Before you Button that Bottom Button, Consider This

With men's suit designs becoming more available to people of all genders, queers are suiting up all over the globe. But one issue came to my attention after a recent social media perusal regarding the bottom button of the suit jacket.

I realized that a lot of people in our community are fastening the bottom button of their men's suit jackets. The custom to leaving the bottom-button undone has been a rule in menswear* for about 100 years, and the majority of suits in the market are designed to fit in that fashion. As qwears with our own personal sense of style, we love breaking rules! But when it comes to the suit button rule, I felt I should go a little more into why the custom exists and its benefit to the community.

From: esquire.com

Once I started started thinking about this problem I spent the majority of the day jabbering to my friend Anita Dolce Vita from dapperQ on the phone what it means to break tradition and when to follow it, and then even longer to Ru about why certain rules are important. We realized that a lot of queers purchasing suits with the androgynous or masculine look in mind are buttoning the bottom button without realizing that it's running contrary to their interests.

Men's suit jacket designs were developed with careful tailoring to create an attractive contour to the body. Part of this design for jackets includes an extra button which is never meant to be fastened, allowing the bottom of the suit to rest comfortably over the hips. Brands like Bindle & Keep, Kipper ClothiersSaint Harridan, and Sharpe Suiting, are now reengineering these suits for women and trans bodies and sticking to this custom and while taking into account the additional room needed for wider hips. Depending on how one is shaped, buttoning the bottom button will often create an awkward pulling at the hips when the rest of the jacket fits correctly.

Bindle & Keep suit at DapperQ's fashion show in New York, Photography by Grace Chu

Bindle & Keep suit at DapperQ's fashion show in New York, Photography by Grace Chu

Women’s jackets are a different story; they are made with extra room in the hips to allow for that button to be fastened and can be worn a variety of ways depending on how you like it. In dapperQ's suit guide, Anita explains:

Gender normative womenswear is designed to accentuate the curvy attributes of female bodied individuals, whereas gender normative menswear is designed to accentuate the angular attributes of male bodied individuals, and both are designed to fit the fashion world’s definition of ideal bodies. As such, “womenswear” jackets tend to be more fitted around the waist to create a more “hourglass” shape.
— Anita Dolce Vita, dapperQ

So for those who go to purchase men's suits with the point of looking masculine, androgynous, or de-emphasizing your hips, fastening the bottom button will most likely not help you achieve that look. 

Bindle & Keep suit at DapperQ's fashion show in New York, Photography by Grace Chu

Bindle & Keep suit at DapperQ's fashion show in New York, Photography by Grace Chu

If you want to buy a men's suit and emphasize your hips, go ahead and button the bottom button. But if you are buying men's suits to deemphasize your curves, I recommend leaving it unbuttoned. 

Hope this helps you in your quest to stay dapper and make informed decisions about your style choices!

Your trusty queer, 

Sonny

Shout-out to Ru for helping with this piece!

Credits: Cover photo by Sharpe Suiting

 

As Qwear's Founding Editor, Sonny’s work centers around envisioning a future in which the clothing people wear does not dictate their chances of survival. Sonny was awarded 2015 dapperQ of the Year and was the first trans blogger to be sponsored by Topman. In March 2016, Sonny spoke at South by South West's first official queer fashion panel.