The button stance of a lounge coat—whether it be a button-one, button-two, button-three or double-breasted jacket—is determined by the position of the button placed at the waist. That would be the single button on a button-one jacket, the top button on a button-two jacket and the middle-button on a button three jacket. On the traditional six button double-breasted with two to button, the button stance is at the middle row buttons.
There’s no absolute rule as to exactly where this button is placed, but it should be around the waist of the jacket and the wearer’s natural waist. This is usually at the navel or an inch or two above it. The position of the navel can vary from person to person, so it’s not an ideal point of reference. The button functions best around the waist since that’s where the body pivots. The jacket moves the best with the body when the waist button is at the natural waist. Alan Flusser writes about the ideal button stance in Dressing the Man: “The placement of the coat’s waist button should divide the body so that the torso and legs appear at maximum length.”
Some tailors, like Anderson & Sheppard, have a system that measures exactly where that button should be, whilst others eyeball the position. The position of the waist button is placed first and the others around it. Some like to place the button on a button one jacket lower than the top button on a button two, which can sometimes provide a better visual balance, but that’s more relevant with today’s trend toward a higher button stance.
The jacket’s waist button should feel like it’s in a natural place. Without any clothes on and without looking in a mirror, reach on your body for where you expect the button to be. Most likely, you’re naturally going to reach for where the waist button should go.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the button stance was very consistent on all of Bond’s suit coats and sports coats and placed slightly below the waist, around the height of the navel. This is a lower stance than what is most commonly seen today, but it flows well with the body. It comfortably hugs the jacket around the waist, and being a little lower than halfway down the jacket it emphasizes V-shape of a man’s torso and makes him look more athletic. A low button stance gives prominence to the chest and torso and the expense of leg length, while a low button stance emphasises both the length of the legs and the width of the hips.
In the 1980’s the button stance on Bond’s suit jackets lowered a bit more to follow the trend made popular by designers like Armani. Thankfully that’s the only trend of the 1980’s Roger Moore’s suits followed. A very low button stance gives the suit a more relaxed look than a higher button stance and further emphasizes a the torso, but it does at the cost of making the legs look shorter. Though Roger Moore has longer legs that can work with this style, it’s not as flattering on the majority of men. Moore’s double-breasted jackets by Douglas Hayward in the 1980s had the same low button stance as the single-breasted jackets. As opposed to the single-breasted jacket with a low button stance, the low-buttoning double-breasted jacket is flattering to the shorter man because of the long, sweeping lapel.
Timothy Dalton’s suits continued with the lower 1980s button stance. Pierce Brosnan’s suits in the 1990s also had a low button stance, but it was balanced by a longer jacket length.
For Die Another Day in 2002 the button stance is raised to higher than Bond’s suits had ever buttoned before. The fastening button is now exactly halfway down the jacket at the waist, though it doesn’t flatter Pierce Brosnan so much now that his waist is larger than his small chest. Daniel Craig’s suits in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace stick with the same balanced button stance, halfway down the jacket. As opposed to Pierce Brosnan, this button stance is great for Daniel Craig, and it works well for most people.
The button stance in Skyfall has gone against the current trend and moved down slightly to the natural waist, but it looks a lot lower than it is because the jacket is shorter. And because the jacket is shorter, if the button were placed in the middle of the jacket it would be too high. That’s the mistake most fashionably short jackets make. They position the button in the middle of the jacket, which would be fine on a traditional-length jacket but ends up being too high for the person wearing it.
In the second half of the aughts it was fashionable to place the button stance on a traditional-length jacket above the waist, and that trend has still carried over with some makers. It’s especially unflattering with the low-rise trousers that are so often paired with that style jacket because it shows shirt below the waist button. But now the bottom of the jacket has come up to, putting the high button in proportion with the jacket. Not following the trend and keeping the button stance low on Daniel Craig’s suits in Skyfall was one of the better decisions made by the film’s costumiers. However, keeping the button stance at the lower, traditional height emphasizes how short the jacket is.