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Which Buttons to Button?
31 · 10 · 2013

Which Buttons to Button?

Written by Beckett Simonon

There are many rituals in everyday life. Things we don’t think about but do automatically in specific situations. This code of behavior is called etiquette.

It's not easy for anyone, no matter how open-minded, to be surrounded by people that don’t share or respect the unspoken codes of behavior.

How would you feel around someone who picks his nose or chews with his mouth open? Not a pretty picture, right?

What about someone who cleans their teeth or nails in a public place? By now you may be asking yourself, what does all this have to do with proper buttoning?

The answer is simple. As with manners, clothing etiquette can make or break a first impression.

Fastening your jacket buttons the right way is as meaningful as closing your fly. The same goes for having your shirt tucked in, or tying your shoelaces. So, give this subtle clothing code the respect it deserves.

Never Fasten the Bottom Button

Don't fasten the bottom button. Ever. Don't do it! This applies to 1, 2, or 3-button blazers, sports coats, trench coats, cardigans, mac coats and duffle coats. Pretty much every type of coat with buttons.

Buttoning that last button is the quickest way of ensuring you look like an amateur. It will also make you look like you've gained ten pounds.

Most designs are actually cut to account for the last button being left unbuttoned. If you do it, it will affect the look of the jacket.

Where does this rule originate? According to menswear lore, King Edward VII started this trend in the early 1900s.

The reason? Simple, he was too fat to get that last button of his vest and jacket closed.

Button Etiquette

There are a couple rules here that you might not be aware of. When you're standing up, always fasten your jacket. When you're sitting down, always unbutton it.

Most designs are made to fit and drape properly when you're standing up. A buttoned jacket will look better and complement your silhouette that way.

But, sitting down with your jacket buttoned will add stress to the buttonhole. It will make you look like you are bursting out of your clothes.

There is, however, one exception to this rule. Even though you're technically standing up, when dancing, always unbutton your jacket. Failing to do so will have you looking stiff, which nobody wants while letting loose.

A Visual Guide to Buttoning

Single button blazer

Two button blazer

Three button blazer

Double breasted blazer


Trench coat

Mac coat

Duffle coat

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