Suiting 101: Two-Button or Three-Button Suit
Suit Jacket Buttons – What to Know
Men’s style is all in the details. But you already knew that. And there are few better examples than those 1-inch-diameter disc-shaped objects hanging snugly from the front of your suit. What your buttons are made of is important – real bull horn (what we use) is superior to plastic. But even more to the point, the number of buttons you opt for on your custom suit can make a world of difference. How much difference? The difference between looking like a head-turning, put-together gent and a bro – one of the Ringling kind.
At Black Lapel, we get a lot of questions regarding the buttons of a suit: 2-button or 3-button suit? How many buttons should you go for if you’re a shorter guy? And what’s the big deal about leaving the last button unbuttoned? What exactly is a 3-roll-2 suit?
We’ll answer all these questions for you. But before we begin, let’s make sure we’re on the same page with some of the basics:
The King had his cake and now you can too.
- Always Leave the Last Button Unbuttoned – If there’s any universally accepted “rule” to buttoning your suits, this is it. In fact, buttoning the last button not only screams fashion faux pas, it means you’re wearing the suit incorrectly. Suit patterns are actually cut to account for the last button being unbuttoned. So where did this rule even come from? According to menswear lore, this trend was started in the early 1900s by King Edward VII who was too fat to get that last button of his vest and jacket closed. And what does a King Shamu do when he can’t button a last button? He leaves it unbuttoned because a King does whatever he damn well pleases. Society followed.
- Button Up while Standing – Suit jackets are designed to be buttoned when you’re standing for the best look, fit and drape. By keeping proper form and a nice silhouette, a buttoned up suit jacket simply looks better. So button up, unless you’re sitting down.
- Unbutton Your Jacket when Sitting (or Dancing) – Sitting with your jacket buttoned will add unnecessary stress to your jacket button(s) as well as the rest of your jacket – it may cause some odd pulling and tugging in the chest and the back. So give your suit some love and unbutton it when you sit. Of course, if you’re going to be breaking out some wild dance moves at a wedding or Swedish House Mafia’s final tour, keep that suit jacket unbuttoned as well.
Looking for a fail-proof single-breasted suit? Look no further. The 2-button suit is your classic All-American guy who works hard, plays hard and gets along with just about everyone. While button stance will vary by maker, a 2-button suit generally has a lower button stance (i.e., the vertical placement of the jacket’s top button), which creates a deep “V” that has a very flattering visual effect. The visual flattery occurs because a lower button stance means longer lapels, which deepens the point at which the jacket is buttoned, thereby elongating the torso. And an elongated torso means visual heightening and slimming – in other words, it makes you look taller. This makes the 2-button a very flattering choice for any man looking to maximize the illusion of height or the heftier gent looking for a little slimming magic. Think of it like the grilled chicken of suit button types—a good base for any recipe of style and great for your body.
How to wear it: Button the top button only.
Where to wear it: Any place, any time from boardroom to bar.
The 1-button suit is the cooler, hipper younger brother of the 2-button suit. While his bro is trying to slip the bouncer a $20, he struts in with two gorgeous ladies on each arm. A 1-button suit further accentuates the elongating and slimming benefits of a 2-button suit with an even lower button stance and deeper “V”. However, it’s possible that this suave look can be seen as a bit too cool – i.e., you run the slight risk of coming off a bit rakish in a conservative work environment. With that said, most people probably won’t even notice that it’s a 1-button. And finally, with more torso exposed, the 1-button is also great when you want to show off more of that dapper shirt / tie combo you put together. So if you’re in the mood to showcase some sartorial moxie, go for that 1-button suit.
How to wear it: If you can’t figure this one out, then we’re not even sure how you’ve gotten this far.
Where to where it: Stylish and formal social occasions, stylish office settings.
Whereas the 1-button is the cool, in-the-scene younger brother of the 2-button, the 3-button is the stiff, eccentric uncle from overseas. A 3-button suit has a high button stance, creating a shallow “V” and consequently, looks the most “buttoned-up”. Literally. Because it lacks the elongating effect of a 2-button or 1-button suit, the 3-button is the least forgiving and visually flattering (in our humble opinions). The 3-button is also the button type that seems to be most trend-elastic; it had its run and its run ended…in like 1995.
Okay, okay, so it’s old school and it doesn’t flatter most body types…but there has to be some reason why some guys would wear it right? Yup, if you’re a really tall guy (think like 6’4″ and up). These guys don’t need the elongating effect of a lower button stance – in fact, the higher button stance of a 3-button suit will balance out their height a bit and make them look more proportioned. So if you’re over 6’4” or waiting on grand kids or both, 3-button it up. Otherwise, caveat emptor.
How to wear it: Button the top and middle buttons or just the middle one; never button the bottom one.
Where to wear it: Anywhere other 3-button suit wearers congregate. NBA benches or Tall Clubs International (TCI) is a good place to start.
