How Many Buttons Should Your Suit Have? Tailoring Experts Weigh In

Fortunately, whether you’re getting a suit made bespoke or picking one off the rack, there are a few essential styles that are a pretty sure bet to look good on most bodies and most occasions most of the time.

“I prefer a three-roll-two,” says Mark Cho, the co-founder of The Armoury in Hong Kong. “For a single-breasted jacket, the two-button configuration is probably what most people would know, and I like having that extra button there because it just gives the lapel a little bit more generosity in the roll and a little bit more volume.” If he’s getting a double-breasted jacket, Cho appreciates the elegance of the six-by-one (a preference he shares with Ralph Lauren) but for most people, he suggests the six-by-two. “If you’re new to double-breasted suits, I would say that’s where you want to start. The other ones are pretty esoteric, and the chances of you finding a good one ready-to-wear are low.”

Mark Cho’s preferred three-roll-two button stance.

Courtesy of The Armoury

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A closer look at the three-roll-two.

Courtesy of The Armoury

On London’s Savile Row, Campbell Cary takes a different approach, favoring the more unusual (and quintessentially British) single-button jacket. “It’s uncluttered, it’s unfussy, and it’s a really stylish look,” says Cary, the Creative Director and Head Cutter of H. Huntsman & Sons. Huntsman’s house style is a single-button jacket with a long lapel roll and slanted pockets whose cut is descended from the livery jackets the shop made for British aristocracy in the early 20th century, Cary explains. In addition to allowing for a better range of motion, the style draws your eye to the jacket’s narrowest point and makes your torso look longer (which is generally considered to be a good thing.) As the go-to tailor for elite clientele from Coco Chanel to Alan Cumming, Huntsman makes a strong case for giving the single-button look a shot. “Once you get your head around it, it’s very easy to wear,” Cary says.

The single-button suit may rule at Huntsman, but when it comes to tweed jackets, Cary appreciates the versatility of the three-roll-two. “You can still wear it as a one-button, but when it’s wintery and the weather turns, you can pop the collar and button the whole thing across. It’s very practical.”

If you’re interested in exploring double-breasted territory, Cary suggests holding off until you’ve already got a few nice single-breasted options in the rotation. “Double-breasted is suit number three or four in your wardrobe, because you always have to wear double-breasted buttoned, and that can be quite limiting,” he says. “Whereas a one-or two-button suit will always look great either buttoned up or just open with plain shirt collar with no tie.”

As for the three-button suit, Cary and Cho both appreciate the look, but advise proceeding with caution. “True three-buttons are a very 1960s British thing and they’re pretty rare these days,” Cho says. “I quite like them, but nobody’s really asking for them.” Since a three-button jacket has a shorter lapel roll (the vertical fall of the lapel to the jacket’s topmost button) it can make you look shorter as a result, Cho explains. “You just get this much more cylindrical shape. Whereas there’s a little more dynamism and a little bit more movement when you have that roll going lower.”

Despite the variance of opinion on which button configuration is best, five out of five tailors will agree that you never do up the bottom button of a single-breasted jacket, ever. “The adage is, “Always, sometimes, never,”” says Cary. “Always button the middle one, sometimes button the top and middle, but never button the bottom one.”

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