Monday, June 29, 2020

Wear the Flare: Why not to fasten the bottom button of your jacket

The world of fashion has adopted some odd rules over the centuries, and many of them are based in traditions that hardly even seem relevant anymore. Why are men’s and women’s buttons on the opposite sides of garments? Why can’t I wear white after Labor Day? Why did those kids at the pier call me a shoobie simply because I wore athletic socks with Birkenstocks? I can’t wait to answer all these questions for you in future blog posts, but today, I want to address an issue that I consistently lose sleep over: Why do we keep the bottom button of suit and tux jackets unfastened?


I spend an inordinate amount of time visiting stores and undoing the bottom button on mannequins that other well-meaning patrons have fastened, thinking it was undone by accident. It’s how I get my Fitbit steps in. But why does it look so much better to leave it undone? The answer lies in early 20th Century history, all the way back to King Edward VII.

Edward VII reigned from 1902 to his death in 1910 (Encyclopedia Britannica). He was well-liked and I’m absolutely certain he did some very important political things, but ask any historian and they will unabashedly say his most important contribution to our world is his innovation of the bottom button (don’t follow up on this with an actual historian, just trust me). Ed was a man of a certain shape, and found that when he fastened the bottom button on his jacket, it bunched up and was tight around his middle. He stopped buttoning it for comfort and found that the way the jacket consequently flared out made it much more flattering. This was back in the day when fashion was dictated by the royals, and it didn’t take long for fashion designers of the day to notice what he was doing and start implementing it into their styles. They began constructing jackets to actually fit better when the bottom button was left undone. The trend stuck so firmly that they’re still following the tradition today.

These two tuxedos are brothers- constructed exactly the same way. See how much better the charcoal looks flared out with the bottom button undone, and the light gray bunches oddly around the middle?

So when your big day comes, whether it’s your wedding, an important interview, or an enchanted royal gala during which you hope to meet your one true love, show up looking stylish, informed, and flattering with your bottom button unfastened. 

By Liz Preston 6/29/20

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