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The Button Dilemma (return of the 2B)

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
So our office copy of the Wall Street Journal has a bit of fluff in the Personal Journal section today.... trumpeting the "return" of the 2-button suit. Unfortunately, the online Journal is subscription only, perhaps another SFer could provide an active username and password, or post the text somehow. I found it notable for a couple of reasons, among them the fact that the Journal is usually a real hoot when it comes to reporting on style. They tend to load up the articles with statistics and business jargon, I assume to make it more relative to their typical reader. This one actually has some pics of the "old" 2-button style vs. the "new", with the main differences being a slightly higher button stance, higher notch, and skinnier lapels. Personally, I would probably also have added an overall "skinnier" cut. I did get a kick out of some guy's quote to the effect that he had reverted to 2-buttons because he felt that in meetings "people were staring" at his third button. That's silly enough that I have to spell it fully: Laugh Out Loud. I know both styles have their support at SF, and probably many of us have a "mixed closet". Hard to imagine either style getting so far out of fashion that it would truly garner a stare, at least strictly on the basis of the number of buttons. Some department store conglomerate or other reported that 2-buttons now make up 70% of their sales, but I don't think it said what the low point was for the 2Bs. Of course, you could probably make the argument that one should take whatever fashion advice that the Wall Street Journal dispenses, then do the exact opposite, and be much safer. Anyhoo, I have personally always been more of a 2-button guy. They seem to flatter me a bit more than the 3s do, and I just like showing that little bit more shirt and tie that (to me) lends more of a V-shape. I do have a 3B in glen plaid, and one in blue (not quite a navy, sort of a medium blue, I'd say), and I wear them both quite a bit-- but the remainder of my single breasted suits are all 2-buttons. I got no gripes about 3s, just a personal preference. Anybody else see the article? Comments? Any of you conform to just one style?
post #2 of 29
Raise the button point and the gorge and the 2-button looks good on the vast majority of guys. Much better than the blasted true 3-button. Ahem.
post #3 of 29
my prayers have been answered. If I see another 3B SB suit manufactured where the roll of the lapel ends at the top button, I am going to throw up (on the offending suit, of course). Here's to the return of classicism (clinking of glass). Now, we need to work on those god awful square toe shoes the new associates at my accounting firm consider proper.
post #4 of 29
Thread Starter 
Forgot to mention: the section's front page photo of the "old" 2-button wasn't a suit at all, but rather a suit jacket or sport coat with a (non-matching, by definition) pair of pants. I hate when they get stuff like that wrong. I believe all of the text referred to "suits".
post #5 of 29
I'll show my age in this, but I've always found the 3B style objectionable; especially of late with the high, high button stance. I think the 3B jackets look like a soda jerk's work frock. (Ducking now to avoid various thrown objects) I'm surprised at the clothier's comment about 2B now making up such a large part of their sales: eighteen months ago I scoured my city for a 2B black suit (ducking again.) for one of my daughter's weddings. There was ONE, and luckily, in my size. Everything else was 3B. And perhaps this should be posted at AAAC, but I see a 2B cut as a timeless style, whereas 3B+ seem to fade into and out of fashion. At my age a new suit has become sort of a lifetime investment. I'll stick to safe styling, in which I am comfortable, rather than the most up-to-date. But of the highest quality, of course.
post #6 of 29
Two button suits and jackets have been back for ages, well, for at least 5 years. But guys are generally resistant to change, so only now are mainstream manufacturers staring to make them. I think that two, two and a half, and three button suits can all look good, depending on the fit. And of course, depending on the person. George Clooney will look better than the majority of us even if he were wearing a Jos. A. Banks suit and we were all wearing bespoke Kitons. For those of us not endowed with being really, really, good looking, exuding confidence, and (less importantly,) staying in shape, is the best we can do to look good no matter what we're wearing.
post #7 of 29
I really can't stand true 3-buttons. I think a middle-stance 2b looks best.
