I was in Downtown LA early in 2018, on a hot date with my wife at the Rooftop Bar at the Perch; it was a busy night with a mix of people in age and varying degrees of evening attire that ranged from the most casual (shorts and a tee shirt) to full suit jacket and pants, sans the tie. As I waited to order my Old Fashioned, about 6th in line, I saw a young man who looked to be in his mid-twenties wearing a nice grey (shiny like a Kenneth Cole) suit. The suit fit him well, the sleeves of his jacket seemed to have been tailored correctly, and his pant legs had barely a break as they rested gently on the top of his shoes. There was just one problem, a very big problem: he’d fastened the bottom button of his jacket. I contemplated whether I should make it my business to correct his mistake, save him from the sneers and snickers of others like me who would notice such an awful mistake. After all, there is so much information online from magazines like Esquire who implore men to stop buttoning the bottom button, so why didn’t this guy know not to do that?
Gentlemen, DO NOT fasten the bottom button. NEVER. EVER.
George Hanh does an excellent job explaining this in his video, “Two Common Mistakes Men Make When Wearing a Jacket.” There are two mistakes when wearing a suit jacket:
- Fastening the bottom button
- Sitting with your jacket button(s)* fastened.
Don’t button the bottom button of the jacket. It is not designed to be buttoned.
Just don’t do it, it is uncomfortable and it makes you look fuller in the midsection, so why would you want to? When you see someone on television, yes even the red carpet, you can point out the faux pas to the person next to you. People who should know better still make the mistake of buttoning all of the buttons on their jackets. The same applies for vests (or waistcoats, if you prefer), leave the bottom button unfastened.
Few people wear a suit better than James Bond
And he never buttoned the bottom button.
Why not button the bottom button?
Legend has it that King Edward VII started the trend; his waist grew too large for his waistcoat, so he released the bottom button to relieve some pressure; everyone started wearing it the same way and the trend caught on. Keep in mind that the Brittish Empire spanned about a quarter of the world at the time Edward VII was king and whether it was out of respect or fear, so it began.
The Three-Button Jackets
I wore a brown three-button jacket to work and buttoned the top two buttons. Another man saw me and quickly blurted out that I should not have fastened the top button. I explained that it is the bottom button one should never fasten, not the top. He insisted and unwilling to deal with his obstinate banter I walked away. He was neither right nor wrong. The top button in a three-button jacket is a matter of personal preference, you may leave it as you wish. Fasten the middle button when you’re standing and never fasten the bottom button.
The Four-Button Jackets
I prefer the two-button jacket and own one with three; I stay away from the four-button jacket. They seemed to have been in style, and are apparently no longer appropriate.
I never said anything to the young man at the Perch that night. Should I have?