Suit jacket buttoning rules

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.



17 thoughts on “Suit jacket buttoning rules

      1. Thanks for the wonderful blog. I am a VP at a bank here in the U.S. Sure will dress like you suggested.

      2. I’ve gained a bit of weight in the waistline….i.e. I got fat. I have a suit jacket that is just barely too tight to button. Is it acceptable to leave it unbuttoned?

      3. Well, if you have to wear it, what other options do you have? One option is to take it to a tailor for alterations. If your jacket is readymade, then it is likely that it will not have envy extra fabric to work with. The other option is to try to reduce weight. Keeping the button open when standing is not how a suit jacket should be worn. I few days back a gentleman came to me with a 40 year old Huntsman double-breasted navy blazer. He wanted me to make an identical copy with his current measurements. I noticed that he could not close the buttons because he had become larger in the last 40 years. But I found him wearing the blazer without closing the buttons and in fact he visited Bhutan with his “could-not-be-buttoned” blazer while I was making a replacement. Therefore, by all means wear it if you must.

  1. Sir, Amazing blog. A blog like this is a start for this country. Admire your fashion sense. I wanted to know where to get Pocket Squares, Bow-ties, and Suspenders. I can’t seem to find any of these in Dhaka. A reply will be appreciated.

    1. unfortunately you can’t get them regularly in Dhaka. I have seen some pocket squares in Gulshan-1 market (1st floor). Suspenders and bow ties–no. However, in the next three months time you will find them in my shop at the Pan Pacific Hotel.

  2. I would be coming to BG shortly,I was earnestly hoping you could best advise which tailor I should go to. I was seeking to get a double breasted suit made.

    1. Dear Ruben, My recommendation is going to be rather biased because all my suits and shirts are made by Dapper Bespoke, which I own. Give me a call when you are in Dhaka. My mobile is +8801711547571. Thanks, Shahzaman.

  3. It’s been an absolute pleasure going through your blog. This initiative of yours would definitely encourage lads in here to dress the way they should (elegently). Would love to drop by your shop sometime if it’s open already!!!

    1. I am very happy to know that your liked the blog. The shop’s name is Dapper Bespoke and it has been in operation for the last six months. It’s located at the lobby of Pan Pacific Sonargoan Hotel, Dhaka. Please note that the shop remains closed on Friday. Business hours are between 10 am and 8 pm. Thanks, Shahzaman

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