Remember The 'Sometimes, Always, Never' Rule When Wearing A Suit Coat

Most men's suit jackets have three buttons down the front. Leave them all unbuttoned and you look informal. Button them all and you look like a schoolboy in his first suit or a school uniform. So which should you button and which stay open? This rule is easy to remember: "Sometimes, Always, Never" from top to bottom.

Honestly, this is a rule I've known for a long time, but talking about it with others (and the folks at the Art of Manliness) revealed that it's perhaps not as common knowledge as I thought, and it really should be. They explain:

Starting with the top button and working your way down: it's sometimes appropriate to have the top button buttoned along with the middle one (a stylistic decision — if the lapel is flat, it can look good to button it; if the lapel rolls over and hides the top button, only button the middle one), it’s always appropriate to have the middle button buttoned (the middle button pulls the jacket together at your natural waist and lets the bottom naturally flare out around your hips), and you should never button the last button (doing so messes up the intended tailoring and flare offered by the middle button).

I'd add that the bottom button runs the risk of drawing the jacket in too close or being too tight around the waist while you move around, and is especially unflattering if you have a bit of a belly under that jacket. It may seem like a silly rule, but there is rationale behind it, both from a fashion and a tailoring perspective. There are exceptions (some people like to button all three in very formal situations, like if you're a banker, lawyer, or going to a funeral) to the rule, of course. If it's all just too complicated for you, you could always just buy two button suits and get around the problem entirely.

The Sometimes, Always Never 3-Button Rule [The Art of Manliness]


Comments

    Two button suits aren't any different.
    The bottom button should almost never be done up for the same reason as a three button suit.

    The only time you'd do it up is if you're outside and it is windy, on both the two and three you'll then do up the bottom button as so the suit doesn't flap around in the wind.

    At the risk of being mercilessly trolled, I would say that this can depend on the cut of the suit. My favourite suit jacket looks better with just the middle or the middle plus the bottom button done up.

      This.

      It isn't a hard/fast rule, and is determined by the cut. Really structured military style coats (eg Mao collared suits) need to be straight, and the bottom button maintains this.

      I agree that there are some suits that look better to the eye when the bottom button is buttoned, but you still shouldn't do it. The problem is that you are breaking a known rule and in professional situations it can make you appear uncouth. Which is likely the opposite of your goal if you are wearing a suit.

    Unbuttoning the bottom button also gives you access to your pants' pockets without looking like you're hitching up a dress...

    "Honestly, this is a rule I’ve known for a long time, but talking about it with others (and the folks at the Art of Manliness) revealed that it’s perhaps not as common knowledge as I thought, and it really should be."

    lol

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