How Suit Savvy Are You?

No matter who you ask, almost no one ever seems totally certain about suit etiquette. But there's no need to sweat it, because the "rules" are timeless and straightforward.
Leave the bottom button unfastened
on two-button jackets.


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Which buttons do I button?

In two-button suits, the bottom button is traditionally left unfastened. This is the most flattering and comfortable method, and it keeps your jacket from bunching up in your lap while you're sitting.

The rule for three-button suits is "sometimes, always, never." The top button is sometimes fastened, and perhaps should be for a sharper look, the middle is always fastened, and the bottom button is traditionally designed to be left unfastened.

The less common double-breasted suits are always fastened, because unlike single-breasted jackets, they tend to hang unattractively if they aren't.

It's perfectly acceptable to unbutton your single-breasted suit jacket while you're sitting to avoid unattractive rippling and bunching, and then button it again when you stand up. I'd be lying if I said I'd never practiced doing this casually and inconspicuously.

Generally your tie should be a different
color from your shirt.
What about ties?

If you're dressing for an interview, your tie should be darker than your shirt. The "background" color of the tie, so to speak, should not be the same color of the shirt, either, but it's a perfectly acceptable practice to wear a tie that contains hints of your shirt and/or suit color. There are some exceptions. For instance, a dark blue tie with a light blue shirt is considered to be neutral ground. There's a lot more room for interpretation in this area, but for a conventional occasion you may want to stick to more subdued patterns and traditional color combinations.

The most common and appropriate knots for suits are the Four-in-hand, Half-Windsor, or Windsor. Once tied, the bottom of the tie can extend from about navel-level to just slightly below the waistband, but the thin end should not extend beyond the wide end.

So, that about covers the basics. If anybody out there has any other nagging questions about suit etiquette, let us know in the comments section and we'll do our best to answer them.

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