Tailor's note: March 2020 - One button or Two?

Tailor's note: March 2020 - One button or Two?


Designing your custom suit can be a tricky thing. Suddenly something you’ve only ever thought of as a whole item needs to be broken down into the sum of its parts.

These notes are based off conversations with customers and are designed to help make the process a little more familiar.


Disclaimer: These ideas are based solely on my opinion, please feel free to ignore, flout and disobey at every opportunity.


One Button or Two?

This is something many clients ask about - on a single-breasted suit should you have one button or two? After all, the second button is never done up, so is it superfluous? 

As I've previously discussed, menswear doesn't change as dramatically or as quickly as womenswear. But one of the biggest changes recently happened from 90's to 00's as city folk went from the baggy trousers and 3 buttons of Armani to the super tight, single buttoned Tom Ford.  

Suddenly men everywhere were bursting out of tight chests and tighter waists. Jackets stopped short of the hips and lapels were shaved to within an inch of their lives. 

Fortunately we have largely recovered from this period (which waistlines everywhere are thrilled about) but the lasting legacy has been confusion over the number of buttons. Is one sleek and sharp or straight out of a Topman window display?

Fred Astaire Single button

The truth is that although Tom Ford is credited with popularising the single-button suit jacket, Fred Astaire was doing it before Ford was born. Astaire was only 5'7" so his tailor wisely removed the second button in order to elongate his torso. When correctly executed it can look clean and chic, on a well proportioned length (for me that means it sits in the grooves of your knuckles), with a slim waist and broad English shoulders, it can look the height of sophistication. 

Speaking of height, it is pretty much the only thing which affects this conundrum.

The difference between Astaire's tailor and Ford is that Ford requires you to fit his clothes, whereas the tailor took into account his client's body and adjusted accordingly to make him look his best. 

Kipper & Chalk suits are cut long, with a soft, wide shoulder and a high waist. This means that if you are over 6 feet tall it is not recommended to opt for a single button. The jacket will look overly long and you will run the risk of appearing lanky rather than elegant. 

The exception to this is on a Dinner jacket. These almost always look best with a single button as long as the trousers are cut properly (ie on the waist not the hips) or a cummerbund is worn.

If you are under 5'8" then I would never suggest adding a second button. There isn't enough space. The buttons will seem too close together making your torso seem boxy and sqaushed. 

If you lie somewhere in the middle then the world is your oyster. Why not of one of each and see which you wear more? 

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