Suit Button Rules: When And Where To Button Your Suit

Whether you’re slipping into a suit for the first time in your life or you wear them as the norm, suit button rules, unfortunately, aren’t included in the pocket.

It’d be too easy for the guidelines to be stapled to a suit coat’s lining, of course, leaving most men unsure of when and where to button or unbutton their suits.

There are various suit styles, plenty of button options to choose from, and unspoken-yet-essential rules for each. Regardless of which style you opt for, knowing the basic suit button rules can help you avoid a major fashion faux pas on important occasions.

So, to help you steer clear of any style blunders on your next outing, we’ll cover the ins and outs of the suit button rules and guide you on your journey toward couture.

Without further ado, let’s get to buttoning.

Why Does Buttoning A Suit Matter?

Imagine this: you sit down to interview for a new job. Or maybe you’re sitting down for a super crucial meeting with your superiors, hoping to land that big promotion. In either case, you forget to unbutton your suit jacket when you sit down.

You begin to wonder, am I supposed to unbutton my suit?

Does it even matter?

To give it to you straight—sitting down while buttoned makes it a bit hard to miss the creasing.

To be clear—we’re chatting about suits. Buttoning guidelines for blazers and sportscoats are typically more relaxed for less of a formal look.

If you’re wearing a suit, we’ll assume the event you’re attending is at least somewhat important.

That said, you should care about buttoning and what it will do for your style reputation. Before we jump into the dos and don’ts of fastening up your suit jacket, let’s take a stroll down fashion lane to get a better understanding of why this whole idea even matters.

There are various reasons as to why buttoning and unbuttoning at proper times and in the correct circumstances matters, including the following:

You’ll signal to the rest of the world that you know what you’re doing, which is respectable in the suit community.
You’ll save your buttons from popping off when you sit down. And you’ll be more comfortable.

Buttoned suits (while standing) accentuate the best parts of your physique, and you’re there to let everyone know that you care about your appearance.

Fastening suit buttons in the proper circumstance is an old-school concept that certainly makes sense to this day.

Following style laws will never do you dirty, and it can give the impression that you put a sufficient amount of effort into your ensemble.

However, choosing not to follow these fashion guidelines is not breaking the law. So, if you’d rather leave your suit unbuttoned while you stand, feel free.

As long as you feel confident in your look, you’ve got our approval. To ensure that you know the basics, whether you choose to follow them or not, let’s take a look at suit jacket customs when it comes to buttoning up.

When & Where to Button Your Suit

A buttoned suit is typically a classy and sophisticated look. Nonetheless, there are circumstances when it is necessary to have your jacket buttoned if you’re hoping to follow general style guidelines. Not to mention, knowing where to button is also essential to keep in mind if you want to be in the know.

1. When You’re Standing or Walking

The first and most important rule to remember when you’re wearing any style of suit is to always keep it buttoned while you’re standing or walking.

The button will ensure that you stay looking dapper at all times. As we discussed before, the buttoning up will help accentuate your physique, and it’ll also help show the best features that the suit has to offer. Think of it this way: you don’t want to spend your hard-earned cash on a suit that isn’t appreciated to its fullest potential.

Whether your suit has one, two, or three buttons, you should always be buttoned up while you’re standing. If you’ve got this rule down, you’re halfway there.

2. When It’s the Top or the Middle Button

The second most important thing to understand about buttoning is where to button.

For suits with only one button—the choice is easy. You’ve got one button, so button that one up while you’re standing and walking around. But, for suits with two or three buttons, the guidelines are a bit more particular.

If your jacket has two buttons, always leave only the top button fastened while standing. And if your jacket has three buttons, always keep at least the middle button done up. You can fasten the top button in addition to the middle, but that’s optional; most men choose only the middle to make unbuttoning a bit easier.

3. If It’s a Double-Breasted Jacket

Double-breasted suit jackets—although less common these days—offer more of a classy and formal look. They’re typically sold with four, six, or eight buttons, while six buttons are the most common style.

Double-breasted jackets are very rarely unbuttoned until they’re taken off. They’re designed to stay buttoned; otherwise, they’d look goofy as the front flap would hang loose. Double-breasted jackets typically only allow the furthest column of buttons (closest to the flap) to work, and the others are merely decorative.

So, if you’re planning to wear a double-breasted jacket, always leave the working buttons fastened at all times. Yes, it’s even alright to stay buttoned while you sit.

If you’d like to leave any buttonholes undone, opt for the lowest button; this can be a good look if you prefer a longer line. (Not to mention, the British royal family is known for leaving the bottom button unfastened. If they can do it, then you definitely can.) Regardless, always keep the top button fastened.

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When & Where to Unbutton Your Suit

It’s safe to say that being ignorant about when to unbutton your suit is embarrassing—especially in scenarios when it actually matters, like when you’re attending a traditional event or meeting your girlfriend’s parents. Let’s just say: people notice.

But don’t worry, we’ve also compiled several of the most common guidelines for unbuttoning your suit jacket to give you a leg up in the button game. While understanding when and how to leave buttons fastened is important, it’s equally essential to acknowledge when to unfasten them.

1. When You Sit Down

Unless you’re wearing a double-breasted suit, make it a habit to unbutton your suit jacket every time you sit down. Whether it’s a one, two, or three-button suit, leave it open while you’re sitting down to avoid any discomfort and awkward pulling on the buttons and around the back.

Not to mention, if you leave it buttoned while you sit, the jacket will crease in weird areas, and that’s not a good look.

In short, it can be goofy. To err on the side of caution, always unbutton when you sit down. But, of course, don’t forget to fasten up again as soon as you stand back up.

2. When it’s The Bottom Button

Thanks to King Edward VII, it’s an unspoken fashion rule—even a thousand years later—that we always leave our bottom buttons unfastened.

It’s understood in the fashion community that the Prince of Wales at the time merely stopped buttoning up his waistcoats and suits because he was far too chubby, and wanted them to fit better. Out of respect for the guy, everyone else followed suit.

While that may be the truth, it’s also understood that suit jackets started to replace riding coats, and since the bottom button fell below the waistline, it merely had to be undone if they wanted to ride a horse comfortably.

These days, we opt for the same rule. Tailors typically design suit jackets to taper in a way that doesn’t look quite right with the bottom button fastened. So, because of our overweight ancestors, we always leave the bottom button undone—regardless of the style.

Double-breasted suits, however, can go either way.

3. If You’re Also Wearing a Vest

If you’re wearing a three-piece suit, buttoning rules tend to be a bit more relaxed. It’s common to follow the general guidelines while sporting a vest (e.g., buttoned while standing, unbuttoned while sitting), but the vest allows for a bit of leeway.

It’s still necessary—if not more necessary—to unbutton the jacket while sitting in a three-piece suit because it’ll put unwanted stress on your buttons if you don’t.

However, also leaving your jacket unbuttoned while standing can make for an upscale-yet-nonchalant look if you’re up for the challenge.

Conclusion

Fashion rules around buttoning and unbuttoning a suit jacket might seem complex, but they’re practical. And, adhering to the unwritten standards can be to your advantage, helping you to look snazzy and letting others in on the amount of effort you put into your style.

Not only that, but you’ll always be comfortable, and you’ll always look your best.

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