Firstly, please accept my apologies if this email address is not appropriate for you to receive and reply to individual questions.
My apology offered, if you are still reading then I thank you and pose my question...
I am a heavyset man that has reached that stage in life where I consider it no longer acceptable to wear surfing-inspired casualwear (although that does beg the question, was it ever acceptable?) and who no longer finds fulfilment in the fashion offerings of the usual high street outlets – gents my size do not exist if their stock is to be used as an indicator or if we do, then we must be at least 6'3'' tall..!
I am re-discovering my love of clothes by adopting a traditional approach to style and as such have devoured Alan Flusser's books and your Permanent Style site.
To come to my increasingly laboured question, I would like to acquire a smoking jacket and wonder whether a double-breasted (DB) style would be acceptable, given my bulk, or whether I should stick with the established suit dogma and consider only a SB style as befits my build.
My query arises from the consideration that, as it will be worn predominantly indoors, at home, would it be acceptable to ignore the usual jacketing advice and go for the more striking and warmer, DB style?
I hope you can advise.
There seem to be a few distinct aspects to this question. First, whether a DB would be unflattering, given your relative bulk; second, whether velvet would not be complimentary; and third, whether a smoking jacket itself is a good idea.
On DBs generally, it is fair to say that most ready-to-wear DB jackets will be less flattering than a single-breasted, given the extra flap of cloth across the belly. However, there is no reason why a bespoke version shouldn’t have the opposite effect – or indeed a RTW one if you search long enough and find exactly the right style.
That style should have a relatively small overlap, so that the extra cloth is reduced and the resulting sweep of the lapel is a touch more vertical. The jacket should have two or six buttons, or if four then cut to button at the bottom set – so those above are slightly further apart and you avoid creating a square. And that buttoning point should be relatively low, to increase the length of the lapel.
The long diagonal line that results will draw the eye away from the belly and up to the shoulders, which is flattering on any man.
Velvet is not the sleekest of materials, given the light-sucking effect of its nap. So if flattery were all that you were after then I would recommend another cloth. But I sense that it isn’t, given your description of wearing it. There is clearly an image here you wish to create.
So go with the velvet. But as to a smoking jacket as a style choice, I would suggest caution. If you don’t have a tuxedo already, have that made first. Velvet is a nice alternative to formal events (perhaps the slightly less formal, and certainly when you are not the host), but a tuxedo will be far more versatile.
If you indeed intend to wear it around the house at home, you must have run a long way into a “traditional approach to style”. I applaud your commitment in that case, and fully endorse the making of a DB smoking jacket. It will certainly have style; it is a style I had mine made in too, though I confess I don’t wear it at home. (Fitting on the jacket at Timothy Everest, pictured top.)
I hope it’s a rewarding process