The 3-roll-2 (or 3/2 roll) is the cool uncle who has been living overseas and returns with an abundance of hilarious stories to entertain you with. Think of it as a hybrid of the 2-button and 3-button suits.
The 3-roll-2 is a 3-button suit masquerading as a 2-button suit. The top button is designed to be left unbuttoned with the lapel shaped to achieve this look. In fact, the lapel is shaped exactly like a 2-button suit, offering that same deep “V”.
How to wear it: Button the middle button and leave the top and bottom ones unbuttoned.
Where to wear it: Anywhere you’d wear a 2-button suit but want a little extra sartorial punch.
Note: The 3-roll-2 suit is available at Black Lapel by special request.
Yeah, we all wanted to be like Mike back in the day. And now you can. Just put on a 4-button suit and smile.
You just read almost a thousand words on buttons. And you’re awesome and better off for doing it. Now when it comes to selecting your next suit, you’ll know why you want that ____-button suit instead of being a receptacle for a store’s excess inventory. Choose your buttons wisely, and as a smart man (okay, it was Glenn O’Brien) once said, “Dress for eternity.”
Got a question for us? Leave a comment below.
Like What You See? There's More.
We'll send you style advice and intel for the modern man.
Great delivery. Great arguments. Keep up the good spirit.
Tying to learn about suit jackets, or blazer jackets, and what I really want. My spontaneous impression is that the 2-button above is a smart fitting, sexually enhancing jacket, suitable for aspiring playboys. But since it exposes so much underneath in the long “V”, it feels rather naked, not very dressed or protective against the elements. Hence not so very practical, but meant purely for social effect. And the 2-button is not necessarily more elegant than the 3-button.
The 3-button looks more strictly proper, academic, and respectable. They seem to be generally longer than the 2-button (ending say an inch below the crotch), and will well cover the butt when a cold wind is blowing. Perhaps the 3-button is really more suitable for colder climate and preferably made of tweed wool. I am of average length (178cm), and while it is true that a longer jacket will make the body look shorter, I don’t know if that is necessarily so from the front when the jacket is unbuttoned. It is kindred to the elegance worn by men in the 1700s (my favorite fashion century), although I see it may unfortunately cause some social awkwardness walking around like that today.
Hey all, I would like your opinion on what the best buttoning style would be for my body type. I am 6’3, and am heavy (260lb), but I dont have a huge gut. I have very broad shoulders and a long torso. The reason I am unsure is because I am right on the cusp of that 6’4 recommendation for the 3 button suit, so I was not sure if that would flatter my size well. However, I am nervous about the 2-button because I already have a long torso, so if it elongated it more, I’m not sure how that would look.
To answer your question – you can’t go wrong with a two button. Based on your body type, a three button wouldn’t be terrible either depending on the level of gut we’re talkin’. To be honest, 6’3 is pretty damn tall too, so don’t worry about that lost inch, and to be honest the two button won’t elongate you too much. There are plenty of tall people who rock the two button and rock it well. (Literally The Rock.)
Female here. I came across this article while trying to find out why men in suits on tv don’t have jackets that fit properly (they have to leave the bottom unbuttoned). I had no idea it was an intentional look. So now what I don’t understand is, why put the buttons that should not be buttoned on the jacket at all? Just place the button that should be used at the appropriate location for the lapel appearance that you want.
You raise a good point, but you’re barking up an ancient menswear tree. As menswear legend goes, King Edward VII had to start unbuttoning the bottom-most button on his jackets because he got too round. Other men started to follow suit and well, the rest is history.
More practically, the bottom-most button helps with the drape of the jacket and adds an air of masculinity. You’ll notice that if both buttons are buttoned on a jacket that something looks off and the wearer is much more restricted in his movements. Still, not entirely practical. There’s always the one-button jacket for people like you. With one button, you can avoid all of this menswear nonsense 🙂
What fatuous twaddle! To erect a personal preference into a rule or even recommendation is immense arrogance, even in an ‘expert’. As a slim, young English law clerk, I was taught that a dark,three-button, three-piece suit was not only de riguer but good for self-confidence because it worked a bit like body armour.
Now, as an obese old lawyer in my 70th year, I actually like and feel comfortable in such a civilian uniform on formal occasions, much as I admire the softer look for more laid back types and dos. And as for the 3-roll-2, for those of us who feel good buttoned up, what is the point, unless to loosen up a bit once off duty?
Even if the Edward story is true, there is an inconsistency in knocking mid-20th century preferences while adhering to early 20th century conventions. Either cut coats where front buttons are functional or omit the non-functional altogether. Get rid of cuff buttons at the same time. Time for a new dress reform movement. Down with dress dictators however speciously they dress up their edicts as advice.
Time out. Edicts? Dictators? Hardly. Wear it however you want. Fine by us.
We’re not interested in style confrontation. We’re here to educate those who want an education.
