Recently a brief, friendly discussion started between a couple followers on my Instagram. The reason behind this argument? Should a man unbutton his suit jacket when he is sitting down or not?

First off, there is no right or wrong answer, even though rules do exist. But it makes for a nice discussion. Who said being dapper was easy, anyway?

Let’s talk about rules for a bit, shall we?

Yes, there are “rules”, and I hate to use this word when it comes to style and the way men choose to wear their suits, or any other piece of clothing for that matter. I hate using the word “rule” in this context because in one hand, it’s true, what we call personal style has its roots in a previously created set of rules (not necessarily, but this is often the case), but personal style will normally expand further from these limits.

Most men will feel completely safe following the directives on this subject, which I will explain in a little bit. This is perfectly fine and I see it as a positive safe bet for any gent. If at a certain time should you ever be in doubt whether you should button or button your jacket, please feel free to follow the rules below. No need to overthink it, really.

The Traditional Rules – Button or Unbutton Your Suit Jacket?

We have to consider there are somewhat different rules depending on what type of suit you are wearing: single-breasted suit, double-breasted suit or a three-piece suit. And whether you are standing or sitting down when wearing the jacket.

With this information available we can make it real easy to explain what the traditional rules say you should do:

Single-Breasted Jacket
Standing: Keep your jacket buttoned, except the bottom button – keep this one always unfastened, unless you are wearing a one-button jacket, in which case, keep the single button fastened.
Sitting: Get comfy, unbutton your jacket.

single breasted suit button or unbutton


Double-Breasted Jacket
Standing: Pretty similar to a single-breasted jacket. Keep it buttoned, except the bottom one. Nothing looks as hideous as an unbuttoned double-breasted suit when standing, please don’t do it.
Sitting: Feel free to unbutton the jacket, although you can still keep it buttoned as long as the fit allows you to be comfortable.

double breasted suit button or unbutton

Three-Piece Suit
Standing: Either buttoned or unbuttoned will work for you when wearing a three-piece suit. The extra layer of cloth that the vest (or waistcoat) provides allows for a little more freedom when deciding what to do with your jacket buttons. Again, never fasten the bottom button – basic stuff.
Sitting: Since you would be wearing a vest in this situation, you’d be better off just unbuttoning your jacket. Too many fastened layers can certainly feel a bit constrictive in this position.

three piece suit button or unbutton

So those, my friends, are the rules you can stick to and play it safe. Most men will feel comfortable following these principles and that’s perfectly acceptable.

Beyond The Rules

I know many of you, especially those with a very defined personal style, can feel too restricted by what the previously mentioned principles dictate.

Should you just feel free to go ahead and decide whether to button or unbutton your suit jacket based on what you think works best for you?


That’s what having (and owning) a personal style is all about. Know your basic rules, and the build from there to imprint your own brand into whatever you are wearing.

Remember I mentioned a discussion that took place at the beginning of this blog post?

It all started with a picture of a single-breasted suit jacket that was kept buttoned while sitting. In fact, this is the photo (make sure you follow him on Instagram, by the way):


Follow @thesuitedtraveller_ on Instagram – you’ll love it!

While it’s true that the traditional rules go against this. The man in the suit completely owned the look and made it work for him.

Could he had been a bit more comfortable unbuttoning his jacket? Most likely, but who cares about comfort when you are killing it in your suit like he is?

So there you have it, my dapper tribe. Now it’s up to you to decide whether you will stick to the rules or go beyond exploring your own style.

You’ll make it work either way. I trust you all!

While you are here, leave your comments on this subject below and let’s get the discussion restarted!

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