What is your favourite style of jacket vent?

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Dr-No-Double-Vents

What is your favourite style of jacket vent?

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Whilst the front of a jacket is defined by the number of buttons it has, the back is defined by the number of vents. The front of the jacket has different kinds of lapels and pockets to break it up and give it interest whilst the back has only vents. The vents are a very important part of the jacket since they add functionality as well as distinguish the look of the back.

Single Vent

Daniel Craig's suits have single vents in Skyfall.
Daniel Craig’s Tom Ford suits have single vents in Skyfall.

Single vents (also called centre vents) are when the centre back seam of the jacket is opened at the bottom. Single vents are most associated with American clothing, but like most origins in tailoring they come from England. Single vents were developed for riding, and the single vent splits the jacket’s skirt evenly on either side of the horse. Naturally, the hacking jacket, like what Sean Connery wears in Goldfinger and George Lazenby wears in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, has a single vent, and it’s quite a long single vent (12 to 13 inches) so it has enough room to split neatly over the back of a horse. Many of Sean Connery’s and Daniel Craig’s suit jackets also have single vents, which is the most tradition vent style on a single-breasted jacket. Single vents have the disadvantage of exposing the buttocks in action scenes or when a man reaches his hands into his trouser pockets. It’s a bit less of a disadvantage with a body like Daniel Craig’s, though double vents would still look neater.

On suit jackets, the length of a single vents typically range from 8 to 10 inches.1960s fashions sometimes resulted in shorter vents around six inches long, though James Bond never succumbed to this fashion. Longer vents of around 12 to 13 inches were popular in the 1970s and early 1980s, though the only long single vents Bond wears at that time are on his safari-esque sports coats in The Man with the Golden Gun and The Spy Who Loved Me.

Goldfinger-Hacking-Jacket-Vent
Sean Connery’s Anthony Sinclair hacking jacket in Goldfinger has a long single vent to the waist.

Double Vents

Double vents (also called side vents) are when the rear side seams are opened at the bottom, and they are typically associated with English tailoring. Double vents didn’t become standard for English tailors until the late 1960s. At that time it was more of a trend, but the trend stuck. Before the late 1960s, English tailors generally would put single vents on single-breasted jackets and double vents on double-breasted jackets. This system creates a symmetry between the front and back of the jacket. Double-breasted jackets should never have single vents, only double vents if it has vents. Double-breasted jackets take double vents on the back to balance the double columns of buttons in front.

Roger Moore's Cyril Castle suit jacket in The Man with the Golden Gun has deep double vents
Roger Moore’s Cyril Castle suit jacket in The Man with the Golden Gun has deep double vents

For the past decade, double vents have been very popular and can be found on Italian clothing and American clothing. Currently, double vents are most popular on English, American and Italian tailoring. They haven’t been this popular in America since the 1960s and in Italy since the 1970s. Double vents are dressier than single vents, though they still have their origins in riding like single vents have. They allow more waist suppression than single vents do, and they allow a man to reach into his side trouser pockets with the least disruption to the lines of the jacket. They also extend the line of the leg for a slimmer and taller appearance. Like with single vents, double vents are typically 8 to 10 inches in length but varied with fashion trends. 6-inch double vents weren’t uncommon in the 1960s, and double vents up to 13 inches deep weren’t uncommon in the 1970s to the early 1980s. When over 10 inches, double vents can be a bit unruly, but that’s part of the charm.

Marine-Blue-Suit-Double-Vents
Even when the Roger Moore’s Cyril Castle suit jacket flaps in the wind, the double vents keep his rear covered.

Double vents sometimes continue the line of the side seams straight down, which can cause the vents to stick out over the rear. The double vents on Sean Connery’s Anthony Sinclair suits are made like this and emphasise his large rear. The double vents on Roger Moore’s Cyril Castle suits and Pierce Brosnan’s Brioni suits are also made like this, but their rears aren’t as large so the style work better on them.

George Lazenby’s Dimi Major suits, Roger Moore’s Angelo and Douglas Hayward suits and Daniel Craig’s Tom Ford suits in Quantum of Solace have double vents that flare outward. By flaring out, the vents actually hang straighter down the sides of the body. This keeps the vents looking neat no matter their length. Whilst the flare is noticeable from the back, the flare gives added shape to the waist whilst masking a large rear. The flared double vents have a more English look than straighter double vents have.

