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To button or not to button… Easy answers to a common dressing dilemma

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There are certain rules — more like traditions, really — that govern menswear. Sure you’re free to wear what you want, and we’d like to think we have something for every mood or occasion, but we also think that certain gestures became traditions because they have merit.

Here are a few of them, all centered on the theme of buttons.

Double-breasted suits are making a comeback, and if you’re new to them, here are a couple of tips to keep in mind. First off, if your double-breasted suit or sport coat has a six-button front, you’ll have the option of buttoning either one or two buttons. We prefer buttoning the top one and leaving the bottom undone. It’s a little more nonchalant, a nice counterbalance to the double-breasted’s more formal and imposing appearance. The same rule also applies to the bottom button on both two-button and three-button jackets.

Next, many menswear experts would agree that you never wear a button-down collar with a double-breasted jacket. Yes, Fred Astaire used to break this rule, but he was one of the most legendary dressers ever, so he earns a pardon. But frankly we’d rather see him in any other collar — straight, spread, eyelet, tab — than a button-down. The button-down is a bit casual, and the double-breasted demands a dressier shirt.

Lastly, when wearing one of our three-piece suits, leave the bottom button undone on the vest. It’s another subtle touch of nonchalance that goes back to Edward VII (for whom the Edwardian Era is named), who raised his corpulent self from a stately dinner with a little extra room to digest, and a fashion was set that has lasted a hundred years.
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