Monday, 22 February 2010

Double breasted suits - an explanation of button stances

Tomorrow I shall be going to try on my new double breasted dinner jacket from Cad and the Dandy, several weeks ahead of schedule. One of the things I'm slightly anxious about is the button stance, since I may not have made my desires clear enough. I'll look at this again tomorrow, when I've seen the suit, but to prepare, I thought I might start by making todays post a very quick run-down of the numerous button stances available on double breasted suits.

Firstly, the stances are generally referred to in the form AxB, where A is the total number of buttons, and B is the number that can be fastened. On any suit, B will be no greater than half of A, since only one vertical row of buttons will ever fasten. In most cases, however, B will be even less, since one or more horizontal rows may also be non-fastening.

In case that makes no sense; here is an example, the most common double breasted button stance:
It's 6x2. 6 buttons, of which 2 may be fastened (although most men will in fact only fasten 1). This creates a pleasing shape with the suit fastened at the waist, and the upper buttons spread, creating lines out towards the shoulders.

Less common might be a 6x1 stance:
On this style, the lines towards the shoulder are even stronger, but it is likely that the jacket may be fastening below the waist, which won't suit all men.

A 6x3 button stance is also possible, although fairly rare these days. There's one featured on the front cover of 'Sharp Suits' that I reviewed a while ago, but apart from that I don't believe I've ever seen one. They seem to me to create a very rectangular shape on the front of the jacket that I don't find especially attractive.

Coming more to the point of this post, and looking at double breasted dinner jackets - it is common for these (though by no means required) to only fasten with a single button, and I prefer this look as it differentiates it from a business suit, in the same way that a single breasted dinner jacket has only one button.

Generally this is a 4x1 button stance, although a 6x1 is also possible. The concern I have is that for a 4x1 there is a good deal of variation possible in where, exactly, the buttons are placed. The jacket could fasten on the waist, or significantly below it. I have every confidence that Cad and the Dandy will create an attractive jacket with the fastening point placed sensibly but, nevertheless, it is the one aspect of the suit that I didn't specify as clearly as I probably ought to have done.

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