Sunday, March 15, 2009

Style: 2 or 3 Button Suit?

Here at east coast mark, we're going to start taking an occasional foray into the world of Men's Style. Style, by my definition, is a combination of a man's clothing, presence, and taste - the distinctive features that make up how you present yourself to the world. Style lasts. Fashion, by comparison, is fleeting.

As I spend more and more time in the business world, I've really come to notice some of the subtle choices that men make in their daily dress. I meet daily with men from every walk of life - from those fresh out of college, to CEO's of multi-million dollar companies. I hope to share some of what I see with you, gentle reader....and help you to emulate (or avoid) their stylistic choices.

To kick things off, I thought I'd take on one of the core pieces of any man's wardrobe: the suit. Specifically, we're going to take a look at the 2 button vs. the 3 button suit.

About a month ago, during the Super Bowl, I grabbed this picture off ESPN which shows the two coaches exiting their planes as they arrived in Miami. I thought the picture made a pretty interesting comparison of the 2 button vs. the 3 button suit:

Which is more your style? Which is the style you'd like to express to the world?

My first thought was, "That 3-button suit on Tomlin (left) looks very 1999." Tomlin adds a bit of youthful style by buttoning only the top button, going without a tie, adding a pocket square (though cheesy with the saw tooth fold), and plain front pants. In contrast, Whisenhunt's suit on the right, to me, looks more modern, more professional, and more timeless (though he could probably use a tailor's touch to bring in the waist a bit).

Without question, the 3-button suit has reigned supreme for the past decade. Virtually every suit I own is 3-button - though I've only been buying suits for the past 5 years. However, I think times are changing. For whatever reason, these days when I see a man in a 3-button suit, I can't help but think it looks dated. I also am immediately hit with pangs of, 'this must be his first suit.' Again, I'm not judging - I mentioned most of my suits are of the 3-button variety. Though, when it comes to style, never ignore your instincts.

east coast mark's instincts say 2-button is the way to go in 2009. I think the 2-button helps to lengthen the torso, and helps accentuate a man's shoulders and waist better. I feel the 3-button tends to be a bit boxy and chunkier due to the high lapel.

Here are a few more suits for you to compare:

The 3-Button:

The 2-Button:

In general, I feel like the 3-button suit is a young-man's game, and if you can pull it off - by all means. Still, I think back to my first job interview - and what did I wear? A boxy, ill fitting, 3-button suit. Do I still want to look that way today as an up-and-coming professional?

Next time you're in the market for a new suit - consider giving the 2-button a try, and see if it doesn't add a little something to your wardrobe.

Stay classy.


Anonymous said...

I am making a purchase online and I have a good deal on a 3 button suite, but being the profesion I am in I felt I need to carefully consider so I don't look "dated". Thanks for your input. I googled the topic and found your post first. All I own is 2 button suites but wanted to try something different. I think I will stick the 2 button given that I am not 6 foot with a slim build.

Anonymous said...

The 2 button suits are coming back gradually. Currently and during the past decade, the 2 button suit was specifically found in the geriatric section of clothing lines. The 3 button is being phased out slowly. I'd still to the 3 button for at least another year.

Anonymous said...


paid critique said...

i prefer 3 button suit but 2 button suits are also good. 3 button suits is good for tall persons but if the height of the person is within 5' to 5'7 2 button suits is Ok.

by the way this type suits is available at or

alligators shoes said...

2 button suit are much better than 3 button suits

richardwilkins said...

2 button suit is more casual than 3 button but I think it depends on what occasions or in the way how you are going to wear it.