Suit Button Rules

I. Introduction

The art of suit buttoning is often overlooked, yet it plays a crucial role in the overall aesthetics of a suit. The rules of suit buttoning not only enhance the fit but also contribute to the wearer’s professional image and personal style. This article aims to delve into the importance of suit button rules, their history, and how they have evolved over time.

Understanding these rules can significantly impact how one is perceived, especially in professional and social settings. It’s not just about looking good; it’s about exuding confidence and sophistication. So, let’s embark on this sartorial journey and unravel the mysteries of suit buttoning.

Whether you’re a seasoned suit wearer or a novice, this comprehensive guide will provide you with the knowledge you need to button your suit correctly and stylishly. So, let’s dive in and explore the world of suit buttoning.

II. History of Suit Buttoning

The history of suit buttoning is as rich and varied as the suits themselves. The rules originated in the 19th century when King Edward VII, known for his large stature, started leaving the bottom button of his waistcoat and jacket undone for comfort. This trend was quickly adopted by the upper class and has since become a standard in men’s fashion.

Over the years, suit buttoning styles have evolved, reflecting changes in fashion trends and societal norms. From the flamboyant styles of the 70s to the minimalist designs of the 90s, the way men button their suits has continually changed, yet the basic rules have remained the same.

Today, these rules serve as a guide for men to present themselves in the best possible way. They are a testament to the timeless elegance of suits and the importance of attention to detail in men’s fashion.

III. Understanding Suit Button Types

Suits come in various styles, each with its own set of buttoning rules. The most common types are single-breasted and double-breasted suits. Single-breasted suits typically have one to three buttons, while double-breasted suits have a more complex button arrangement.

Single-breasted suits are the most common type of suit, characterized by a jacket with a single row of buttons and a narrow overlap of fabric. They can have one, two, or three buttons, each with its own set of buttoning rules.

Double-breasted suits, on the other hand, feature a wider overlap of fabric and two parallel rows of buttons. They are considered more formal and are often seen at formal events and in traditional business environments.

IV. Rules of Buttoning Single-Breasted Suits

When it comes to single-breasted suits, the rules are quite straightforward. For a one-button suit, the button should always be fastened when standing and undone when sitting. This helps maintain the suit’s shape and fit.

For a two-button suit, the rule is to always fasten the top button and leave the bottom one undone. This rule stems from the days of King Edward VII, who found it more comfortable to leave the bottom button undone due to his large stature.

Three-button suits follow the ‘sometimes, always, never’ rule. The top button is sometimes fastened, the middle button is always fastened, and the bottom button is never fastened. This rule ensures a flattering silhouette and allows for ease of movement.

V. Rules of Buttoning Double-Breasted Suits

Double-breasted suits are a bit more complex when it comes to buttoning rules. The most common styles are the 6×2 and the 4×1. In a 6×2 double-breasted suit, only the middle or second button on your left should be fastened. The 4×1 style, on the other hand, only has one functional button that should always be fastened.

Unlike single-breasted suits, double-breasted suits should remain buttoned even when sitting. This is because they have more fabric and a looser fit, and unbuttoning can make the suit look disheveled.

Remember, the key to pulling off a double-breasted suit is confidence. So, button up and wear it with pride.

VI. The ‘Sometimes, Always, Never’ Rule

The ‘Sometimes, Always, Never’ rule is a simple yet effective guide for buttoning three-button suits. The rule states that the top button may sometimes be fastened, the middle button should always be fastened, and the bottom button should never be fastened.

This rule originated from the British monarchy and has been a staple in men’s fashion ever since. It ensures a flattering fit and silhouette, regardless of the wearer’s body type.

The ‘Sometimes, Always, Never’ rule can also be applied to other suit styles. For instance, in a two-button suit, the ‘always’ applies to the top button, and the ‘never’ applies to the bottom button. Understanding and applying this rule can significantly enhance the look and fit of your suit.

VII. Exceptions to the Suit Button Rules

While the suit button rules serve as a general guide, there are exceptions. For instance, during a casual event or when you’re aiming for a more relaxed look, it’s acceptable to leave the buttons undone. Similarly, if the suit is tight, it’s better to unbutton it rather than risk damaging the fabric or buttons.

Throughout fashion history, there have been many instances where these rules have been broken. For example, in the 1960s, it was trendy to button all the buttons of a suit, contrary to the traditional rules. However, these exceptions are usually short-lived and often return to the classic rules.

Ultimately, comfort and personal style should dictate how you button your suit. The rules are there to guide you, but don’t be afraid to break them if it suits your style and the occasion.