Flared double vents on George Lazenby's Dimi Major suit jacket
Flared double vents on George Lazenby’s Dimi Major glen check suit jacket

No Vents

Jackets without any vent are most associated with Italian clothing, and the Italians did indeed make jackets without vents in the 1950s and later in the 1980s through the early 2000s when vents were commonly found on English and American tailoring. A non-vented skirt is not an Italian style, as often stated. It’s a traditional style for all tailoring, and before vents became popular in the 1950s most jackets were made without a vent. When the non-vented style was popular in the 1980s, many sports coats were made without vents, but sports coats usually have vents due to their sporting heritage. Sean Connery wears many suit jackets without vents in his Bond films, especially in Goldfinger and Thunderball. Timothy Dalton also wears jackets without vents in Licence to Kill, a result of the trends at the time for non-vented jackets.

Sean Connery's dinner jacket in Thunderball follows tradition with no vents
Sean Connery’s dinner jacket in Thunderball follows tradition with no vents

All of the Bond actors, except George Lazenby, have at times worn dinner jackets without vents. Roger Moore’s double-breasted dinner jackets in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker are his only jackets of the series without vents. Vents are still considered by many to be a faux pas on a dinner jacket, since vents have sporting origins and the dinner jacket is never worn for sports. When Bond has vents on his dinner jackets they are double vents. The exception to this is the single vent on his dinner jacket in Skyfall, though single vents are too sporty and not dressy enough for dinner jackets.

Some people recommend different style jacket skirts for different types of builds. I’ve heard people say that single vents are better for a large rear than double vents are. I’ve also heard people say the opposite. Others say that no vent is best for a large rear. Poor-fitting jacket skirts can cause any kind of vents to split open or stick out. Poor-fitting double vents can have a “shelf” effect where the back flap sticks out. A tight skirt or waist with a single vent will cause the vent to open, revealing the buttocks. A tight skirt without any vents will pull the front of the jacket open at the hips and cause creasing at the back. These are all ready-to-wear issues. When the skirt of a ready-to-wear jacket is too tight, it can be difficult to fix, though letting out the waist helps in some cases. A bespoke tailor can create a well-fitting and flattering jacket skirt for any build in any vent style.

Sean Connery's naval uniform in You Only Live Twice has short double vents
Sean Connery’s naval uniform in You Only Live Twice has short double vents

26 COMMENTS

  1. There’s another advantage double vents have over single vents: Single-vented jackets tend to crease far easier than double-venteds do. That may not be a such a big problem with tweed jackets since tweed a stronger and heavier cloth. But with the usual cloths for city suits – therefore I think that a single vent on such a suit’s jacket is not really an option.

  2. Matt, are double vents on a hacking jacket considered “incorrect”? I ask because I have a nice Donegal tweed hacking jacket which was tailored by Doug Hayward in 1985 and it has deep double rather than single venting. Interestingly, behind the vents runs a length of elastic material attached with straps to each side. I have never seen such a thing before and assume it was intended to keep the vents sitting neatly if the jacket were being worn for its true purpose.

    • Though single vents on hacking jackets are more traditional, double vents are appropriate too. The elastic material would get in the way when riding a horse, but I have a strip across the back of some jackets to help the vents stay closed.

  3. Personally I prefer the double-vented blazers. They are much easier for “common day” use, mostly when sitting in a car.
    I have got a non-vented jacket, too, but I find it quite uncomfortable and I tend to avoid wearing it.

  4. Hey, Matt.

    If you were going for the most Connery look for a suit and a blue blazer would you go double vents on each?

    Thanks.

  5. I recall the post about wearing a jacket in the car. I do, and I find that double vents are easier in the car as the back flap lays flat against the seat.

  6. I would go for double every time. This is possibly off topic, actually, no, it’s very off topic, but imagine a pair of old-fashioned wild West undergarments with a flap on the rear. The little door to open for emergencies. Imagine that flap being a slit that you had to hold open. I’m afraid that’s all I can picture when I see a jacket with a single event. (I told you it was off-topic.) The main advantage of a double vent is it allows for the slight curves in the rear of the man’s figure. Anyway, back to work.

  7. Growing up in the South, my grandfather told me to wear a single vent because it let’s people know we’re not from the city. I suppose there’s an implied equestrian connection there.