post #8 of 29
Sorry, no pictures, but here's the text. The Button Dilemma Classic Look Returns to Suits: Assessing the State of Your Closet By SUEIN HWANG Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL March 10, 2005; Page D1 After years of ceding the front of men's closets to more fashion-forward three-button suits, the two-button is re-emerging from the shadows. In the 1990s, designers and retailers pushed three-buttons as the new standard -- for a while, the number even crept up to four buttons -- and eventually converted the majority of new-suit buyers nationwide. Now, sales of two-buttons are rising again at luxury retailers like Barneys New York and Neiman Marcus. Mitchells/Richards, a high-end Connecticut retailer, estimates that 20% of its suit-wearers switched back to two-buttons this past season, making two-buttons now 70% of its total suit sales. The emerging two-button suit has a higher top button than its predecessors. \t Some clothing designers have almost entirely eliminated three-button suits from their lines. "There's been a return to the power suit, and the power suit was never a three-button suit," says designer John Varvatos, who isn't offering any three-button suits this year. But for men who might view this as a chance to simply revert to their two-buttons from the 1990s, there is a catch. In an effort to get change-resistant male consumers to stock their wardrobes with new suits, instead of just de-mothballing their old ones, designers are moving around the buttons on the front of the jacket. In some cases, the buttons are as much as an inch and a half higher than before. In addition, lapels are narrower, and the notch near the collar is moving higher too. People 'Staring' That means for men the dilemma isn't just how many buttons, but where they are on the suit. Mario Almonte, a New York marketing communications vice-president, says that for important meetings, he has reverted to his old two-buttons. In a three-button, he says, "it almost feels like people are staring at my third button." However, he says, his old suits may be just a stopgap measure, because the cut doesn't quite match the newer ones. How to wear a three-button. They're still fine, as long as half or more of the tie shows. And don't button the top button. \t All this is happening at a time when tailored clothing is re-establishing itself as a staple of business attire. Sales of men's suits, which sank dramatically in the late-1990s dot-com casual boom, are enjoying a major resurgence. After shrinking as much as 20% during that period, tales of men's tailored clothing increased 24% last year, according to research outfit NPD Group. That such subtleties as a one-inch shift in a button should matter at all is a reflection of how tough it is for menswear designers to come up with something new. Because men are generally far slower than women to adopt a new look, there isn't a lot a designer can do without alienating the core audience. Indeed, while two-button suits (the standard for decades) became the minority over the years, they never went away. Even when three-buttons were at their peak, two buttons were more than a third of Mitchells/Richards suit sales. In recent years, men's fashions have started changing at a faster pace than before, particularly on the coasts and in urban centers. That is partly due to a younger generation who are embracing fashion as wholeheartedly as their elders once ignored it. Jennifer Robinson, a divisional merchandise manager for men's clothing at Dallas-based Neiman Marcus, notes that flat-front dress pants, for instance, emerged as a significant portion of total sales in just the past six to eight months. Of course, lots of people are still buying, and wearing, three-button suits. The key, at least in the mind of the fashion world, is that the top button not be too high. "If more than half your tie is covered, excluding your knot, your three-button suit is too high," says Bill Cournoyer of Barneys. On older two-button suits, the lapel tends to be wider. \t The Navel Test With a two-button, the risk is in the other direction -- buttons too far south. "A low two-button is definitely indicative to me of a suit being old," says Mr. Mitchell, the Connecticut retailer. "If you can see your pants -- if your button is below your navel -- that's definitely not a good sign." Ermenegildo Zegna has raised its top button anywhere from half an inch for its top-end line, priced from $1,695, to more than an inch-and-a-half for its less-expensive fashion line. Armani Collezioni has also raised its top buttons, and narrowed its lapels. A three-button suit can still be perfectly acceptable from a fashion perspective, provided it doesn't look too much like one. Barneys touts a three-button made by Isaia: When the top button is left undone, the jacket "creates an elegant roll that looks like you're wearing a two-button," a Barneys spokesman says. New two-buttons also have a higher notch in the lapel. \t Some people are balking at the switch. "Whenever something gains widespread acceptance, the fashion industry has to get rid of it," says William Kotis III, a Greensboro, N.C.-based real-estate developer. Just a few months back, despite suggestions by sales clerks he look at two-buttons, Mr. Kotis doubled down on his bet and bought three three-buttons during a trip to New York. Two-buttons "should stay in the closet," he says. Most retailers away from the coasts still stock plenty of three-buttons. In fact, they remain the majority of suit sales for national luxury retail chain Neiman Marcus. Not that the new higher two-buttons are so perfect, anyway. While two-buttons generally are more flattering on heavier men, on more rounded figures, a higher top button can force the jacket open at the bottom, drawing eyes to the stomach poking out underneath. Ermenegildo Zegna pinstripe two-button wool suit, Barneys New York. Photographer: Gordon Munro/ElaineKorn Ltd.; Model: Timothy Briant/Ford Models; Grooming: Trevor Bowden/Liz Watson; Styling: Jason Wood
post #9 of 29
I personally prefer 2 buttons or the 2 1/2 buttons (like the neat Isaia at Barney's.). With the true 2 buttons, I use the navel test. If the button is below the navel, I can't wear it. An inch above is perfect, but at the navel (where one of my Oxxford hits) is fine as well (indeed, depending on my mood I prefer that stance). The 2 1/2 is so great because the lapel just rolls so much better, IMO, but you get almost all the benefits of a 2 button. The key though is to have everything working in unison. You can't have a high two button with a lapel with an average gorge height. The width of the lapel, gorge, and button stance must be in harmony.
post #10 of 29
As a sidenote, if anybody ever wants to read a site that requires registration but they don't want to register, just use
post #11 of 29
As a sidenote, if anybody ever wants to read a site that requires registration but they don't want to register, just use
Nice link. The WSJ site is by subscription, though. Some content is available at no charge, not sure about this article. Since I have a subscription, I thought I'd put it to good use.
post #12 of 29
Since this is somewhat related, I was at a presentation yesterday and out of the 4 people in suits, 3 of them were wearing 4-button suits (and the people weren't from the same organization). Did I miss something? It seemed very odd.
post #13 of 29
Were the people wearing the four-button suits young, middle-aged or elderly (old)? I actually like the four button look (something about the button number being an even number an adequate even number of buttons), but only if the button stance is high. There are some suits with four-buttons but with lower stances that seem to be a three-button suit being turned into a four-buttoned one... these suits really look odd. Anyway, guys, any experience(s) of people wearing five, six or more buttons for business events? WJTW
post #14 of 29
Since this is somewhat related, I was at a presentation yesterday and out of the 4 people in suits, 3 of them were wearing 4-button suits (and the people weren't from the same organization).  Did I miss something?  It seemed very odd.
What were you at, an NBA all-star game? koji
post #15 of 29
Two button on a sportcoat looks a little bit odd to me. I prefer three button, or at least 2 and 1/2 on a sportcoat (and never a DB) and two buttons or a DB on more formal suits.
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