I read the article and think it’s great. I do have a question, For those of us who aren’t tall and are also calorically challenged, what is your advice for picking a suit? And please spare me the “Try the salad,” line, though I know it is tempting! On the surface it seems that a 2 button is the way to go but I’m wondering if it is ALWAYS the way for the short, fat and bald? I await your thoughts.
DJ, thanks for the kind praise and good question. First, we’ll never judge you for a distaste in salad, a bunch of waterlogged, tasteless lettuce thrown together? No thanks. Secondly, there’s a bunch of unwritten rules that have been thrown around for men of all body types, don’t wear double breasted suits, pinstripes make you tall, yada yada. Don’t take them too seriously. Lets address the short “problem” first. We break it down in our suits for short men article. The main takeaway being that you are right, the two button style is the way to go, but you certainly aren’t restricted to that. The main importance lies in the fit, staying away from a long fitted suit will help keep your jacket further from the ground than it already it.
As for our advice for body types, first and foremost go custom fit (our specialty.) Step one of looking good in a suit is always how well it forms to your body. The second thing you can do is check out our article on picking your lapel. For instance, the peak lapel is best for the men who would prefer a slimming look,(it’s also our favorite). Where as a rounder man who chooses a shawl lapel should think twice, for the point of the shawl is to create a rounding effect.
Lastly, the bald situation… might we suggest a nice shine before your outing? 🙂
Lately I’ve noticed that men’s suit jackets seem to be cut shorter and are more open at the bottom. In the past, they’ve covered most of the zipper and the shirt and the bottom of the tie were not visible. Why this latest trend?
We can’t speak to why some designers made their jackets so long in the 90s, but the return to proper jacket length is driven by creating a flattering silhouette. A long jacket will make an average height man look short and a tall man look like a member of the 2003 NBA Draft Class. This is not to say that an overly short jacket is a good idea either. Rather, as with anything, moderation is the key. The best jacket length creates a flattering V-shape to the upper body and lengthens the legs.
I am from the overseas – Scandinavia, Denmark to be more exact. Here the three button suit passed away together with Brandon from Beverly Hills 90210. Back in the 90’ies I was working in one of the biggest men stores in Denmark and we sold quite a lot of three button suits. I even spend around 1000$ on a suit from Hugo Boss just before the big three button suit depression. Around the year 2000 we sold less three button suits than two buttons suit and then they finally disappeared from the market just like the dinosaurs.
To be honest they have never done anything good for men (small, medium or large) – just like the hippie pants with big flare they were just a fad. So to be clear: three button = 90’ies fad, two button = classic
It seems like people here are accusing Black Lapel for not telling the truth. As a former suit seller who has sold a hell alot of suits from all the biggest brands I can tell you that you are wrong – three button suits were never ment to be.
Thanks for coming to our defense Christophe!
Sorry, I’m not buying the reasoning behind the 2 button suit vs the 3 button suit. It’s nothing more than retailers attempting to get men to feel that if they don’t pony up for a new suit every spring, they will look like they’re from a previous generation, or as you put it “century”. I prefer to wear a 3 button suit as it looks more ‘dressed’ than a 2 button. Yes, I’m over 40, so wanting to waste money on keeping up with the latest fad is not something that concerns me. You sell suits, you want to sell as many as you can, so you tell us to keep up with the fads. Nope.
So to summarize, you feel that Black Lapel, a company that offers every single suit in our collection in a one-, two-, or three-button model (as you can see in this screen capture from our website) is actively trying to get people to not choose the three-button option so that we can somehow gain from it. You’ve got every right to question the motives of a company that makes suits, but what would we gain from discouraging the three-button suit for men of average or below average height? If you’re saying that we are trying to get men to throw away perfect good three-button suits and replace them with two-button ones that we sell, again why would we offer a three-button option?
As a brand, Black Lapel enables you to have your clothes made your way. Here at The Compass, we provide guidance (hence the name) to help you figure out how you want it. We never said throw out your old clothes or waste money on fads, we simply offered up guidance which can be taken or left.
O.K. I’m 47 and I do prefer the old school or as you put it, I am the “eccentric uncle” type and don’t mind that perception, it keeps folks off guard. My preference is the 3-button suit, but I still would like to not stand out for the “bad suit” reasons you mentioned above. I am 47, 6’0″, weigh 205 lbs., with a 12% body fat (I have a nice 6-pack)(not a brag, just trying to give you the picture for an honest answer). Will a tailored 3-button look good for that body type? I am planning a trip to a pac-rim haberdashery in 2017.
Thanks for you help.
At six feet tall you are in the above average category, but not in the so-tall-you-have-to-wear-a-3-button-jacket category. The longer lines of a the 2-button suit’s lapels will not only keep you looking like you got the suit in this century, but also complement your fit body type by accentuating your V-shape up top.
