fine quality of materials used in these handmade men shoes, the wealth of experience and attention to detail that goes in constructing a pair of handmade shoes means that, with care, they will not only last a lifetime but become even more comfortable and elegant with age. While one can have their handmade shoes polished professionally, the satisfaction of looking after your own handmade shoes is something that we at Knights & Lords recommend. Here are some tips from Ashish & Pawan of Knights & Lords which are simple procedures one must follow to appreciate your shoes to the fullest.
1) Always use a shoehorn – it will help in keeping your handmade shoes in perfect shape
2) Walk your new handmade shoes in gradually, wearing them only for a few hours in dry conditions during the first few days. This will allow the leather to soften and better fit the shape of your foot.
3) Rotate your pair of handmade shoes so they can dry out properly and breathe.
4) Always use shoetrees – they keep your handmade shoes in their optimum shape and help to remove creases.
Nourishing and Polishing – Prior to polishing dust over your bespoke handmade shoes with a brush and clean the stitches with a welt brush. Choose a jar of shoe cream specially made for handmade shoes which are slightly lighter in color than your handmade shoes if you wish to preserve its original shade or a slightly darker shade if you wish to deepen the original color of your handmade shoes. Using a clean cloth wrapped around two fingers held together; apply the cream sparingly with a circular motion. Progressively work the shoe cream into the leather and use a welt brush to make sure it has penetrated the welt. Once the cream has dried, polish it off with a soft brush until the desired luster has been achieved.
Waxing and Glazing – In addition to the regular use of cream, Knights & Lords recommends that you also occasionally use a wax polish. It gives your handmade shoes both, a wear-resistant coating and a more intensely gleaming patina, especially to the toe and heel. The wax should be applied to your shoes in a similar fashion to the cream, though more sparingly and with a lighter touch, using a slightly damp cotton cloth to achieve a brilliant, glazed effect. Give the final touch, preferably whilst wearing your handmade shoes, with a soft cotton cloth.
Sole Replacing – Your handmade shoes are exceptionally robust. When, eventually, they require re-soling, just bring them to Knights & Lords. We will carry out a full inspection of your bespoke shoes, undertaking the re-soling. The entire sole, welt and insole will be removed and replaced with new ones. Your shoes will then be expertly re-polished and returned to you as near to new as possible.
Taking care of your handmade shoes is the best way to reach a calm and meditative state of mind as it requires the modest use of intellect while appreciating the beauty, craftsmanship, and naturalness of your handmade men shoes. It is indeed a way leading to the tower of inner engineering, a realm that exists within a dimension of your mind which is beyond space and time, a place of eternal bliss.