Suit jacket buttons are a necessary evil for gentlemen.
These buttons apparently make a small detail of your suit. But do the jacket button wrong, and you’ll stick out like a sore thumb.
The proper buttoning of the jacket helps achieve a flattering drape.
It is, therefore, important to know and follow suit jacket button rules.
Single-Breasted Suit Button Rules
A single-breasted jacket is the most common type of suit style. It represents a suit you can wear to any occasion of any formality.
This single-breasted suit jacket commonly has one, two, or three buttons in a single vertical column. Four and more button single-breasted suit jackets are rare.
When buttoning a single-breasted suit jacket, it’s essential to follow the “sometimes, always, never” rule.
This rule elaborates that you should “always” button the single-breasted suit jacket’s middle button.
At the same time, never fasten the bottom button for a single-breasted suit. Buttoning the top button is, however, optional.
One-Button Suit Jacket
A one-button suit jacket takes inspiration from its formal counterpart, the tuxedo jacket.
Therefore, when standing, you should always button this single button.
You can only unbutton this button while sitting down or wearing a vest.
Other than that, always keep this button closed, with no exceptions.
A one-button is not a common jacket style. So, the jacket stands out; a closed button is a way to create a flattering look.
Two-Button Suit Jacket
This is the most common button style for a single-breasted suit jacket.
The rule here is always to fasten the top button while keeping the bottom button undone.
A closed bottom button can also cause a tight jacket around the waist. As a result, you won’t achieve that sleek silhouette that modern suit jackets tend to provide.
You should only unbutton the top button on a two-button jacket when you sit.
There are rare occasions, however, when you can button both suit buttons.
The first is with the paddock cut or unusually high button stance. Other instances include having long lapels and a tall physique in general.
But even in those instances, the look won’t be very flattering. And most gentlemen would consider you a style naive due to the high prevalence and universality of this rule.
Three-Button Suit Jacket
The “sometimes, always, never” buttoning rule truly applies to a three-button single-breasted jacket.
Here, always close the middle button as it will give structure to the suit jacket. Never close the bottom button, as the jacket would become overly tight.
The top button is completely a personal preference. You can keep the button open for a sartorially playful look.
In comparison, you can close the button for a more serious look.
A “three roll two” jacket is a refined version of the simple three-button counterpart.
Here the top button hides under the lapel roll. But the buttoning rules would be the same.
Double-Breasted Suit Button Rules
Double-breasted suits offer a preppy yet sophisticated suited look. And the button rules here are pretty straightforward.
Almost always, you should fully button a double-breasted jacket.
But understanding the button’s position can help in being creative. And obviously, without going overboard.
A double-breasted suit jacket can have two parallel rows of buttons.
One of these rows has functional buttons, called inside buttons, while the other contributes to the embellishment.
The button stance of a double-breasted suit has a form of AxB.
The first number A is the total number of buttons on the jacket, and B represents the number of buttons you can fasten.
A 4×2 double-breasted jacket, for example, has four total buttons, and two of them can be fastened.
Two-Buttoned Double-Breasted Jacket
The two buttons represent the simplest double-breasted button style 2×1.
Here one button is functional, and the other is faux.
The buttoning rules here are straightforward, and it’s to fasten this functional button at all times.
Even while sitting, you don’t need to unbutton a two-buttoned double-breasted jacket.
Four-Buttoned Double-Breasted Jacket
A four-buttoned double-breasted jacket can have two variants: 4×2 and 4×1.
A 4×2 jacket has four total buttons, with two functional buttons.
In comparison, a 4×1 double-breasted jacket has one functional button in a total of four buttons.
Buttoning a 4×1 double-breasted jacket is easy. You only have to fasten the only “functional” button.
A 4×2 double-breasted jacket, however, has more variety. The most effortless and stylish way is to close both functional buttons.
But many gents these days go with an unbuttoned bottom button. And it’s completely fine to opt for this style.
Six-Buttoned Double-Breasted Jacket
A six-button double-breasted jacket has two parallel rows of buttons with three buttons each.
And like a four-buttoned double-breasted jacket, it has two common styles; 6×2 and 6×3.
The 6×2 jacket button rules are always to fasten the top functional button. I suggest buttoning the bottom button, but that can be a personal preference.
For a 6×3 double-breasted jacket, always close the top two buttons. The bottom button is, again, optional here.
There is also a less-common 6×1 double-breasted jacket.
Since there is only one functional button, you should always fasten it.
Three-Piece Suit Button Rules
The addition of a vest makes buttoning your suit more interesting. But first, the vest buttoning rules:
Always keep the bottom button undone on a single-breasted vest, regardless of matching or odd.
Although undoing the bottom button here is only slightly functional, it’s more about showing attention to detail.
For a double-breasted vest, keep all the buttons closed. Especially keep the vest buttoned all the way down with a black-tie outfit.
So in a three-piece, you can wear the suit jacket both buttoned and unbuttoned.
You can keep the jacket unbuttoned, as the visible vest will add depth to the outfit. This style specifically manifests when wearing an odd vest.
When buttoning the jacket, the vest should be visible under the buttoned jacket. Follow the same jacket rules as a regular two-piece.
Fundamental Suit Jacket Button Rules
Sure, you are free to button the suit jacket the way you want. However, there are certain rules.
These rules help you pull off a graceful ensemble. But more important than that is you look sartorially well-informed.
So, here are some buttoning rules to stay stylish.
Never Fasten the Bottom Button Rule
You should always keep the bottom button unbuttoned if a single-breasted suit jacket has two or more buttons.
The reason is that the bottom button ends below the waist in a two- or three-button single-breasted suit jacket.
So, fastening this button makes your suit jacket sloppy and uncomfortable.
Additionally, in a single-breasted vest, you, again, never fasten the bottom button.
The only time to fasten the bottom button is with one-button single-breasted and all double-breasted suits.
Button the Suit Jacket when Standing
While standing and wearing a suit jacket, you should look put together. And the easiest way to do this is to button the suit jacket.
As a matter of fact, suit jackets are made to display the flattering shape of your body.
When you button the suit jacket while standing, this tapers your waist and expands the shoulders.
Also, while walking, an open jacket becomes too disorganized. Therefore, always keep it buttoned while standing, whether single- or double-breasted jacket.
Unbutton the Single-Breasted Jacket when Sitting
It’s a ritual that, as you sit, immediately unbutton the single-breasted suit jacket.
The reason is that while sitting, a buttoned jacket hinders movement.
Additionally, when sitting, unbuttoning the jacket avoids wrinkles and creases. You would prevent your suit buttons from straining.
So, unbuttoning the suit jacket while sitting is not just a rule but a practical approach to sophisticated style.
Never Unbutton a Double-Breasted Jacket
Unbuttoning a double-breasted suit is never a good idea. The reason is that too much fabric easily creates an unkempt look.
Not only should you never unbutton a double-breasted jacket while standing but also while sitting. There are a few reasons for this.
First is that a double-breasted suit jacket has a lot of buttons. And unbuttoning each of the buttons would take quite an effort.
More importantly, an unbuttoned double-breasted jacket is too boxy to handle. So, it’s best always to keep the double-breasted jacket buttoned.
Why are Suit Buttoning Rules Important?
Properly buttoning your suit is among the fundamental rules of menswear.
But unlike popular belief, these buttoning etiquettes exist for being practical and not just because a king was fat.
In addition, following proper button rules gives an impression of an attentive style. It’s also a concealed hint that you’re well-informed about fashion decorum.
So, now you can either disregard these rules as an expression of style ignorance. Or showcase the most polished style.