The Brook Taverner Journal

How to Button Single-Breasted and Double-Breasted Jackets?

How to Button Single-Breasted and Double-Breasted Jackets?


There are many curious rules and stories about the positioning, quantity and alignment of buttons in a formal garment. Especially when it comes to a gentleman’s jacket.


The History of Buttons


Buttons have existed as ornamental pieces for thousands of years, but they didn't become functional until the XIII century when buttonholes for fastening and closing clothes grew popular.

Historically, men’s buttons have always been sewn to the right, whereas women's to the left. Some theories behind this explain how complex it was for high-born women to get dressed back in the XVI century. Therefore, their servants would do all the work, being easier for them to have the buttons positioned on the left. As per why men's clothing has the buttons on the right, it’s said that as men would dress alone, it was a natural choice –as most people are right-handed.

If we are talking about history and tradition, when it comes to single-breasted and double-breasted jackets and the rules of thumb for buttoning them, the story tells that King Edward the VII, who was quite rounded an overweight, started to leave the bottom button of his jackets undone. Of course, if back then you were a member of the royal cohort, you wouldn’t want to make a statement on your own. Therefore, the men surrounding the king started doing the same. The trend spread out around the world and became one of the major standard rules for men wearing jackets.

Nowadays, there are quite a few rules to follow when it comes to buttoning –and unbuttoning–your jacket. These rules vary depending on which type of jacket a gentleman is wearing, so if you want to keep your debonair style in line, follow these simple guidelines.


What Are The Different Types of Jackets?


There are many different ways to categorize jackets. The formality of any given occasion is a big one, but also the type of construction which can be full-canvas, half-canvas or fused. And we are mentioning this because you should always think of your suit as a whole.

It’s key to keep an eye on these details as the overall look, feel and fit of your suit will, at the end of the day, make it or break it. When it comes to buttons and jackets, the main focus is on the specific type of buttons alignments which results in what we know as single-breasted or double-breasted suits.

Single-breasted jackets are the ones with only one column of fasteners and a narrow fabric overlapping. On the other hand, double-breasted jackets have two parallel columns of buttons which cause a wider fabric overlap.


How to Button Each Type of Single-Breast Jacket?


These can have between one to four buttons and can be used for a wide range of occasions depending on the overall design. From a day suit to a tuxedo shawl jacket.




This is easy to remember. If you are standing, the button should be always fastened as a sign of elegance and attention to detail. When you sit, you have to undo the button.




This goes beyond the historical fashion traditions. As the one button jacket has a lower button stance and a deeper “V” than a two-button jacket, not unfastening it when sitting will eventually make the button pop.




Buttons are kept the same regardless if you are standing or sitting. Always keep the top button fastened and the bottom one undone.




As the bottom button sits under your waistline, it would restrict your movement if done. Also, both buttons fastened would make the silhouette of the jacket look odd.




This is where things can get tricky as it will depend on the type of lapel your jacket has and the way it rolls onto the edges. In some designs, the right lapel would roll softly extending past the top button, making it invisible, so you should treat it as a two-button jacket by buttoning the centre button. If you suit lapels are flat, which are the most commonly seen style, fastened the centre button or both top buttons.




If the lapels are rolled, trying to fasten the top button will clearly mess up the construction and look of your jacket. With flat lapels, the same rules that apply to two-button jackets can be used here.

What you should never attempt is to fasten all three buttons.


Four-button jacket


Luckily these are long gone, but here and there someone attempts to bring these back from the grave. If you can’t help yourself, just leave the bottom button undone.


Rules for Buttoning a Double-Breasted Jacket


Double-breasted jackets have two parallel columns of buttons. In most designs, one of these has decorative–rather than functional–purposes.

As the extension of fabric overlapping is wider, it makes it necessary to have an inner-button, known as the “anchor button” which keeps the shape and fastening looking neat. By rule of thumb, the functional buttons should always be buttoned until you take the jacket off regardless if you are sitting or standing.

To state the type of double-breasted jacket, in fashion these are known as 6 x 2, 6 x 1, 4 x 1, 4 x 2 and 2 x 1. The first number refers to the total of buttons and the second one refers to how many of them are functional.


Double-breasted Jacket 6 x 2(())


If you have to choose one type of double-breasted suit, this should be your go-to. The way it wraps around your waste, and the visual impact of the buttons positioning help your figure and shoulders look perfectly in shape.


Double-breasted Jacket 6 x 1


If you are a sartorial rebel and feel like challenging the conventions that say the 6 x 1 double-breasted jacket is a rare abomination from the 80’s, include it in your wardrobe. Some designers started including the 6 x 1 in their collections, so, who knows?

Something to consider though is that if this type of garment is not suited for your body type, it may look bulky and sloppy, especially on the front.


Double-breasted 4 x 2, 4 x 1 and 2 x 1


Most experts explain that these types of jackets are not very flattering for most body types, what makes them unlikely to become popular again. Again, if you choose one of these, make sure to always fasten the functional buttons.


What Are The Different Types of Buttons Used in Jackets?


Buttons come in a number of shapes, sizes and materials. For suits, these are usually flat with either two or four holes. They can be made from materials such as horn, hard plastic, metal, polyester and even fabric covered with a metal core–without holes, seen on very formal occasions.


Where else can you find buttons in a jacket?


Men’s jackets also have from one to four buttons on the sleeves. Important to clarify that as these don’t have a real function sometimes they are replaced with fake holes. Some men, when first introduced to wearing suits, wonder why there’s a buttonhole on the left lapel reserved for the most formal types of jackets. These are called “boutonniere” and allow you to add a pop of colour and style by placing a flower or bud through it.