On a side note, you shouldn’t have to travel overseas to get a custom suit made to your measurements. You’re already on the website of the best rated online made-to-measure suit brand by Yelp and Google ratings, Black Lapel. They’re all just a click away, no passport required.
6’7″ 200lbs. Athletic build. 2 button or 3 button MTM Navy blazer?
You’re tall enough to pull off a 3-button blazer. Read up here on what other customizations we recommend for tall guys.
I’m 6ft3, 105kg (sorry, we’re metric re weight in New Zealand), former rugby player with an athletic physique. What are your thoughts on me wearing a three-button suit? When you say that it is better suited (excuse the pun) for a tall gent, you mentioned 6ft4 and over. I’m obviously on the cusp of that cut off point regarding my height.
We think you make the cut for a three-button suit, Sulu. You’re a big and tall dude—don’t worry about being 1″ off of our mark—so a three-button suit will still help balance out your height with your athletic build. Just remember to keep that last button unbuttoned.
The tight fitting 2 button suits seem to show a lot of the shirt and tie when only the top button is closed. When the man gestures with his arms, the area opens more and more. Talk show hosts always seem to be re adjusting the button area. Here’s a business idea: instead of the old pocket square (for a little color contrast), use this open area for some color. The last button could be buttoned on both sides and the additional piece (v shaped material in a color contrast or same material as the suit) would attach on the inside button and would move into place when the area under the second button opens and expands.
Interesting concept. That’s kind of the idea behind the cummerbund. Since dinner jackets only have one button, the cummerbund covers the waist area where the shirt would, otherwise, peek through. You don’t see that in business suits. Although now, if we see a guy in a suit with matching cummerbund and your name on the label we’ll be able to say we discovered you!
6ft 6inch 135 lbs size 50 or 48 long 2 button or 1 button for a wedding
We make Black Lapel suits to your exact measurements. So if you were to order from us, you’d give us a full set of measurements and we’d make it fit you flawlessly, but we can’t speak for off the rank brands with generic fits.
As for the number of buttons, tall guys can look great in a one-button provided that you don’t have a belly. At 6’6″ and 135lbs. we doubt that’s a concern for you. Without getting a little bit more information about you and taking a look at some pictures it’s tough to give a strong recommendation, but if you’d like to use our concierge service, a Black Lapel stylist can gather that info. and give you a more specific recommendation. To do that, drop us an email at email@example.com.
Thank you for the article. Help? Read a number of older/mixed review articles on Four-button suits and not sure what to make of this style in our particular case:
Would a young gentleman of good torso/leg ratio/proportion at 6’1″ and 150 lbs be tall enough to pull off a Four-button tuxedo for a prom (nicely-made designer version 38L)? He would like to weigh more so hoping by design it might lend itself to that illusion, plus he’s fond of the ‘different’ look about 4-button vs. traditional 1-2-3 button tux which appeals to him.
Please advise if you might need add’l measurements to factor in your all things considered response.
Thank you in advance for your input.
Help has come to your rescue. We want to start off by addressing a few common misconceptions you have about a tuxedo and how it should fit. To start, tuxedos should only ever have one button. A tuxedo with more than one button isn’t really a tuxedo. You can read more about classic, black tie and tuxedo details here. We only sell 1-button tuxedos and that’s also all we recommend to those searching for a tuxedo from another brand. You can see how we style the one-button tuxedo on our models—some of whom have similar proportions to this young man—here: https://blacklapel.com/collections/black-tie/.
This young gentleman you mention does have fine proportions, but no matter how good ones proportions may be, an ill-fitting suit is always going to look bad. We understand his desire to look more filled out, but a tuxedo that’s too big will actually have the reverse affect. If he’s swimming in the tuxedo, he’ll look skinnier and/or smaller. Everything we sell at Black Lapel is custom fit, made-to-measure, and our flawless fit promise essentially says one thing: it’s going to look good because it fits you like a glove. We hope this is helpful to you and this fine young gentleman!
How do these rules apply to a kilt suit? Either Prince Charlie or day wear tweed/tartan.
Well, that’s a first in the comment section, John! Full disclosure, no one at Black Lapel has worn a kilt suit. That said, we’ve yet to find evidence of a well dressed man in a kilt suit ever buttoning his jacket. The waistcoat underneath covers the midsection and leaves no reason to close the jacket. And, while we’ve never made a jacket like this for any of our made-to-measure customers we can tell by looking at the handiwork of the tailors who do make them, that the jackets are not intended to be closed. So we say, leave it open.
so i’m about 5’7″ and about 130 pounds.would a 3/2 work for my body type, and if else, which style?
Good question, Rohil. You should be good to go with a 3/2 roll. When buttoned properly (only the middle button) the button stance won’t be significantly higher than your usual two-button jackets, this one will just have a cool feature that your two-button jackets don’t.
If I put a 3 button as the option for my custom suits, can I just e-mail you that I want a 3-roll-2 instead of an actual 3 button? Because I really like the 3-roll-2 style!
