Double-breasted cotton jacket and striped shirt

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When I first had this cotton jacket made, I noted that it was a tricky one to work into an outfit.

The vintage cotton cloth (more details here) is rather rough and casual, yet the cut and style are quite smart.

Having it as a double-breasted jacket makes it pretty formal to start with, but the combination with Ferdinando Caraceni’s padded, square shoulder - plus the big sweeping lapel - exaggerate the effect.

I’ve generally found, as a result, that simple, classic colours in casual materials make the best partners. Things like grey fresco or flannel trousers, with loafers in brown suede or grained leather.

Here, the trousers are from The Disguisery made in Holland & Sherry’s Crispaire fabric, and the brown-suede string Belgian loafers are from Baudoin & Lange.

If it weren’t so hot, I'd be wearing fine cotton socks rather than being sockless, and probably my ‘Janus’ brown loafers from Stefano Bemer (benchmade but on my bespoke last - their ‘Blue Bespoke’ service).

I do think, by the way, that this is an outfit that could work nicely in a more subtle combination - even a casual office - if the jacket were soft and single-breasted, with those loafers on the feet.

The tricky thing about this jacket is what to wear at the neck. 

I’ve tried many different combinations of shirt and tie, but they all seem too smart for the material - even my mainstay of pale-blue chambray/denim shirt with navy knitted/grenadine tie.

The shirt has to be open-necked, but (like most English tailors) the jacket’s collar make and height are too much for most shirt collars, causing them to collapse beneath the jacket collar over time.

This cotton/linen blue/white stripe from Luca Avitabile, however, is an old one before we settled my pattern. It has a slightly higher collar, and that is enough for it to sit up around the jacket collar.

Rolling the collar a little with the fingers, so it curves outwards, also helps - something usually easier with a fused collar than a floating one.

The stripe also adds a little pattern to an outfit that otherwise has none.

The jacket has flaps, by the way, but like all good flaps they can be tucked away and just leave a straight welt pocket.

I find I like this style on such an angular cut of jacket.

This is also one of only a few jackets where I really like the effect of corozo buttons rather than horn. You can't get this orangey tone with horn, and its strength of colour is nice with the strong yellow of the cotton.

You also only see the wavy patterns of corozo in shades like this; in anything darker they get completely lost.

Readers will recognise my vintage Alfred Dunhill box (post at that link) and the sunglasses are from Meyrowitz, but I’ll post on those separately.

Photos are from: Jamie Ferguson (top), Fabrizio Di Paolo (next), Buzz Tang (the rest). Thank you all for your snaps.

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Robin

It’s Cotton ……….. it will crease (badly , not like linen) and it will smell (underarms , sorry to be so crude) . Discuss.

Although it’s a lovely cut and colour.
Weirdly , I don’t know why , I think the colour works better because its a double breasted.

Jeremy m

I know you don’t think you can wear dark blue trousers with an odd jacket (although many of your readers disagree with you), but it is a no brainer for this jacket/shirt/shoe combo.
The gray you are wearing is too formal. Think blue hopsack.

John

Hi JEREMY M,
It’s not a good idea at all!
Bythe way, dark blue is even more formal than grey!
John

Matt S

I think blue trousers could work well with this. Dark blue isn’t any more formal than dark grey, and colour has little impact on formality with odd trousers in any case. There are many more important factors at play. The problem with blue trousers is that they bring the eye down because the colour is so strong. Because this jacket has a very dominant look, blue trousers may work.

DE

Hi Simon, I have been impressed with how much wear you have got from your Baudoin & Lange brown suede loafers/slippers – do you have a few pairs which you alternate to ensure that the don’t wear out?

Steve Calder

Regarding what to wear around the neck. You’ll have to give it a go and see if it works, but how about a white shirt (something soft, textured, maybe an Oxford Cloth…) with a chocolate coloured tie in something textured, perhaps Shantung Silk?