  8. Great article! I do like theese in-detail articles about specific details of suits and shirts that you have done lately, keep them coming! It was interesting that you mention how the vent style can cause a problem if the wearer has a big behind. I happen to have that problem, and not only that but I have a curved lower back so more often than not suit jackets kind of gets caught and bulks up on my rear instead of following the curved line of the back and then over my rear. It can totally destroy the look of an otherwise well fitting jacket. My suits and blazers are made-to-measure and I always specify when ordering that they take my curved back into consideration. Jackets that are cut straight along the back not only have the problem off bulking up on my rear that sticks out but it also has a non-slimming effect (I have a thin waist compared to my shoulder width). Is this common and is there any specific way to cut jackets to eliminate this problem?

    • I don’t know any specifics about how to cut a jacket for a large backside. My guess is that the back panels need to widen to the sides at the bottom, and maybe the side body needs to widen towards the rear.This should not be a problem with made-to-measure jackets. Flared vents may help, but those may not be possible in most made-to-measure systems.

  9. I agree flared double vents are better overall. But Connery’s suit jacket backs didn’t look bad by any means and I never really noticed his supposedly large backside.

    • I agree and don’t think Connery has a large backside. Athletic, yes. As you can see in the first photo from Dr No, the double vents fall perfectly over his rear.

      • I didn’t say that the vents didn’t fall well, but they way they were cut makes his backside look larger. If the vents were flared out his backside would look smaller.

  10. I prefer the look of doubles. But, if one has a build like Craig (lean with a muscular frame and, particularly, muscular buttocks), a jacket with a single vent falls better, at least in my experience. The doubles accent a butt that protrudes out. Doubles look best on a comparatively flatter backside. Among the Bonds, Craig is by far the most muscular in a weightlifting/bodysculpter sense.

    • Yes he is because he purposely trained with weights for the part and probably overdid it. Nevertheless, you would expect a real 007 to be similarly trained. In my mind, Connery undoubtedly had the best physique of the lot in his early years. Muscled, but not excessively, and lean. Put that on a good frame and there is not much else you need.

  11. Not on the subject of the vent in Connery’s hacking jacket, but in the photo of him and Tania Mallet at the Swiss gas ( petrol) station in “Goldfinger,” you can plainly see a large flesh-colored (coloured) band-aid covering the wedding ring on his left hand.

  12. Thanks for the great blog.

    I have a US-made Hart Schaffner & Marx double-vented jacket in worsted wool. Sadly the double venting doesn’t flatter my backside (the vents gap open when in a standing position). What would James Bond’s tailor do in this situation?

    Is it possible to convert such a jacket to no vents?

    • It is possibly to convert a jacket to have no vents, but this will cause pulling at the back and open up the front quarters. The problem isn’t the double vents but rather that there isn’t enough cloth around the seat. One thing I’ve had done is place a strip of lining between the two side panels on the jacket under the vent to keep the vents closed. It’s a little better, I think, than closing the vents, but there is no sure fix for a jacket that is too tight around the seat.

  13. After vents became popular in the 50’s, were ventless jackets a 60’s (particularly mid-60’s) trend like short vents? Is that why they’re so prominent in Goldfinger and Thunderball? Thanks.

    • The brief trend towards ventless jackets probably came along with the new-Edwardian trend. I don’t believe that trend was present in the United States, where the short double vents were very popular and something Bond never went for.

  14. You said that Craig had a large “seat”, and because of this, his suit jackets in Skyfall and Spectre had single vents. What does “seat” mean? How would you measure the “seat”. Does your type of seat determine which vent style is the best for you?

  15. Matt normally how many inches are short vents and likewise for long vents, I ask because I noticed that my suits have 7 inches and a blazer and sports coat I own are 7 1/2 inches and another sports coat has 8 inches, and I’m wondering what term can be used to describe the vents. Also, traditionally, how long should a vent be on a sport coat/ odd jacket for it to be sporty?

    • 8 to 10 inches is the standard vent length. Anything less is a short vent and sacrifices functionality, in my experience. More than 10 inches is a long vent. I like 12 to 13-inch vents on sports coats.

  16. Where can I buy suits that have no vents in the uk
    I can’t seem to find any stores that sell suits with no vents any suggestions where I can find no vented suits
    I’m looking for a 1960 Italian style

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