You got it, Rohil. Just send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org when you order and we’ll get the tailors to make you a 3/2 roll.
As I’m looking at this site I see you guys really know your stuff. I’m 16 yrs 5″10. I’m a little stocky but not fat, like 175lb. I currently own 2 hugo boss 42s that fit beautifully, but the boss 42s is much slimmer than almost all other companies who make them for people that are 5″6 and 200lb. The problem is that the suits are very generic and come iwith two button, two pocket, and notch lapel jackets with no other option. I like a more dressy look with a peak lapel maybe a ticket pocket, possibly something i can pull off 2in cuffs with. i was thinking of a 2.5 peak lapel with ticket pocket, am I on the right track? if you have any suggestions as to which suits on your site would fit my body frame and taste I would love to know.
Wow, Sam, you’re well ahead of the curve for a 16 year-old when it comes to suits. Keep it up. You’re on your way to a life of style.
To answer your question, Black Lapel only makes suits to your exact measurements so all of our suits would, by nature, fit your body frame. The first step in getting one is to create a profile and have a friend help you enter your measurements. Once your measurements are in, you can customize the suit the way you’d like and choose things like lapel type and whether or not to add a ticket pocket, etc. Along the way if you have any questions about measurements or customizations or want something particular done on your clothes that you don’t see on the site (like a 2 inch cuff), just email us at email@example.com and one of our stylists (that’s right a real living, breathing, stylish human being) will help you out. Pretty cool, right?
Hey when wearing a 2 button suit if I button both the buttons then I look slim so why should I leave the bottom button unbuttoned ?? ( I am 6 feet & 94 kgs ).
Also continuing the fact that I look slimmer with both buttons tied in 2 button suit. Can I go for a 2 button tuxedo for a better fit ?
Of course you CAN do all of these things. You can also go around with your fly open but if you’re looking for approval from us on such misguided acts, you’re not going to get it.
If the goal is to look slimmer, the solution is getting a suit that fits you better, not wearing one incorrectly. A suit that fits, that we can get behind. In fact, it’s our specialty. But even if you don’t get a suit from us, we urge you not to make the fashion faux pas of buttoning your bottom button or, heaven forbid, wearing the abomination that is a two-button dinner jacket.
So utterly stupid. Don’t button the last button because some fat society slob couldn’t button his. 3 roll 2 suits Double the stupidity. Leave the top and the last button undone and just do the middle button.
“”In fact, buttoning the last button not only screams fashion faux pas, it means you’re wearing the suit incorrectly. Suit patterns are actually cut to account for the last button being unbuttoned.””
They account for the last button to be unbuttoned? And how do they do that exactly? The buttons are sewn after the suit is tailored.
You know what I think? I think that when you do up both buttons on a suit, (if it’s poorly tailored” you get a “wave” or a bunching up of the fabric between the buttons. That means deconstructing the suit to fix it. (Because simply moving the buttons doesn’t change the button hole location.) So some lazy tailor, or more likely, retailer, came up the with the “fat king” lie, and the “it’s more fashionable to leave a button undone.” If its so fashionable, why the buttonhole for the button which should “NEVER” be done up? It’s absolute drivel. A properly made suit by one of the few tailors left on earth who can make a good suit, should be done up when standing, undone when not, unless it’s a one button suit. Which possibly are fashionable for the moment but definitely NOT stylish.
If we’re understanding the comment correctly, you claiming that there is some sort of conspiracy to get men to make and wear their suits incorrectly? That would mean that every men’s style icon from Nick Wooster to Brunello Cucinelli to Luciano Barbera to Cary Grant was in on it. And who’s behind the conspiracy? Tailors who ware shirking their work? Those are some powerful tailors. No? It’s clothing makers. What’s to be gained by adding decorative buttons and button holes? If anything, the people who make clothes should be conspiring to get rid of decorative elements on clothing since it means spending more on materials.
Sorry James Bond, but this is one evil plot that just doesn’t add up.
I have a couple of suits and sport coats that are very nice quality but 3 button. I’m 6′-0″ at just over 200 lbs. Can a tailor modify these to 3 roll 2, or have I no choice but buying new?
Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I think this would be a pretty impossible task for a tailor. You could remove a button, but would still be able to see the button whole on the other side. If you want to give it a good, I would look up local tailors on Yelp and see what they think about your proposition!
This is a late reply but I just went to a tailor to ask the same question. He said No. Anyway, I’m old enough to be a cool uncle from overseas now since I can’t lose weight anymore and I never stop talking about the golden years of my 20s.
Thanks for this great articles! Seriously! Its hot trend on Indonesia now because of people dont know about this information. They blame Jokowi because not unbutton the lowest suit
Yes, the buttoned lower button is an unfortunate trend. Not to worry, though. These guys will come to their senses. Just to make sure it happens as quickly as possible, remember, friends don’t let friends dress like scrubs. Forward a link to this article to anybody you know who you see walking around with their bottom button buttoned.