Was great to meet you in Florence by the way!

Alan

Hi Simon,

Would this kind of cotton drill fabric be a good choice for relatively casual bespoke trousers?

MAC

Hi Simon,

When you go to hot countries that are very sunny, do you put factor 50 on you’re head or just let it burn?

Thanks,

MAC

Mark R

How much did you have to pay the lady in the first picture to look quite so admiringly at you…?

JB

Haha!

Gonzague

I find the Caraceni square shoulder is not an issue here as it only makes up for your slopped shoulder line. On someone else it may clash with the casualness of the outfit.

Simon

In the first photo the woman in the background has noticed you as a menswear star. Look at the expression on her face…

David G

A menswear star? Really?

This site is becoming a bit like a tailoring Love Island, with one person posing is a variety of enticing numbers.

Simon, honestly, this shouldn’t be about photos of you posing in different outfits/locations, should it? It is supposed to be about tailoring (which you are quite good at), not looking at the camera in a series of Kardashian like poses (which is not your forte).

Anonymous

I guess the criticism is more your move to the igent / pitti lifestyle blogger (which has been very slight!)

David

I thought the photos were fabulous.
Particularly the one where you appear to delight in seeing your image in a shop window !

Joseph

And where would we have Simon pose and get photos taken? In a studio with him standing still?

The beauty of these photos is they show Simon and his clothes as part of the larger world we live in. Because that’s what clothes are for. We wear them wherever we go. We don’t just put them on for photoshoots.

Besides, nothing wrong with other people treating you like a star so long as you don’t impose it on them. It’s their decision to be inspired by who they consider to be an inspiration.

Bolaji Babafemi

Spot on! I’m sure Simon is sensible enough not to let it all go to his head. He seems incorruptible and a gentleman.

Barry Pullen

I haven’t been to Milan since I was in my twenties, but the next time I go, F. Caraceni is probably going to be the first stop on my list. Superb jacket, and if you don’t mind my saying so, this is the best shoulder I’ve ever seen on you.

Christopher

Dear Simon,

I guess a white trouser with pleats, maybe in combination with a light blue oxford or linen shirt, should work. Especially in the summer time….

AL

The perfect summer look!

Richard T

Hi Simon,

Great outfit. I particularly like the shirt with the jacket. I tend to agree with Jeremy M about a navy or blue trousers working with this jacket (or perhaps an olive or khaki of some kind).
Purely a personal view, but I struggle to make wool trousers work with cotton or linen jackets. For some reason, I find that I’m more comfortable with a more informal trouser – e.g. Cotton – with a slightly more formal jacket. I struggle to make it work the other way around, i.e. A more casual jacket with more formal trousers. As I say, purely a personal view and very much as it works (or doesn’t) for me, rather than being a view on what might be more generally applicable.

John

Hi Richard T,
Your remark is absolutely relevant! Yet, I wouldn’t be surprised if you remained puzzled, despite Simon’s reply. Why does this outfit – combining a cotton jacket and wool trousers – seem to work in this case, and thus completly blows up a broadly held sartorial assumption? Obviously, we trust the accuracy of the posted pics and above all Simon’s own taste and sense of style.
Here is my explanation: it has worked thanks to two features the jacket’s fabric: 1. Its texture: it shares quite the same with the trousers, due to its coarness; 2. And more importantly, it’s not the kind of cotton we usually see nowadays let alone in RTW, for it’s substantially heavier. And this latter alone offsets the remaining differences, which otherwise would have put us off.
John

Anonymous

Really like this jacket, it looks wonderfully cut and as Barry points to possibly one of the best shoulder lines seen on you. The grey, though elegant, would not have been my choice (too aging) but the cut works. Jeremy suggests blue, I think the shade of sand positively shouts for it (in cotton chino). Dark brown might also work if palettes change. In the heat, on holiday, well cut ecru in cotton (with blue shirt) might also work.

