• Which is more acceptable for business two or three-button single-breasted suits, and which buttons do you button?

  • When I wear braces with my Tuxedo do I need a cummerbund?

  • Which buttons should be buttoned on a double-breasted suit?

  • What colour suits are appropriate for business?

  • My ties are of varying lengths making it difficult to tie
    consistently. The starting length I use for one tie doesn’t work the next time!

  • What colour shoes do I wear with which color trousers?


Q: Which is more acceptable for business two or three-button single breasted suits and which buttons do you button?

A: They are the same in status and projection of “serious business”.

Double-breasted suits were the standard until the rationing of cloth during WWII put an end to double-breasted suits. During and after the war the single-breasted suit came into popularity. The three-button tends to elongate your image, which is great if you’re on the short side, but not so good if you are tall and thin.

When suits became a casualty of the casual business revolution, suit manufactures tried to come up with a reason for buying suits again. First they reintroduced the three-button suit. Recently they are pushing the two-button. Both styles are perfectly acceptable for business, but the style of the moment is the two-button!

But don’t worry about either going “out of fashion”; rather choose the style you look best in. Both two and three button jackets are classic, but more than three buttons on your jacket get you into the fashion forward arena, which is more suitable for social events than business.

With two button jackets only the top button is fastened.

With three button jackets, you can close the middle, or middle and top button. Some suits are made so that the lapels roll to the middle button. On those suits you leave the top button unfastened.
Men’s jackets are not designed to have the bottom button closed.

Why never button the bottom button of your suit, sports jacket, and vest or Cardigan sweater?

King Edward VII, “Bertie”, son of Victoria (1841 – 1910, King 1901 – 1910) was so heavy that he could not get the bottom button fastened on his vest or to be more historically kind, maybe he just forgot. His subjects taking it as a fashion statement followed his lead and today most men’s suits, sports jackets or vests are not designed to button the bottom button.

The tradition of not buttoning the bottom button may have also come from the early waistcoats, which were very long. It may have been out of necessity of being able to walk that the bottom buttons were left undone.

Q: When I wear braces with my Tuxedo do I need a cummerbund?

A: There are two things going on here, which seem often to confuse gentlemen!
First formal trousers are held up by (only choice) braces (suspenders in American, but always the kind that attach to buttons inside the trouser waistband! Sometimes the use of “suspenders” is to describe the clip on type!

The other thing is that the waistband of formal trousers must always be covered! From the practice of wearing the jacket of White Tie open, and also that the formal shirt has a pleated front (to the waist only, so that it doesn’t buckle when you sit down). This must be “hidden” at the waist and is always covered! The choices for this “cover” are cummerbund (has nothing to do with holding up your pants), a vest or a double-breasted dinner jacket, which is never unbuttoned in public.

Q: Which buttons should be buttoned on a double-breasted suit?

A: Double-breasted suits are sold in different button configurations, usually indicated at “6 to 2″ (meaning six buttons, two to be buttoned) or “6 to 1″ (only one button to be closed) or “4 to 1″, etc.

The 6 or 8 button models with all the buttons designed to fasten are primarily Navy uniforms or old Edwardian styles. Most DB jackets will have two functioning buttons.

If you have a DB jacket that has two buttons that function you can close 1) the top working button, 2) both the buttons, like the very conservative Prince Charles, or 3) follow the innovative style of a 1920s Duke of Kent and close only the lower button. This Duke of Kent style presents a longer line to the front of the jacket giving you a long, lean look.

The DB jacket should always been kept closed which can be a disadvantage. If you unbutton your jacket the fabric bulks up around your middle.

Q: What colour suits are appropriate for business?

A: Men’s suits, designed for the dressiest business and social occasions have traditionally been dark in colour. The acceptable colours for suits are navy, grey, and tan (summer) also black, olive and in some cases, brown.

Navy and grey have evolved since they look good with the hair, eye, and skin tones of most men, and dark clothing is slimming.

Traditionally black suits have been acceptable only for social events such as funerals, and evening (after 6 pm) functions. They were not deemed appropriate for business because they were “too” powerful.

Women have made use of the colour for both “power” and a sliming effect as they have made entry into business at higher and higher levels over the past decade. This has made the colour more popular in male business attire.

I would use caution, depending upon your business and the occasion. I would not wear a black suit for a job interview

Q: I’ve noticed that my ties are of varying lengths making it difficult to tie consistently. The starting length I use doesn’t work the next time forcing me to retie a few times to get the length just right.

A: Men’s ties have no standard industry length. There are regular and long (for tall guys), but neither of these has a standard length and can vary quite a bit among manufacturers!

The secret is that the knot is constant! So the solution is to tie your regular tie knot, then carefully untie it so that you can measure the length of tie material that makes up the knot.

My knot happens to be the exact length between the small finger and thumb of my right hand fully stretched out. This is handy for me since I don’t have to take a measuring stick when I travel.

Since the end of the tie should fall within the range of your belt buckle (not above and not below) just add your knot length measurement to the length of your tie, below your belt buckle. So when you start to tie your tie, the wide end will be hanging below your belt buckle, the exact length of your knot!

Still confused? It may help to hold this answer up to a mirror!

Q: What colour shoes do I wear with which colour trousers?

A: With Grey trousers, shoes can be Black (conservative), Dark Brown (sophisticated), or Cordovan.

With Navy, shoes can be Black, Dark Brown or Cordovan.

With Tan and Olive, shoes can be all shades of Brown or Cordovan.

With Black trousers, shoes can be Black or Cordovan.

Cordovan, (reddish-brown is also called Oxblood, or Burgundy if it’s not Cordovan Leather) can be worn with most suit colours!

Source: askandyaboutclothes.com