I’m having a sport coat made. Medium/dark grey pin cord, brown suede elbow patches, patch pockets with flaps, no back vent, contrasting (brown) button holes and a suede trimmed double welt ticket pocket. It’s for day to day wear (my job has no dress code), I would best describe my style as vintage/casual. Not today’s “casual” mind you, personally I wouldn’t be caught dead outdoors in a glittery overpriced t shirt, sweatpants and (gasp!) sneakers. Like many others of my generation (who I will apologize for now).
I’m 29, 5’8″, and 130lbs. Am I too short/little to pull off a 3 button coat? Is my design atrocious? My only reason for wanting 3 buttons is temperature. It gets a little chilly in Canada, a little more chest coverage goes a long way up here (especially if you’re my size). Thanks in advance,
Since you’re going for the vintage look, the choice of three-buttons makes sense since old school sport coats often featured three buttons. We’re picturing stylish gents like Gary Cooper and Cary Grant.
Of course, Gary and Cary were both tall men, so don’t expect the same results if you get a three-button jacket. Still, you can take a lesson from Gary and Cary, both of them were known to wear a 3/2 roll jacket and neither buttoned the top button on their jackets. So if you do go the three-button route, we recommend the 3/2 roll style.
Now, we wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t offer you another solution to the cold-weather problem: one of our made-to-measure, cashmere blend jackets (like this or this) that are both warm and stylish. You can choose everything from button number to lapel style to monogram and it’ll fit you flawlessly. Food for thought.
I’m 5′-11″, 180 lbs, very fit with a big chest – two button suits just don’t work – the lapels always pucker and don’t lie flat. Three buttons work like a charm, nice and
snug with not too much cleavage showing!! I have some old 3-4 button JP Gaultier jackets that fit like a glove. Any thoughts on suits and body shape??
I’m a mid 50s, short, muscular guy. My preferred suit is a 1 button with peak lapels. Any suggestions? Alternatives?
Sounds like you’ve got a signature style, Len. We say, if you like it, stick with it.
That said, if you’re worried about wearing a two-button suit because of your height, let us allay your fears. While we can’t vouch for other brands, when we make a Black Lapel made-to-measure suit with two buttons we account for the jacket length and the height of the wearer. So you won’t get a two-button that buttons up too high. Everything in proportion, you know.
As for the lapels, you could mix a notch lapel into your collection if you’re looking for a slightly more laid-back look. The peak lapel is a tad more formal and more European. A notch lapel jacket, found more on American style suits and jackets, can also work as a sport jacket but now we’re just being really specific. Peak lapel suit jackets (with the exception of pinstripes) can fill in for a sport jacket with no problem. It’s really just a matter of preference.
I’m 5’7 and am interested in purchasing a three button herringbone tweed unstructured suit. I figured I could break it down and it has versatility, but I don’t know if the three button will look right on me. It’s supposed to be an ode to vintage workwear since it also has patch pockets,no vent, and fishtail details on the pant. It also has elbow patches. I don’t know what to do? I like the look and fit but I’ve never worn a three button. Help.
In short, don’t get a three button suit unless you want to look short. While we love your idea of creating an ode to vintage clothing, that doesn’t mean you have to make an exact replica of a vintage suit. The best homage you can pay to vintage menswear is to get a suit that fits your body (after all, old-school gents usually had suits made for them).
Our advice is getting a 3-roll-2. That’ll keep the vintage three-button theme going, while keeping the button closure in just the right place to create an elongating V-shape with your lapel that is perfect for a 5’7″ man.
I would like to get your opinion on the age limitations (if any) on the more modern “skinny suits” with the shorter jackets and narrow legged slacks. I recently took a trip to DC (a suit mecca) and couldn’t help but notice those suits on 90% of the men. I also couldn’t help feeling a little sad for the guys over 45 wearing the suits, even if they had the physique for it. The look seemed misplaced on older men as if they were trying too hard. I’m 53, 6′ 200lbs in shape with no gut and would likely only consider it on a dare. But, what do you think?
There is such a thing as age appropriateness, but we put more emphasis on lifestyle appropriateness. The middle-aged lobbyists on K Street would probably be best served with a more, pardon the pun, conservative look. After all, the people who run things in Washington tend to be pretty old-school in their style.
A trendy “skinny suit” wouldn’t be our recommendation for anyone, but a middle-aged man who is looking to wear something a little more fitted can definitely do so without looking like he’s trying too hard. He can just get a suit that fits well and look great, as Aiden Shaw continues to prove.
It’s been my belief the best way to “turn back the clock” on a 3 button suit is with a peak lapel. The notched lapel does give a dated frumpy “grandpa” look. A peak lapel with a dazzling tie is the way to go. BTW, you guys need to get away from these safe, boring, dull solid ties and splash some color and pattern in your ties. Women are attracted to bright coloring and it speaks C-O-N-F-I-D-E-N-C-E.
