Buttoning Rules for Single and Double-Breasted Suit Jackets

single vs. double-breasted jackets
Image Source: wikipedia

What’s in a suit jacket?

It’s amazing that such a simple piece of clothing has so many rules on how to wear them properly. It’s just a jacket! Surely, you can wear and button them up as you please?

But buttoning your suit jackets the right way has its own benefits. One, it makes your jacket fit and look better on your body. Second, it sends out a signal that you’re a detail-oriented man, who likes to pay attention to even the smallest of details, such as jacket buttons.

Single Versus Double-Breasted Suit Jackets
Before going into the buttoning rules, it’s important that you know how to differentiate single from double-breasted suit jackets.

Single-breasted jackets are jackets with only one column of buttons and a very narrow overlap of fabric. The number of buttons can be anywhere from one to three.

Double-breasted jackets on the other hand, have two columns of buttons that are parallel to each other, and has a wider overlap of fabric. With double-breasted jackets, you’re essentially working with two sets of buttons. These kinds of jackets are also considered to be more strictly formal than their single-breasted counterparts. Common button configurations are:

  • six-on-two: Six buttons, with only two that can be fastened. This is the most traditional type of double-breasted suit jacket.
  • four-on-one: Also called as the Kent, after the Duke of Kent who popularized it.
  • four-on-two: Considered to be the most versatile, since you can button both buttons or just the top or bottom ones.

Single-Breasted Suit Jacket Buttoning Rules
1. For One-Button Jackets
There’s no need to decide what specific button to fasten in this kind of jacket since there’s only one. Always keep that button fastened when you’re standing, unbutton it when you’re sitting down so it doesn’t crease.

2. For Two-Button Jackets
The bottom button should never be fastened. Only keep the top one buttoned. Unbutton it when you’re sitting down, and fasten it again when standing.

3. For Three-Button Jackets
As a rule of thumb, the middle button is the only button that should be kept fastened. The top one is optional, and the bottom button, as always, should be left unfastened. Undo all buttons when you are seated.

Double-Breasted Suit Jacket Buttoning Rules
Buttoning rules for double-breasted suit jackets are simple. The number of working buttonholes that your jacket has, refers to the number of buttons that need to be fastened. Have all buttons with corresponding buttonholes fastened at all times.

Optionally, you can leave one button undone for double-breasted jackets. You can opt to keep the top one unfastened for a more traditional look, while taller guys can have the lowest button undone. Even members of the British Royal family has been observed to do this, so it’s not considered as a fashion faux pas.

Remember, while suit jackets have strict buttoning rules, it’s considered bad etiquette to call out a man for having his suit buttoned wrong in public. You can just approach him in private, and let him know how to button his jacket properly, especially if he’s new to wearing suits or he hasn’t worn one before.

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