The Style Expert: Suit Button ETIQUETTE

First of all, I would like to state that I don’t have OCD. Honestly, I have checked three or four hundred times and I definitely don’t have it. On the contrary, I would like to think that I am a fairly laid back sort of guy.

I have been known to swim straight after eating and one time I let my sister off when her foot crossed the line when I took her bowling for her 9th birthday (yes that’s right, I just let her off).

There is, however, something that I just cannot ignore and it’s like that itch on your back, which every time you try to scratch it just gets, well… itchier! I am of course talking about buttons, or to be more precise, suit button etiquette.

As with all things, there are rules in place and although I know some rules can be broken, when this particular rule is not followed, it irritates me more than when I finished the entire series of Lost.

It is, of course, one of the oldest rules of formal dressing, which dictates that the bottom button of your suit jacket, blazer or waistcoat should always be left undone. ‘Why?’ I hear you ask in anticipation, are we supposed to discard the functionality of the bottom button, like the unwanted runt of a litter?

Well, the origins of this rule do vary but personally, I like the theory that King Edward VII, who gorged himself like every good king should, became so overweight that he could not fasten his lower button. So, the rest of his court literally followed suit (excuse the pun) and in turn, a fashion was born.


One Button

One button suits are naturally the easiest to remember. The button should always be fastened when standing and then unbuttoned when sitting. This will save your jacket from rising up or folding in a slouchy fashion when you sit down and also prevent unnecessary tension on the jacket button or seam.


Two Button

If it is you’re wearing a two button suit, you should only leave the top button fastened. Never fasten the bottom button and as always completely unbutton your jacket when sitting.

Three Button

With a three button suit, you have two options. You can either button the top two buttons or simply fasten the centre button. Remember, the convention is sometimes, always, never when it comes to buttoning the buttons on a three-button jacket (from top to bottom).

Remember, as with all suits, regardless of how many buttons they have, you should always have your jacket unbuttoned and open when sitting. It looks better, it’s more comfortable and reduces the chance of ruining the jacket.

Even you rebels out there who don’t necessarily care about tradition, you may be missing out if you ignore this one. Leaving your bottom button undone, emphasises the width of your shoulders and the narrowness of your waist. Essentially, it will give a better shape to the fit and intern, create that desired v shape, that has been known to make women go weak at the knees… whatever that means.

So next time you see someone breaking this rule, maybe you can have a quiet word and explain to them that for over a hundred years, gentlemen have left their bottom buttons undone, unlike fleeting fashion trends that change quicker than Katie Price changes husbands.