Peak lapels on a three-button suit would definitely emphasize the high V in the jacket. Not our thing but that’s why we make everything custom if it’s your thing, it’s yours when you customize your suit.
As for brighter colors, we’re all for them, but we don’t limit their placement to ties. See Using Color in Your Accessories, A Guide to Stepping Up Your Sock Game and Adding Color to a Wintry Mix for examples.
I like the 3-Button, but then again I am 6’5″. At that height, is the 3-Button the better choice, or just a viable option?
Height does make a difference, Wes. It’s a viable option, but we prefer the 3-roll-2 for taller guys, (see the 6’2″ Cary Grant). (Bonus points, this is a great look for being chased by a crop duster).
Is the one-button suit generally a good choice for someone with a larger stomach? I can see how the line might be slimming, but worry that the center opening might draw attention to the middle.
Your fears are well founded, Lance. The one-button look is most flattering to guys with flat stomachs.
Trying to turn a keg into a six-pack? You can always use this look as motivation. When you’re at the gym, just remember how dashing you’ll look in your new one-button suit.
What about Shirt types and suits? Spread, pointed, button down? Yes, No, when? Which type of suit? These are serious questions and would love some serious answers. Thank you in advance.
Shirt collar choice is really an individual thing, as we noted here. Spread, point and button-down collars are all appropriate with suits, so pick the types of collars that work for you and you’ll be all set.
Can’t help but disagree with this as an Englishman and a mod. Classic mod suits have a high-V cut and are nearly always 3 buttoned or more. I actually think they look a lot more sharp. Maybe it’s a cultural thing
Even though we’re not fans of the three-button look we respect your right to wear them. That’s why we offer three buttons as a customization option on all of our suits.
We’ll meet you half-way, though. We ARE pretty enamored with the 3-roll-2 look.
If i’m not wearing a tie, what do I button? I generally go unbuttoned in that case.
You kind of answered your own question, Alexander, but we recommend buttoning your jacket when you stand whether you’re wearing a tie or not. The button holds your lapels in place and creates a V that flatters your body no matter what body type you have.
I ALMOST ALWAYS leave my last button unbuttoned… but there must have been times when I’ve had it buttoned. I’m just curious but why do we have a working button when it is supposed to be NEVER buttoned ?
Great website and awesome articles, by the way.
As we noted above, the last button was originally intended to be worn but when Edward VII couldn’t button his anymore, other men stopped buttoning theirs and the fad became the style, which became the rule. Today the button is purely decorative.
Of course, if the unbuttoned bottom button really annoys you, you can dispense with it altogether and go with the sleek single button option which works well on blazers and many suits.
That is a very well written and helpful article. Many thanks.
I wonder if the buttoning rules apply just the same if there is a vest under the jacket?
Great question, Kadhim. If you’re referring to the never button the last button rule then the answer is “yes, it still applies.” Buttoning the bottom button will make you look like a rube whether you have a vest on or not. We’re not big on rules, but this one is one we stick with.
If you’re referring to the guidelines about buttoning when you’re standing and unbuttoning when you’re seated, there is some more leeway. When you’re seated you’ll definitely want to unbutton since the vest will put a little more strain on the button and this will only worsen when you sit. When you stand, however, wearing a three piece with the jacket open can give off a certain nonchalance that looks pretty boss. Still, for true formality button up when you stand up.
Nice article, big fan of your company and products. I have a question…I have a 2 nice Hugo Boss suits (off the rack) I got as gifts several years ago. From what I gathered their style is a little boxy around the shoulders, which a don’t love. I got one altered and wear it sometimes (when not wearing custom Black Lapel 🙂 The other is a 3-button, and has the boxy shoulders like I mentioned. My question is, what should I do with it, it’s nice material 130, I think, so I feel bad letting it sit in the closet…any ideas?
All is not lost, Chris. If you’re hoping to keep the old 3-button in the rotation, try converting it as a 3-roll-2. To do this ask your tailor to press it so that the crease of the lapel rolls over the top button.
Now, there are any number of reasons why this might not work. It sounds like you like this suit, though, so if you’re choosing between converting this suit and throwing it away, it’s probably worth a try.
What is considered the more handsome color outside of weddings and the like which are obviously black. In the Daniel Craig pictures from the Bond link it seems that a dark grey is the way to go (not sure the exact color because of the lighting).
We’re assuming you’re referring to the Daniel Craig image from our What to Wear to a Summer Wedding article. Are you asking for just a general suggestion on colors for suits? If so, you can’t go wrong with a strong foundation of Solid Navy, Charcoal Gray and maybe a Glen Plaid to mix things up. If you’d like more specific advice on building a suit wardrobe, you can always take advantage of our concierge service by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hi there, …am 6″2 and have a little baily. Any recommend what to wear on my sister wedding? 2button. or 3 button ?
