Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Ambulance Chaser, Mar 23, 2005.
Simple question -- do you like working buttonholes on RTW suits?
Only if the suit in question retails in excess of $3000 (assuming quality is commensurate with price.). I'm talking about RLPL, Attolini, Kiton, et cetera...
Sure. Why not?
Sure. I do it.
(and, psssst, buddy, wanna know a secret? sometime I unbutton one button on one sleeve).
The thing is, working buttonholes, irrespective of the level of overall workmanship of the garment, are today an affectation. Unless you anticipate an emerency need to roll up your sleeves to perform surgery (One of the surmised original reasons for working buttonholes), they really serve no practical purpose whatsoever. If you're eager to do what some do and un-do the buttons, most "civilians" won't notice and those who might notice will be left puzzled. Even with my custom-made suits with working buttons, I don't un-button any of them because it's kind of tacky---You really want people to be impressed with the overall fit and form of the suit, not the buttons. Then, you'll convey the image of being "buttoned up".
But if you leave them buttoned, it is a harmless affectation.
Like good buttonholes where they matter, or pick stitching, or...
Just a quick postscript, that making working buttonholes is part art and part craft that is often left to specialists. My tailor in NY, for example, is skilled in making an entire suit from scratch, but he gives the task of buttonholes to an Asian lady with "magic fingers". And, if the buttons and buttonholes are not aligned properly, or if the holes are not cut and sewn properly, they won't button smoothlyy and the whole thing will look unsightly. So, my advice is to leave well enough alone, no ifs, ands, or buttonholes.
I'm having this debate with myself regarding a couple of untailored suits. For the Hickey Freeman that I posted about, I think I'll spend the $65 to have working buttonholes done. I'm now to the point where really appreciate handmade buttonholes and think that it does add something to a suit (even if only I can notice). But for the other untailored suit in my closet, I think I'll just save the money and have the buttons sewed on with no faux buttonholes. We'll see.
I would save the money and not get working buttonholes. I have working buttonholes on some RTW Oxxford sport coats and frankly they add absolutely nothing to the coat. Sure the horn buttons are beautiful and Oxxford did a great job in sewing, but I tend to notice that the coat is too long and not broad enough in the chest (it is RTW) more than I notice the buttonholes. I also would never leave one of the buttons unbuttoned. It strikes me as an obnoxious affection.
I assume you mean sleeve buttons. If not, I would never purchase a suit that lacked working buttonholes, since that would prevent me from fastening the front of the suit. I like the fact that my custom suits have working sleeve buttonholes, though I generally do not leave them unbuttoned. I would not pay to have them added on a RTW suit, since I don't see it as adding anything to the fit or value of the suit. Since even the cheapest suits and sport coats now may have working sleeve buttons (I recently saw a made in Thailand cotton RL Polo sport coat with them, and have also seen cheap suits at Marshall's with them) the display of an unbuttoned sleeve (while fun) does not necessarily serve as a measure of the quality of the coat.
In what I guess is a gesture of one-upsmanship, I've been seeing otherwise intelligent men un-doing 2 and even 3 buttons out of the 4 buttons on *both* sleeves. If someone really has an uncontrolled urge to un-button, just discreetly un-do one button on just one cuff. If this is a contest, the winner was the fellow I saw recently who un-buttoned all 8 buttons on his sleeves. No kidding. Wonder what he had up his sleeve.
Most of my RTW suits and sportjackets have working buttonholes but I don't leave the buttonholes unfastened and agree with Bry2000 that it isn't a feature that adds much. I'm neutral on it.
Whether one wants to pay extra for working buttonholes is a personal decision.
But, the question as posted suggests that working buttonholes are more appropriate (or are only appropriate) on bespoke suits. Why is this? If the buttons were traditionally supposed to be functional, why would it be wrong to have them on RTW suits as well?
I agree that working sleeve buttonholes add little to a jacket, but I dislike the way buttons sewn on a sleeve look otherwise. It looks to me like the spare buttons that are sewn near the bottom of a shirt placket. One could make the argument for faux buttonholes in addition to buttons, but I don't know how many artificial details need to be added.
I'll be merciful and post just one add'l thought in this
regard: One key difference beteen a RTW garment and a custom-made one is the latter, beng handmade, will have slight imperfections here and there. The human hand cannot create anything with the absolute perfection of a machine. Handmade working buttons usually have imperfections, too, even if made by an expert. Each of the sleeve buttons will lay slightly differently. That's the beauty of a handmade garment, however many perfectionists, for this very reason, are better suited (pun intended) for a machine-made, RTW garment, as it will have a higher level of perfection of manufacture. With a RTW garment, the sleeve buttons will likely line up perfectly. Having handmade, imperfect sleeve buttons on a perfect RTM garment might look inconsistent overall. On this subject, I promise no mas.
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