It might seem trivial to have rules about how your button your suit, but the impact of following the rules or not is larger than you may realize.
Who knew that one tiny button could dramatically alter your appearance and how others perceive you?
So don’t be left on the wrong side of the fashion row; make sure you’re buttoning your suit jackets properly.
Buttoning a Single-Breasted Suit Jacket
Suit jackets come in many styles, and their design can vary, creating different functions and fashions.
The buttons on a suit jacket are just as variable. Jackets usually have one, two, or three buttons in a vertical row up the center.
Some more extreme designs have even more buttons, but those styles are rare.
How you button your suit jacket depends on how many buttons it has.
One-Button Suit Jacket Rules
You must always button your single button when you are standing up. There isn’t any exception to the rule for this.
One reason you need to remain buttoned is that allowing your jacket to hang open looks sloppy.
Single button jackets are usually slightly longer than other suit jackets; fastening your button helps your jacket appear even and proportional. It also keeps wrinkling to a minimum.
Two-Button Suit Jacket Rules
When standing up in your suit jacket with two buttons, you should always keep the top button closed but undo the bottom one.
The bottom button has a very unflattering effect when it’s closed. Buttoning it makes the bottom half of your suit jacket too tight and can cause the hem to flare out a bit.
Modern suits are designed and cut so that your button is supposed to be left unfastened.
Ok, rules are meant to be broken, right? There are times when it’s acceptable to have both buttons fastened.
You can do up the bottom button if your jacket has a very long lapel, but be sure to fold the lapel down to your buttonhole.
It can also be fastened if your jacket has a high stance; this means the buttons are placed higher than normal, closer to your collar.
And finally, if you have a long torso and your jacket opens above your belt buckle, go ahead and secure that bottom button.
Three-Button Suit Jacket Rules
When you have a suit jacket with three buttons, pretend that the bottom two are the buttons on a two-button suit.
Never button the bottom one, and always button the one right above it, which is actually the middle button on the three-button suit.
The top button is your call. Although, if you have a flat lapel, that’s a good time to button that top one.
Buttoning a Double-Breasted Suit Jacket
Double-breasted suits usually have four or eight (usually six) buttons, but not all are functional. Your double-breasted jacket will have fewer holes than buttons.
You should have all buttons on the jacket fully fastened.
Before you step out of the house, though, check in the mirror to ensure they are all in the proper buttonhole! It can be tricky with that many buttons.
Double-Breasted Suit Buttoning Rule Alternative
Remember how some rules are meant to be broken? Let’s do that again.
It isn’t unusual to leave the very bottom button undone on your double-breasted jacket.
The British royal family has been spotted doing this, and since they are the arbiters of high fashion, that makes it acceptable.
Keep in mind that only 6×2, 4×2, or 6×3 double-breasted suit jackets can have their right bottom button undone.
More casual styles like 4×1 or 6×1 that have only one buttonhole should always have their buttons fastened.
Part of the appeal of leaving the bottom-most button open on your double-breasted suit jacket is that it creates a sense of length along your torso.
Just remember never to leave the top button open.
Never Unbutton All Buttons on a Double-Breasted Jacket
Ever. Even when sitting.
At all times, you must keep almost all of your buttons fastened on your double-breasted jacket.
If you try to leave your suit jacket open, it hangs very awkwardly because of the way it is cut. It must be closed.
Standard Suit Jacket Button Rules to Live By
Yes, there are rules for everything in fashion, even how to fasten your buttons.
Your suit jacket is cut to be worn a specific way; breaking these rules may destroy that sartorial effect.
Suit Jackets Should Always Be Buttoned When Standing
Doing the buttons on your jacket creates an image of a man who’s well put together.
Buttoning your suit looks clean and tidy. Your jacket lines are sleek when it’s buttoned, making you more professional and serious.
Leaving your suit jacket open is too casual and exposes your belly. In nature, this shows weakness, so don’t send that subconscious message to your co-workers!
Never Fasten the Bottom Button on a Single-Breasted Suit
This “rule” is what sets apart single and double-breasted suits the most.
Always leave your bottom button open unless you are wearing a single-breasted, one-button suit. Then you need to button it. (but it’s also the top then, too, isn’t it? So it’s fine.)
Suits aren’t made to be buttoned all the way down. That bottom button is mainly decorative these days.
At best, buttoning the bottom of your suit jacket constricts your movement. At worst, it makes you look funny.
Unbutton the Single-Breasted Jacket When Sitting
It’s a non-negotiable rule that you must fully open your suit jacket when sitting down.
If you don’t, the top opening of your jacket will puff out and get in your way. Not to mention, it just looks awful.
Opening your jacket also helps avoid creasing from sitting down. Most importantly, though, is that it is more comfortable for you and also won’t strain your jacket’s buttons.
Remember to button your jacket again as soon as you stand up!
Why Suit Buttoning Matter?
Paying close attention to details like your suit buttons shows that you are a thoughtful dresser.
Wearing a suit properly says that you take pride in your appearance. It’s a subtle signal, but people pick up on that subconsciously.
These rules are in place for a reason. They help you look better and present the best version of you to the world.
Hi, I’m Alex, and I’ve studied and specialized in styling in Rome. Through my writing, I want to help men dress well and learn the purpose and significance of suits and other formal attire. My final goal is to make men more confident in their wardrobe choice and life in general.