Undone’s In: Men’s Suit Button Etiquette

Sure, there are only two (or, in some cases, one or three). But don’t let mere quantity mislead. When it comes to suit buttons, there’s one giant world of etiquette to consider.

Suit Buttons


According to history, we have King Edward VII to thank for this. Traditionally, men’s jackets always stayed buttoned. But the king was not a svelte man, and getting that last button to fasten was by no means an easy feat, so he left it undone. To ensure the king wouldn’t feel awkward, those around him began leaving their last buttons unbuttoned, too. Cue England – and, subsequently, its many colonies – following (yep) suit.

But, when to button? When to unbutton? And – king story aside – why is buttoning the bottom button so entirely forbidden? Here’s what to keep in mind:

Don’t even think about buttoning that last button. Seriously. Pretend it isn’t there. Not just a fashion faux pas, fastening the bottom button alters your jacket’s intended appearance – for the worse. Modern-day suit jackets are cut to accommodate for that button being open, and if you fasten it, your jacket will stretch in ways it isn’t supposed to. So don’t.

Leave the top button buttoned when standing. If you leave it open, you’ll look undone. Suits are meant to drape just so when buttoned. Show off that immaculate cut.

A fully unbuttoned jacket is acceptable when you’re sitting. Think conference meetings, dinners… that sort of thing. How about dancing around like a maniac, you ask? Yep – leaving it undone then is okay, too.

Our Hickey Freeman Boutique opens Tuesday, August 20, at 11AM ET.

By Sarah Stanley, Staff Writer

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August 20, 2013