John

Hi Simon,
I agree with you on how you’ve worked out this outfit, but on one single point, which you mention anyway: the shoes. I would have rather stuck to the Stefano Bemer’s loafers in order to maintain the entire outfit at the same level of formality.
John

Anonymous

This is going to sound odd, but the squarer than normal shoulders you’ve got on this jacket creat the impression that you are standing a little taller.

Taking your natural slope away makes the illusion that the end of your shoulders is further from your waist (if that makes sense!)

Anonymous

Good observation, I find anything more than A&S softness makes me look military, whereas Simon pulls this off very welln

JJ Katz

One thing I really like about your site is that I get to see combinations I would not normally wear myself but that work well; like this one.

Looking at the pics, though, they tend to confirm the idea that tall, thin people (like yourself) look better in DB than more average shapes.

Joseph

This is one of your jackets that has always intrigued me the most, in terms of what to wear it with. As with the photos in your review of it, the grey color family works very well. Might a dark muted green work with it as well, for instance a dark enough military green?

Hristo

Great cut of the jacket. I love it.
I would personally go for wool instead of cotton, but this topic was already discussed several times. 🙂

JB

A few comments and questions:
1: As soon as I saw the first picture of you walking, the trousers creases looks quite strange. I do appreciate clothing moves with the body, but the whole right leg looks almost twisted. Just a result of the high twist wool being a bit more rigid?

2: In terms of combinations, I would suggest a white trousers like your P.Johnson ones, and keep the shirt, or maybe even change to the green linen one from D’Avino? Even though it’s a bit more muted, the jacket is similar in color to the overshirt in this post https://www.permanentstyle.com/2017/08/sage-green-and-tobacco-brown-earthy-summer.html.
Alternatively, I’d go with a dark/chocolate brown trouser and white shirt.

3. To me, the jacket would be a lot easier to wear had it been soft shouldered. As you mention, having a casual cloth cut in a formal way makes it harder to wear.

Bolaji

Whatever happened to #WaistCoatWednesday!
Hey Simon, I take back all I said about the ‘unpredictable’ English Spring/Summer.
It’s been resolutely smouldering for almost three weeks now in London.
The only fabric I have been able to wear without sweating bucket-loads is a frayed VOIL white shirt I’ve had for ages.
Do you have any experience of this fabric or know where I can buy anything similar?
A double-breasted jacket would just kill me now!

Ned Brown, Charleston SC

If it is not too hot outside, I like to wear a colourful, loosely tied cotton scarf. As a writer, it adds a bit of flair, and unexpected.

COLIN MACDONALD

Trousers look quite wide especially at the cuff and yes as its an informal cotton DB, a Button Down would work well.

William

Hello Simon

What is the length of the cuffs on the trousers pictured?

Kind Regards

Bryan

The young lady in the first photograph appears to be most impressed. And why not. Congratulations Simon!

Rob D

Lovely jacket; are the hip pockets sewn shut, Simon? Leaving them so does smooth the outline, but I always find I end up needing the hip pockets for car keys, tickets etc. The male portmanteau as a receptacle for keys etc is stylish, but then you stray into the debate about Englishmen and whether they should carry handbags, and if I carried one I’d inevitably leave it in a supermarket or anywhere else I put it down for a moment.

george blumfield

Dear Sir-
Dol you think that I could buy the exact cut of this blazer in linen from this tailor or wherever it comes from?

Noel

Hi Simon,

What is the lapel width of this jacket?
Should DBs have wider lapels than SBs? Or does your article on lapel widths apply to both styles?

Many thanks

Chris

The squarer shoulders really do suit (sic) you. It’s looks much more athletic and imposing than some of the natural sloping shoulders you usually wear. I also like the contrast between jacket and trousers.

Fredrik

I find the passage on the height of the shirt collar quite interesting. This is something I only remember you mentioning in passing (as you do here as well) – might this be fodder for an entire piece at some point?