This is winter in Dhaka and I see many wearing a suit or at least a jacket. However, it seems that few of the suit or the jacket wearers know the rules of buttoning jackets.
Though I have written about this subject before, I would like to reiterate because this seems to be a very common phenomenon with many in Dhaka. So, I am giving the rules once again.
As we know, single-breasted suit jackets, blazers, and sports jackets can usually have anything between one and four button in the front. Please note that it’s also possible to have more than four front buttons, though it’s very rare. Therefore, let’s start from single button jackets.
Single breasted single button suit
Very easy to remember:
When standing you must button the only button.
When sitting, you must unbutton.
Exception: If you are wearing a single button dinner jacket (also known as a Tuxedo or Tux), you must always keep the jacket unbuttoned. Also remember that you must also wear a Cummerbund with a single-breasted dinner jacket (to cover the trousers waist).
If you do not want to wear a cummerbund, wear a dress vest instead (to cover your waist).
Double-breasted dinner jackets must always remain buttoned.
Single breasted two button suit
The top button must be fastened when standing and the second button should never be fastened.
Jacket must be unbuttoned when seated.
Single breasted three button suits
There are two options:
1. When standing, fasten top two buttons and leave the third unfastened.
Or 2. Fasten only the middle button.
Single breasted four of more button suits
Not a good choice for a single breasted suit unless you are at least six feet six inches tall. If you must have one, leave the last unbuttoned.
Double breasted suits (four or six buttons)
Double-breasted suits come in two basic combinations: 6X1 or 4X1; and 6X2 or 4X2. 6X1 means that there are six outside front buttons out of which only one can be buttoned. 6X2 means six outside buttons out of which only two can be buttoned.
For 6X1 configuration, button the only button-able button when sitting or standing.
For 6X2 configuration, button only the top button-able button and leave the lower button unbuttoned.
Double-breasted suits should never be unbuttoned in public.
Waistcoat buttoning rules
If you wear a waistcoat (or vest), you must leave the last button unfastened.
The custom of leaving the bottom button on a waistcoat undone comes from the early 20th century. King Edward VII was too fat to fasten his bottom button and the custom came from his imitators.
However, if you are wearing a three button dress vest (common with dinner jackets), then button all the vest buttons.