All In The Details: Two-button vs. three-button (vs. all other) suits

September 14, 2012 · 24 comments

in All In The Details

“Get a suit!”
“You really need a suit.”
“You call that a suit? You need a real suit. Go buy a suit!”

For a lot of us, a suit is one of those items that we only need to wear once in a while, and we tend to not worry about how well they fit, what shape they’re in, or what shape WE’RE in until the day we actually need to put it on.

So, you need a suit… but not just any suit. You need a good-looking, well-fitting, classic suit that says, “Hey World, I’ve arrived,” or at the very least, “Hey ladies, I look great in my suit, check me out.”

Or maybe even just, “Heyyyy, ladies.”

You won’t do it with these

Not all suits are equal.

If this is going to be your only properly-fitting suit in the foreseeable future, you don’t want a suit with 4, 5, or 6 buttons (actually, you NEVER want this, unless it’s double-breasted, but that’s a different story).

You don’t want one with bold stripes or recognizable prints. You don’t want something too casual, and even though you may want to be like Bond, you don’t want a tuxedo.

Just tell me what I need

Here’s what I recommend: A two-button, single-breasted, double-vented, wool suit in navy. That’s it! Simple, right? The one above is from SuitSupply (so is the image and diagram).

Side note: You already have the perfect navy suit? Your next one should be gray.

The most common style of single-breasted suit is two- or three-button. Two-button works well on every dude. Three-button works best on taller guys with longer torsos.

For the majority of you, I’d suggest a two-button single-breasted suit. It’s tough to go wrong there. Depending on the button stance, a three button almost always looks too closed. You know the V that your lapels form when your jacket is buttoned? You want that to be more deep than shallow.

Take a look at the above suits from JoS. A Bank. A three-button suit jacket creates a shallow V, while a two-button’s is much deeper, elongating your torso and keeping everything in proportion while broadening your chest and making you look taller.

One style of three-button suiting I do like is the 3/2 (read: three-roll-two). What this means is that the lapel rolls over the top button hole, so functionally and aesthetically, you have a two-button suit when you fasten the middle button.

So technically, I’m still telling you to get a two-button suit. Here’s a bit more about the 3/2 jackets. The image to the right is from J.Crew, and is a perfect example of the 3/2.

There you go. So the next time you’re in the market for a suit, stick with a two-button (or 3/2, if you can find it), single-breasted, double-vented wool suit in navy.

When you’re in the middle of curating the lean wardrobe, this is the only suit you’ll need.

Speaking of suits…

How bad ass would it be to own a custom one, made specifically for you?

I’m doing a giveaway with Indochino in celebration of their Traveling Tailor service coming to San Francisco (where I live). Check out Tuesday’s post for a chance to enter and win if you haven’t already. You only have till Monday!

And if you’re in San Francisco or the Bay Area (or will be here between Sept. 18th and 23rd), make an appointment with Indochino and get measured for your very own custom suit. They’re more affordable than you think (and totally worth it).

If you book an appointment, you’ll score a complimentary dress shirt ($79) with any suit purchase. Click here to book your appointment, or check out this link:

I’ll be there Tuesday, September 18th around 2:30pm getting a fitting of my own. I’ll probably hang out a bit after as well. Come down and say hi!


Barron is the founder and editor of Effortless Gent, a site dedicated to helping guys figure out what looks best on them. He's based in San Francisco. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.

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