How to Button a Suit Vest: A Step by Step Guide for a Polished Look (2023)

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how to button a suit vest

Proper Way to Button a Suit Vest

The proper way to button a suit vest is to start from the bottom and work your way up. Begin by fastening the bottom button, then move on to the middle button, and finally secure the top button. This sequence helps create a symmetrical look and ensures that the vest fits snugly against your torso.

It’s important to note that not all suit vests have the same number of buttons, so it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the specific design of your vest. Some vests may have three buttons, while others may have four or five. Regardless of the number of buttons, always follow the bottom-up approach when fastening them.

Tips for Buttoning a Suit Vest:

  • Stand in front of a mirror while buttoning your vest to ensure you achieve a balanced and polished appearance.
  • Avoid pulling too tightly on the buttons as this can cause strain on the fabric and distort the shape of the vest.
  • If you find that your vest feels uncomfortable or restricts movement when fully buttoned, consider having it altered by a professional tailor for a better fit.

Why Buttoning Matters:

Buttoning a suit vest not only serves an aesthetic purpose but also helps maintain proper posture and keeps your clothing in place. By fastening all the buttons, you create a streamlined silhouette and prevent any gaps or wrinkles in your outfit. Additionally, properly buttoned vests add an extra layer of warmth during colder months or in formal settings where air conditioning may be high.

Should You Always Button All the Buttons on a Suit Vest?

In most cases, it is recommended to always button all the buttons on a suit vest. This helps maintain a polished and put-together appearance, especially in formal or professional settings. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule.

If your suit vest has an odd number of buttons (such as three), it is generally acceptable to leave the bottom button unfastened. This creates a more relaxed and contemporary look while still maintaining a sense of formality. However, if your vest has an even number of buttons (such as four or six), it is best to button all of them for a balanced and traditional look.

When Not to Button All Buttons:

  • If you feel uncomfortable or restricted when all buttons are fastened, consider leaving the bottom button unbuttoned for increased comfort.
  • In casual settings or when wearing a suit vest as part of a more relaxed outfit, leaving one or more buttons unfastened can create a stylish and effortless look.

Number of Buttons on a Typical Suit Vest and How to Fasten Them

Number of Buttons

A typical suit vest usually has either four or five buttons. However, the number of buttons can vary depending on the style and design of the vest. Four-button vests are more common and have a classic look, while five-button vests provide a more formal and traditional appearance.

How to Fasten Them

When it comes to fastening the buttons on a suit vest, there are some general guidelines to follow. For a four-button vest, it is customary to only fasten the top button and leave the rest unbuttoned. This creates a stylish and sophisticated look. On the other hand, if you have a five-button vest, you can choose to fasten either the top or top two buttons.

It is important to note that when buttoning your suit vest, always start from the bottom and work your way up. This ensures proper alignment and prevents any pulling or bunching of fabric. Additionally, make sure that the buttons are securely fastened but not overly tight, allowing for comfortable movement throughout the day.

Specific Rules for Buttoning a Double-Breasted Suit Vest

Buttoning Sequence

Double-breasted suit vests have their own set of rules when it comes to buttoning. The most common style has six buttons in two rows: three on each side. To achieve an elegant appearance, follow this buttoning sequence:

1. Start by fastening the middle button.
2. Next, button the top button.
3. Finally, leave the bottom button unfastened.

This sequence creates a flattering V-shape at the bottom of the vest while maintaining symmetry in its overall appearance.


It is essential to remember that double-breasted suits are typically worn with the jacket buttoned, so the vest buttons may not be visible. However, if you choose to remove your jacket, following these buttoning rules will ensure a polished and put-together look.

Purpose of Buttoning a Suit Vest

A suit vest serves both functional and aesthetic purposes. Here are some key reasons for buttoning a suit vest:

1. Enhances Formality: Buttoning a suit vest adds an extra touch of formality to your outfit, making it suitable for more formal occasions such as weddings or business events.

2. Defines the Waistline: A properly fitted and buttoned suit vest helps define your waistline, creating a more tailored and slimming silhouette.

3. Adds Depth and Dimension: By layering a suit vest over a dress shirt or blouse, you add depth and dimension to your overall look. This can elevate your style and make you stand out in a crowd.