VIII. Importance of Suit Buttoning in Professional Settings

In professional settings, the way you button your suit can significantly impact the impression you make. A properly buttoned suit exudes professionalism, attention to detail, and respect for the occasion. It shows that you take your appearance seriously, which can translate to how seriously you take your work.

On the other hand, a poorly buttoned suit can give off a sloppy and careless impression. It can suggest a lack of attention to detail, which is not a desirable trait in most professional settings.

Therefore, understanding and following the suit button rules is crucial in maintaining a professional image. It’s not just about looking good; it’s about projecting the right image and making a positive impression.

IX. Suit Buttoning in Social Settings

In social settings, the suit button rules can be a bit more relaxed. For formal events like weddings or black-tie dinners, it’s best to stick to the traditional rules to maintain a polished and sophisticated look. However, for more casual events, you have the freedom to play around with the rules to suit your personal style.

For instance, you might choose to leave your suit unbuttoned for a laid-back look at a casual event. Or you might choose to button all the buttons for a unique and trendy look. The key is to feel comfortable and confident in your suit.

Remember, fashion is a form of self-expression. So, don’t be afraid to bend the rules and make a statement with your suit buttoning style.

X. Common Mistakes in Suit Buttoning

Despite the simplicity of the suit button rules, mistakes are commonly made. One of the most common errors is buttoning all the buttons of a suit. This not only goes against the traditional rules but can also distort the fit of the suit and restrict movement.

Another common mistake is leaving the suit buttoned when sitting. This can strain the buttons and fabric, leading to potential damage. It can also cause the suit to bunch up, creating an unflattering silhouette.

To avoid these mistakes, always remember the ‘Sometimes, Always, Never’ rule for three-button suits and the ‘Always, Never’ rule for two-button suits. And always unbutton your suit before sitting down.

XI. The Role of Suit Buttoning in Overall Suit Fit

Buttoning plays a crucial role in the overall fit of a suit. A properly buttoned suit should create a clean, streamlined silhouette. It should enhance the wearer’s natural shape without being too tight or too loose.

Buttoning affects how the suit drapes on the body. For instance, leaving the bottom button undone allows the jacket to flare out slightly, accommodating the hips and ensuring a comfortable fit.

Therefore, understanding the buttoning rules is essential in achieving a well-fitted suit. Remember, a well-fitted suit is not only comfortable but also flattering and stylish.

XII. The Influence of Celebrities and Fashion Icons on Suit Buttoning

Celebrities and fashion icons have a significant influence on suit buttoning trends. From the Rat Pack’s classic two-button suits to the modern styles of David Beckham and Ryan Gosling, celebrities have both followed and broken the traditional suit button rules.

For instance, Steve McQueen was known for his rebellious style and often buttoned all the buttons of his suit, contrary to the traditional rules. On the other hand, James Bond, the epitome of classic British style, always adheres to the ‘Sometimes, Always, Never’ rule.

These trends often trickle down to mainstream fashion, influencing how men button their suits. However, regardless of trends, the classic rules have stood the test of time and continue to guide men in their sartorial choices.

XIII. Conclusion

Understanding the rules of suit buttoning is essential for any man who wears a suit. These rules not only enhance the fit and appearance of the suit but also contribute to the wearer’s overall image and style.

Whether you’re dressing for a business meeting, a formal event, or a casual outing, knowing how to properly button your suit can make a significant difference. So, remember the rules, apply them with confidence, and make your suit work for you.

After all, a well-buttoned suit is a symbol of elegance, sophistication, and style. So, button up and make a statement.

XIV. References

For further reading and a deeper understanding of suit buttoning rules, the following resources are recommended:

  • The Art of Manliness: A Guide to Suit Buttoning Rules
  • Gentleman’s Gazette: The ‘Sometimes, Always, Never’ Rule Explained
  • Esquire: The History of Suit Buttoning

XV. Appendix

For a visual guide on suit buttoning rules, refer to the following images:

  • Image 1: Single-Breasted Suit Buttoning Guide
  • Image 2: Double-Breasted Suit Buttoning Guide
  • Image 3: The ‘Sometimes, Always, Never’ Rule Illustrated


What is the ‘Sometimes, Always, Never’ rule?

The ‘Sometimes, Always, Never’ rule is a guide for buttoning three-button suits. It states that the top button may sometimes be fastened, the middle button should always be fastened, and the bottom button should never be fastened.

Should you button your suit when sitting?

No, you should always unbutton your suit when sitting. This prevents strain on the buttons and fabric and allows for a more comfortable fit.

Can you break the suit button rules?

While the suit button rules serve as a general guide, there are exceptions. For instance, during a casual event or when you’re aiming for a more relaxed look, it’s acceptable to leave the buttons undone. Similarly, if the suit is tight, it’s better to unbutton it rather than risk damaging the fabric or buttons.