1. And... we're back. You'll notice that all of your images are back as well, as are our beloved emoticons, including the infamous :foo: We have also worked with our server folks and developers to fix the issues that were slowing down the site.

    There is still work to be done - the images in existing sigs are not yet linked, for example, and we are working on a way to get the images to load faster - which will improve the performance of the site, especially on the pages with a ton of images, and we will continue to work diligently on that and keep you updated.

    Cheers,

    Fok on behalf of the entire Styleforum team
    Dismiss Notice

The Button Dilemma (return of the 2B)

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Keith T, Mar 10, 2005.

  1. Keith T

    Keith T Senior member

    Messages:
    1,432
    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2004
    Location:
    Texas
    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?
     
  2. Manton

    Manton Senior member Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    41,568
    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2002
    Location:
    In Hiding
    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.
     
  3. cuffthis

    cuffthis Senior member

    Messages:
    826
    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2004
    Location:
    New Hope, PA
    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.
     
  4. Keith T

    Keith T Senior member

    Messages:
    1,432
    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2004
    Location:
    Texas
    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".
     
  5. Dakota rube

    Dakota rube Senior member

    Messages:
    14,501
    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2005
    Location:
    A bit better than yesterday, all day vomiting for
    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.
     
  6. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

    Messages:
    33,406
    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2002
    Location:
    Moscow, Idaho
    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.
     
  7. Brian SD

    Brian SD Senior member

    Messages:
    9,760
    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2004
    Location:
    Tokyo
    I really can't stand true 3-buttons. I think a middle-stance 2b looks best.
     
  8. jekv12

    jekv12 Senior member

    Messages:
    125
    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2004
    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
     
  9. johnnynorman3

    johnnynorman3 Senior member

    Messages:
    2,686
    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2004
    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.
     
  10. dusty

    dusty Senior member

    Messages:
    4,859
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2005
    Location:
    ohio
    As a sidenote, if anybody ever wants to read a site that requires registration but they don't want to register, just use http://www.bugmenot.com/
     
  11. jekv12

    jekv12 Senior member

    Messages:
    125
    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2004
    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.
     
  12. jj4

    jj4 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    60
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2005
    Location:
    Seattle
    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.
     
  13. WJTW

    WJTW Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    99
    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2004
    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? [​IMG] WJTW
     
  14. Thracozaag

    Thracozaag Senior member

    Messages:
    3,134
    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2002
    Location:
    Cygnus X-1
    What were you at, an NBA all-star game?

    koji
     
  15. Giona Granata

    Giona Granata Senior member

    Messages:
    203
    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2004
    Location:
    Milano
    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.
     
  16. jj4

    jj4 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    60
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2005
    Location:
    Seattle
    They were Young - early to mid twenties.
     
  17. Carlo

    Carlo Senior member

    Messages:
    1,027
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2003
    To me this is kinda like the whole deal with Prince. I laughed when they said that three button, side vented was 'new' and I'm laughing again as 2 button center is returning to being 'new' again. I wore a mix of two and three button jackets all along.

    Kinda like Prince - He was Prince, then the artist formerly known as prince, then the artist, then that funky symbol... and I think he's Prince again now, right? Personally, I called him prince the whole time.

    Much like 'Ester' the material girl.

    ...so whaddaya do with a 4 button (ok, ok, assuming you had to wear it) ...button the mid two?

    Think I'll stick to my boring (oh wait, I mean latest trend) 2 buttons and my new (oh wait, out of style) three buttons.
     
  18. Alias

    Alias Senior member

    Messages:
    1,536
    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2003
    Location:
    Washington DC
    Hah, yeah, I've always liked both styles. However, I do favor the two-button, since I can get that waist button nice and high. It's a little tricky with a three-button; if I had my three-buttons cut as high as my two-buttons, the top button would look really weird, sitting way up there.
     
  19. retronotmetro

    retronotmetro Senior member

    Messages:
    1,645
    Joined:
    May 5, 2004
    I thought the rule went like this:

    1 button coat = button it.
    2 button coat = button only the top
    3 button coat = button middle only, or top 2 depending on roll
    4 button coat = unbutton all buttons, remove coat, discard
     
  20. Carlo

    Carlo Senior member

    Messages:
    1,027
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2003
    Retro - that was pretty much my thought.
     

Share This Page

Styleforum is proudly sponsored by