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Surgeon Cuff Advice

Chiboy

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On Saturday, I am going to pick up a jacket I saw at the Zegna outlet a couple of weeks ago. The salesman mentioned getting real buttonholes (surgeon cuffs) and I have since gotten intrigued by the idea. They are expensive -- the Zegna store in the city charges $150 to sew them -- but I thought it would be worth it. I have looked at some google images, as I haven't really found articles on this, and it seems that some are four buttons and button holes, some are three buttons and a 4th button hole closest to sleeve without a button, some have the button hole and/or button in a different color. I thought something snappy and subtle might be a good way to go. The jacket is a gray check (hopefully picture will be attached). Any suggestions or advice? I never even heard of this or ever noticed this until two weeks ago, lol.

BTW, I am still getting used to this forum, so am not sure if I am posting in the right sub-forum.

IMG_1057.jpg
 

maxalex

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Working cuff buttons are standard on bespoke jackets, and some OTR manufacturers like Boglioli do it. The problem comes when your OTR cuffs need length altering (which they usually do), because the working buttonholes can’t be repositioned. (You can’t uncut a buttonhole.) That’s one reason why they are so rare on OTR jackets—the other reason being it’s a lot more work, since besides the actual buttonholes the cuff must have a working placket.

In your case they are offering to do all this work in the store after your fitting, which eliminates the problem of repositioning the holes. I would still question the ability of a store tailor to make elegant hand sewn buttonholes such as one finds on bespoke garments; likely they are using a machine, which results in a rather pedestrian finish.

As the whole point of working cuff buttons is to highlight the craftsmanship of the tailor (and the good taste of the owner), machine sewn versions represent a serious compromise. Will people notice? Depends on which people.

Regarding contrasting buttonhole thread colors and other wacky diversions: this is admittedly done, in Naples and elsewhere, but just because Elton John exists doesn’t mean we should all be wearing diamond-studded spectacles. With machine sewn holes, such embellishments are to be strongly discouraged.
 

Chiboy

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Working cuff buttons are standard on bespoke jackets, and some OTR manufacturers like Boglioli do it. The problem comes when your OTR cuffs need length altering (which they usually do), because the working buttonholes can’t be repositioned. (You can’t uncut a buttonhole.) That’s one reason why they are so rare on OTR jackets—the other reason being it’s a lot more work, since besides the actual buttonholes the cuff must have a working placket.

In your case they are offering to do all this work in the store after your fitting, which eliminates the problem of repositioning the holes. I would still question the ability of a store tailor to make elegant hand sewn buttonholes such as one finds on bespoke garments; likely they are using a machine, which results in a rather pedestrian finish.

As the whole point of working cuff buttons is to highlight the craftsmanship of the tailor (and the good taste of the owner), machine sewn versions represent a serious compromise. Will people notice? Depends on which people.

Regarding contrasting buttonhole thread colors and other wacky diversions: this is admittedly done, in Naples and elsewhere, but just because Elton John exists doesn’t mean we should all be wearing diamond-studded spectacles. With machine sewn holes, such embellishments are to be strongly discouraged.
Thank you so much for the informative response! I'm not trying to to pretend this is something it's not, so I guess doing something "creative" with a buttonhole color is to be frowned upon. The estimates I have gotten from the Zegna store as well as one of the independent tailors recommended above, is that the cost of doing the sleeve length and working cuff buttons is about $200. I can check with them, but would you expect for that amount of money that the buttonholes would be done by hand, or by machine? I honestly have no idea. It sounds like if one of these tailors does it by hand, that is the one I should bring this to. Again, thanks for enlightening me about something I knew nothing about.
 

maxalex

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I don’t know; ask them. Or ask to see an example.
 

Chowkin

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What’s the point of paying so much for handsewn buttonholes on the sleeves when other buttonholes are machine sewn?
 

breakaway01

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a hand-made buttonhole is not necessarily better-looking than a machine-made buttonhole. Be sure to ask to look at an example. IMO I wouldn't pay to add working cuff buttons to an OTR jacket but the value is really in the eye of the beholder.
 

Chiboy

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a hand-made buttonhole is not necessarily better-looking than a machine-made buttonhole. Be sure to ask to look at an example. IMO I wouldn't pay to add working cuff buttons to an OTR jacket but the value is really in the eye of the beholder.
What’s the point of paying so much for handsewn buttonholes on the sleeves when other buttonholes are machine sewn?
I don't know. Are Zegna (not Z Zegna) jackets not made with handsewn buttonholes? Are Zegna jackets not "worthy" of paying for hawnsewn buttonholes on the cuffs? I guess I was thinking "hey, this is a pretty darn nice jacket and I can add a nice touch to it." But I sense you are saying it is "perfuming a pig." Other than recently buying a Canali suit, I hadn't updated my suit/jacket wardrobe of '90s era Hickey-Freemans in a long time. I tend to only wear suits or blazers at weddings/funerals/fancy parties and just didn't give it enough thought. Now I am excited about and really like my Canali suit and wanted to replace my blue H-F blazer as well. Found a nice sale on this jacket, really like the material and the fit and the quality, and am hoping to finish it off as nicely as I can. So I am sincerely seeking opinions from those of you who are much more up on fashion/quality/etc.
 

breakaway01

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Not to criticize your choice of suit—Zegna makes a very good suit.
Working cuff buttons are a personal choice. Nowadays they don’t really have function, and the great majority of people won’t notice you have them. If you like them and you find the price reasonable, go ahead and get them.
 

Chiboy

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Not to criticize your choice of suit—Zegna makes a very good suit.
Working cuff buttons are a personal choice. Nowadays they don’t really have function, and the great majority of people won’t notice you have them. If you like them and you find the price reasonable, go ahead and get them.
Thank you. Not sure it's "reasonable," but a tailor recommended here charges $20/buttonhole ($160 for the suit), and I feel like I might as well do it "right." They do it by hand. We shall see. If I wear this jacket for as long as I wore my blue HF blazer, the cost will be insignificant. lol
 

maxalex

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What’s the point of paying so much for handsewn buttonholes on the sleeves when other buttonholes are machine sewn?
All buttonholes on a fine bespoke jacket are hand sewn.
 

spokebe

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Not to criticize your choice of suit—Zegna makes a very good suit.
Working cuff buttons are a personal choice. Nowadays they don’t really have function, and the great majority of people won’t notice you have them. If you like them and you find the price reasonable, go ahead and get them.
The function I like from surgeon cuffs is when wearing a shirt with forward link french cuffs. It helps to show off your cufflinks the most this way. This style works for some, I prefer discretion. But that could be a function of the surgeon's cuff.
 

breakaway01

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deliberately unbuttoning working cuff buttons to show off one's cufflinks is IMO tacky but yes, I suppose that is a function that some may choose to use.
 

maxalex

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deliberately unbuttoning working cuff buttons to show off one's cufflinks is IMO tacky but yes, I suppose that is a function that some may choose to use.
I know some people find the unbuttoned cuff somewhat pretentious, but at root how is it different from an ufastened lower waist button? Or lapel buttonholes that don’t fasten to anything? (Yes I know about flowers and wear them, but it’s still called a “buttonhole,” not a “flower hole.”)

For that matter, what’s up with ties anyway? A space alien would find them ludicrous.

Surely our clothes are amalgams of old customs and useless accoutrements, many of which exist only to demonstrate our good taste and good fortune. The alternative is dressing like Star Trek characters. So I unfasten my first cuff button without regard to what others may think. Although they are welcome to think, correctly, that my jackets are bespoke Italian.
 

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