How To Button Your Jacket

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How To Button Your Jacket

Words by Mr Dan Rookwood

2 September 2016

You could be forgiven for wondering what the problem is here. There are jacket buttons. There are corresponding button holes. The buttons go in the holes, right? Well, it’s not quite that simple – and we’ve got King Edward VII to thank for complicating the issue. Legend has it that back in the early 1900s, his dapper highness got a bit portly for his bespoke tailoring and couldn’t do up the bottom button on his jacket. Everyone else obsequiously followed suit so as not to make him feel like a salad dodger – and thus a trend was started that holds to this day. But it also makes practical sense. Here’s the reason to avoid sartorial treason.

Do up one button

Buttoning your jacket when standing up makes for a cleaner and more flattering silhouette as it nips you in at the waist. You’ll usually need to unbutton it when seated to save the strain on the fabric. One-button jackets are the easiest to remember: you should always do it up. On a two-button jacket, only do up the top button. On a three-button jacket, you can just do up the middle button. Please tell us you don’t own any four-button jackets.

Do up the top and middle buttons

On a three-button jacket, it is perfectly acceptable to do up the top button as well as the middle button. This is a stylistic decision: if the lapel is flat, it can look neater to button the top button so that it doesn’t bow open; if the lapel rolls over and hides the top button hole, you’re better off only buttoning the middle one.

Never do up the bottom button

This isn’t just a historical anachronism. The tailored fit of today’s suiting means that you generally need to leave the bottom button open to ensure proper drape of the jacket and allow for comfortable movement. If you do it up it’ll a) make you look like you’ve put on weight; and b) make you look like you don’t really know what you’re doing. An easy way to remember this rule of thumb is, from the top button down, think MAN: Maybe, Always, Never.

Illustrations by Mr Angelo Trofa and Ms Anje Jager