Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Fashion Faux Pas - Sometimes, Always, NEVER.

Welcome to the second edition of Fashion Faux Pas, where once again I will be cheerfully telling you how to avoid looking foolish in those fancy clothes of yours. Today we look at blazers and their buttons: 

Never button that bottom button. This is an always rule. True, at one point in history there was no rule to how one buttoned one’s blazer or suit. Ya just did whatcha felt like, or what worked. The way the story goes, King Edward VII (England, 1900’s), was just too damn fat to fit in his fully-buttoned jacket. And where the King goes, others follow. At first in an effort not to offend the king, the habit of leaving the bottom button undone soon became the standard custom across the world.

These days, blazers are actually specifically designed to leave the bottom button open. In fact, closing it causes the jacket to rest unnaturally and pull in areas, becoming unsightly, uncomfortable, and constricting.

An article I read on the Brooks Brothers blog used this picture of the Kennedy’s (courtesy of Wikipedia) to illustrate the issue. Notice that John is the only one with the both buttons closed. See the unsightly way his jacket pulls at the button and bulges at the lapel? Blech. For a more natural, relaxed look, follow his brothers’ suit (ho ho, a pun). *On a side note, JFK is also suffering from the dreaded disappearing pocket square. May he rest in peace.* Really, these days, there shouldn’t be a debate. Buttoning that button is just plain wrong.

Now that top (or middle on a three-button suit) button should stay shut, at least when you are standing. Of course, there are exceptions (feel free to open that sucker up when you sit down, or if you are engaging in some crazy physical activity, which we all try to do in our suits/blazers as much as possible, and need the extra freedom. Always sacrifice style before ripping that beautiful jacket of yours).

Generally, this is the rule to live by, top to bottom:
  1. Sometimes (for those harder-to-find three-button jackets)

  2. Always (middle, top, or only button)

  3. Never (bottom button, as long as there’s more than one, durr)
Get it? Got it? Good. Don’t fuck it up.

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