If you were a few inches taller, we’d say 3-button. However, in your case, you can probably get away with a 2-button, and if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, the 3-roll-2.
I want that red gingham shirt! I can’t find it on your site?
That’s a limited edition BL shirt that never made it to production James! How badly do you want it? 😉
Haha well, I just want to replicate the 2 button outfit example you have here, it looks fantastic.
I guess I’ll have to find another button-down red gingham elsewhere 😉
Well first suit bought 4 days ago is a black 3 button but it is for a new job I may be entering.. Many more to buy later if I land the job. I was thinking white shirt and pink tie.
There’s nothing wrong with going a little more conservative for the new job. And you know where to go when you land that baby. We’ll be waiting. 😉
Best advice and looking forward to it
The two-button suit you show here is beautiful! Any plans to offer that fabric?
Jeff, we already do. 🙂 It’s our Navy Windowpane.
Really?! It looks totally different in this picture. It doesn’t even look navy here.
Its a dark navy and shot under different lighting conditions for the blog. 🙂 We’d recommend ordering a swatch of it from us if you’re not sure (no charge). You might like the Charcoal Windowpane as well. Just shoot us a quick email (email@example.com)!
Good article. But how easy is it to have an existing 3-button suit pressed into a 3/2 roll? I’ve heard it’s easier for a well-made canvassed suit, but not so much for fused. I’m considering having my dry cleaner press my 3’s into 3/2’s.
Larry, everything is easier with a canvassed suit! 😉 However, the canvassing does have a specific tension in the stitching that is designed to pull the lapel into a certain position (responsible for the natural roll at the bottom of the lapel). Re-pressing it will give you a new shape but it may not give you the natural roll that would enhance the look of your lapel. It comes down to a trade off and if having them become 3/2’s with a slightly flatter lapel would allow you get more use out of your suits, we’d endorse such a plan!
Do you guys normally finish the stitching on the reverse side of the 3-roll-2?
Yes, the 3-roll-2 has a fully function top button and buttonhole. The top buttonhole tends to lie right at the edge of the fold of the lapel and the button itself is hidden behind the lapel.
As a DJ, I spend my suited-up time alternating between standing calmly and dancing outrageously. To button? Or not to button?
Button, then un-button. Then button again. And un-button again. [enter dubstep track]
I’m noticing that the only people who look right in 3-button suits are English people ie James Bond (Brosnan and Craig both mentioned above).
So, is this an English style, generally?
I think I might go with the 3-roll-2, as I want a 2 button but I like the little touch that screams “i know what im doing!” 🙂
The English more or less invented the suit as we know it today so we’re pretty much sure they can pull off any look. 😉 Good choice on the 3-roll-2!
To show your disdain for the 3 button suit did you chose an awful tie on purpose?
The 2 button pics have a way-cool red gingham shirt and solid tie, the 3 button pics use a tie that looks like it came from a Sear’s store in 1987.
Love the article, and think 3 buttons are for chumps too.
Haha, Allen, we do sell that tie you know?! All good, we still have love for you even if you hate our ties! 🙂
That’d be pretty sweet if I could get a 3-button roll like the one Daniel Craig’s Bond had in Skyfall. I would definitely purchase a suit like that in an instant.
You certainly can and we’ll be here waiting. 😉 Just remember to email our concierge team with your special request!
Surprised at the thinly veiled disdain for three button suits! Not all are created equally. The best kind have a slightly lowered stance (like the 3/2 you buttoned up to illustrate a three button), and a slight roll in the lapel at the top button, like here: http://thesuitsofjamesbond.com/?cat=34&paged=3
I agree. Sometimes a 3 button works, especially in a very conservative professional work place like a law firm, accounting firm, etc.
Agreed. We have only love for 3-button suits, especially for those with lower stances and a gorgeous lapel roll like the one you linked. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be offering them as one of the default options. 😉 Great eyes on the 3/2 by the way.
Why in this day and age would you want to dress like a corporate Gumby?
We’re not sure what a corporate Gumby is, Mark, so this is a difficult question to answer. We can say this: we’ve got no qualms with Gumby, or Pokey for that matter.
Spot on Jovan. I didn’t notice that the disdain was thinly veiled however. It appeared to be more blatant. But telling guys they need to step into the next century if they’re wearing a 3 button, except on the flimsiest of parameters, is nothing but retail sales pitch 101.
Interesting you would say this, since Black Lapel, the people who made the suits you see here and make this website, agreed with Jovan in the comments.
Great article, Black Lapel Team! I never knew the 3-roll-2 suit existed until now. Thanks for educating this old school gentleman as well as including it as an option in your suit lineups.
Glad we were able to bring something fresh to the table for you Terrence! Is there room for a 3-roll-2 in your closet in the near future? 😉