In fashion, double-breasted refers to a jacket or coat with two vertical rows of buttons down its front. The double-breasted coat's two rows of buttons distinguishes it from a single-breasted coat, which has only one vertical row of buttons. While the single-breasted coat may be more common, the double-breasted coat has its place as a winter jacket and sports coat.
The two vertical rows of buttons run parallel to each other on a double-breasted coat. A person wearing the coat usually has the option of buttoning it either on the right or left side, though sometimes one row of buttons is only decorative and doesn't have corresponding button holes. In some cases, one row of buttons will be completely functional while the other row has only one or two matching buttonholes.
The number of horizontal rows of buttons a double-breasted jacket has can vary. Many coats have three horizontal rows on the outside, for a total of six buttons. Usually, two buttons on either the right or left side close the jacket and the top button is left unfastened. Some coats also have an additional, hidden button on the inside panel.
The more buttons a coat has, the higher its neckline will be and the more coverage across the front the coat will offer. More coverage can be beneficial in colder weather, since the extra fabric will help keep a person warm. Woolen pea coats are popular in the winter months for this reason. However, extra fabric also contributes bulk to the jacket and may not look good on all body types. Thin men may seem to be drowning a double-breasted jacket while short men may look even shorter.
Shorter men may find that a jacket with only four buttons, or two horizontal rows, is more flattering on them. The four button coat is often called the Kent. Four buttons cut down on the jacket's bulk, and allow more of the shirt and tie the man is wearing to be seen, which in turn seems to add height to a man's torso.
Double-breasted sports coats are usually associated with older businessmen. This style of sports coat usually has pointed or peaked lapels. Peaked lapels, where the top of the lapel points upwards, contribute to the elegant look of the jacket. While men can sometimes get away with wearing a single-breasted coat without tie, they should always wear a necktie or bow tie with a double-breasted sports coat, since the look will seem incomplete without a tie.