4. Provides Warmth: In colder climates or during winter months, buttoning up your suit vest can provide an additional layer of warmth without the need for wearing a full jacket.

Remember that the purpose of buttoning a suit vest may vary depending on the occasion, formality level, and personal style preferences.

Leaving the Bottom Button of a Suit Vest Unfastened: Is It Acceptable?

Leaving the bottom button of a suit vest unfastened is not only acceptable but also considered proper etiquette in men’s fashion. This tradition dates back to King Edward VII, who was known for his generous waistline. To accommodate his size, he unbuttoned the bottom button of his waistcoat, starting this trend among gentlemen.

Fastening all buttons on a suit vest can cause unnecessary strain on the fabric and create an unflattering appearance by pulling at the bottom hemline. Leaving the bottom button undone allows for better movement and prevents the vest from looking too tight or restrictive.

Remember, it is crucial to follow this practice regardless of the number of buttons on your suit vest. Whether it’s a four-button or five-button vest, always leave the bottom button unfastened for a stylish and sophisticated look.

Style Guidelines for Buttoning a Suit Vest Based on Occasion or Formality Level

Formal Events:

For formal events such as weddings, black-tie affairs, or business meetings, it is customary to button up your suit vest. Fasten either the top button (for a five-button vest) or the top two buttons (for a four-button vest). This creates a polished and refined appearance suitable for these occasions.

Casual or Semi-Formal Occasions:

In more casual or semi-formal settings, you have more flexibility in how you choose to button your suit vest. You can opt to leave all buttons unfastened for a relaxed and effortless look. Alternatively, if you prefer a slightly dressier style, fastening just the top button can add a touch of sophistication without being overly formal.

Remember to consider the overall vibe of the event and your personal style when deciding how many buttons to fasten on your suit vest.

Order in Which to Fasten Buttons on a Suit Vest

When fastening buttons on a suit vest, it is essential to follow a specific order:

1. Start by fastening the bottom button.
2. Move upwards and secure each subsequent button until reaching the desired number of buttons based on style guidelines mentioned earlier.
3. Always finish by fastening the topmost button that you choose to close.

Following this order ensures proper alignment and prevents any bunching or pulling of fabric while maintaining an elegant appearance.

Alternative Ways to Style or Wear an Unbuttoned Suit Vest

While buttoning a suit vest is the traditional way to wear it, there are alternative ways to style or wear an unbuttoned suit vest for a more relaxed and contemporary look:

1. Layering Piece: Treat the suit vest as a layering piece over a dress shirt or blouse. Leave it unbuttoned and pair it with jeans or chinos for a smart-casual ensemble.

2. Statement Belt: Wear an unbuttoned suit vest with a statement belt cinched at the waist. This creates a fashionable and trendy look while adding visual interest to your outfit.

3. Contrast Colors: Experiment with contrasting colors by wearing an unbuttoned suit vest in a different shade than your jacket or trousers. This adds depth and dimension to your overall attire.

4. Casual Suiting: Forgo the traditional suit jacket altogether and wear an unbuttoned suit vest as the outermost layer of your outfit. Pair it with tailored trousers and a crisp dress shirt for a modern take on suiting.

Remember, when opting for these alternative styles, ensure that the fit of the suit vest is still appropriate and complements your body shape.

Common Mistakes When Buttoning Suit Vests

When buttoning suit vests, it’s important to avoid common mistakes that can detract from your overall appearance:

1. Fastening all buttons: Avoid fastening all buttons on your suit vest, as this can create strain on the fabric and distort its shape.

2. Buttoning incorrectly: Always start from the bottom when buttoning your vest and work your way up. This ensures proper alignment and prevents any pulling or bunching of fabric.

3. Tightening too much: While it’s important to secure buttons properly, avoid tightening them excessively. A comfortable fit allows for ease of movement and prevents discomfort throughout the day.

4. Neglecting symmetry: Ensure that both sides of your suit vest are buttoned evenly. Asymmetrical buttoning can create an unbalanced and untidy appearance.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can achieve a polished and stylish look when buttoning your suit vest.

In conclusion, mastering the art of buttoning a suit vest is an essential skill for anyone looking to achieve a polished and sophisticated look. By following the simple steps outlined in this guide, individuals can confidently button their suit vests with ease, ensuring a stylish and put-together appearance for any formal occasion.

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