How Come?

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How come United States presidents never wear double-breasted suits anymore? I realize in the scheme of important questions of life this comes in at about number 11,897,000, but I’d still like to know what happened to the double-breasted presidential suits. Who decided that it was no longer “presidential” to be seen in a nice navy pinstripe double-breasted? I happen to like the look of a man in a double-breasted suit and my wife does too, which is why most of my suits are that style. To me there is just something a bit more finished, more dignified than the single-breasted models.

From as near as I can tell, the style disappeared with Kennedy in 1961 (another thing we can thank the ‘60s for). Before then, Eisenhower wore both double-breasted and single-breasted. Truman preferred the double-breasted more often. But no president since then has worn one. That’s fifty years’ worth of double-breastedless presidents. This has nothing to do with fashion styles; all through the 1980s and 1990s, when the double-breasted suit made a huge comeback, the presidents of those years still never wore them.

Come to think about it, I’m not sure any of our modern day senators or congressmen wears the double-breasted suits anymore, either. What is it with today’s wussy politicians? What is it about that particular style that scares them off? It can’t be that the look is considered too far out or cutting edge, because it really is a staple that has been around forever. The double-breasted suit gives a man a professional, formal appearance — a touch of class.

And yet all or most of our national elected representatives all look like they buy the same dark single-breasted boring suit. It’s like they all shop at the Men’s Dull Clothing Outlet. This may just say something about our politicians today. No imagination, no sense of individualism, no courage to be different from the rest of the pack.

The double-breasted suit has a long and illustrious history as a style of men’s clothing. The on-line encyclopedia, Wikipedia describes the original double-breasted jacket as having six buttons, with three to close. This originated from the naval reefer jacket. Some versions have four buttons in which only the bottom one fastens. The four-button double-breasted jacket that buttons at the lower button is often called the “Kent,” after the man who made it popular — the Duke of Kent.

Double-breasted suit jackets were especially popular from the mid-1930s until the late 1950s, and again from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s. It was the 1987 film Wall Street that brought the look back as the ultimate executive “power suit.” Overcoats such as the pea coat and trench coat are traditionally double-breasted and also originated from military fashion. The double-breasted suit always has peaked lapels, as opposed to the notched lapels of the single-breasted suits.

According to a fashion website the double-breasted suit had its widest acceptance in the 1930s, most commonly seen in a six-button model worn by men ranging from Noel Coward and Adolphe Menjou to Cary Grant and Humphrey Bogart. In 1942, after the US entered World War II, the War Production Board General Regulation L-85 mandated that wool be rationed to save cloth for the boys fighting overseas, so the patriotic men wore single-breasted suits.

Then came the 1950s and early 1960s and along with it came the skinny-lapelled single-breasted suits and skinny ties. The entire suit had a tight, skimpy look, just as the styles are now, with short trousers and no cuffs. It makes men look like nerds, and it is a style that doesn’t work at all for heavier guys and broad-chested men.

What this country needs now is a president who is a broad-chested man, in the truest sense. A president who can revive our sagging economy, get people back to work, stop inflation, win our wars abroad, and reopen factories and manufacturing plants here at home. We need a president who can keep our borders secure and our citizens safe.

We need a president who can bring America back as the beacon of creativity and the envy of all other nations, as we once were. We need a president who does not apologize for America, but honors her. We need a president who is optimistic about America’s future and who understands traditional American values of hard work and ingenuity.

In short, we need a president who isn’t afraid to wear a double-breasted suit.

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