Two Lapel Buttonholes on a Double-Breasted Jacket

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For-Your-Eyes-Only-Blazer-3
A buttonhole in each lapel on Roger Moore’s Douglas Hayward blazer in For Your Eyes Only

Why do double-breasted jackets and coats often have a buttonhole at the top of each lapel whilst single-breasted jackets and coats only have a buttonhole at the top of the left lapel? It is because double-breasted jackets and coats symmetrically have both buttons and buttonholes down the left and right sides whilst a single-breasted jacket or coat only has buttons down the right side and buttonholes down the left side. The buttonholes at the top of the lapels reflect what’s below. Though peaked lapels on a double-breasted jacket never fold over and close like single-breasted notch lapels sometimes do on sports coats, pea coats and some double-breasted overcoats—like the greatcoat—are able to fasten up to the top. These coats do have a button on each side either under the collar or at the top of the chest for the lapels to fold over and fasten to. The two buttonholes on a double-breasted coat are carried over from these more functional garments.

A buttonhole in each lapel on Pierce Brosnan's double-breasted overcoat
A buttonhole in each lapel on Pierce Brosnan’s double-breasted Brioni overcoat in Tomorrow Never Dies

Dimi Major put a buttonhole in each lapel of George Lazenby’s double-breasted car coat and blazer in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Douglas Hayward made Roger Moore’s double-breasted blazer in For Your Eyes Only, his double-breasted suit jacket in Octopussy and his double-breasted dinner jacket in A View to a Kill with a buttonhole in each lapel. Brioni put a buttonhole in each lapel in Pierce Brosnan’s double-breasted blazer in GoldenEye and in his double-breasted overcoats in Tomorrow Never DiesThe World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day. Sean Connery’s, Roger Moore’s and Pierce Brosnan’s naval uniform jackets and Roger Moore’s naval greatcoat all have a buttonhole on each lapel, and the greatcoat’s lapels can close to the top. Daniel Craig’s greatcoat in Quantum of Solace also has a buttonhole in each lapel, and like Roger Moore’s greatcoat it can close to the top.

Double-Breasted-Chalkstripe-Suit
A buttonhole only in the left lapel in Roger Moore’s double-breasted Cyril Castle suit jacket in The Man with the Golden Gun

Cyril Castle, however, only put a single buttonhole in the left lapel in Roger Moore’s double-breasted chesterfield and silk suit jacket in Live and Let Die and Roger Moore’s double-breasted suits, blazer and white dinner jacket in The Man with the Golden Gun. A single lapel buttonhole on a suit jacket discards the ancestry and symmetry of having two lapel buttonholes for instead considering only the actual usage of a suit jacket’s lapel buttonhole: the boutonnière. Even when there is a buttonhole in both lapels, only the left buttonhole should be used for a boutonnière if you are so inclined to wear a boutonnière.

Daniel Craig’s Billy Reid pea coat in Skyfall also only has a lapel buttonhole on the left, which takes into account the reality that even if the lapels were closed, only the left side would actually fasten over to a button on the right. There wouldn’t be a jigger button at the top of the coat like there is at the waist. Since the Billy Reid pea coat has peaked lapels and no buttons at the top, it actually can’t close at the top like a traditional pea coat could anyway.

No lapel buttonholes
No buttonholes in the lapels of Roger Moore’s double-breasted Angelo Roma dinner jacket in Moonraker

Angelo Vitucci didn’t put any lapel buttonholes in the two double-breasted dinner jackets in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker and the double-breasted blazer in Moonraker. This is the coward’s solution for those who can’t decide if a double-breasted jacket should have a lapel buttonhole in the left lapel or both lapels. Though history and symmetry says there should be a buttonhole in each lapel of a double-breasted jacket, it’s not a faux pas to have one buttonhole only in the left lapel. No lapel buttonholes at all ends up looking cheap and leaves no place to wear a flower.

9 COMMENTS

  1. I agree that having no lapel hole at all looks cheap, especially on a dinner jacket that was allegedly bespoke for Roger Moore. It is downright /inexcusable/ on peak lapel dinner suits retailing for $1000 or more, such as those from Brooks Brothers.

    My personal preference is for a lapel hole on both sides if something is double breasted unless it is a dinner jacket or overcoat. Doesn’t make much sense, I know, but that’s what feels right to me.

  2. I certainly prefer having the lapel buttonhole. Ideally, I wish I could button it when the whether turns south. Having said that, the extra buttonhole anymore is almost always purely a dispensable vestige of tradition from the origin of the modern suit jacket or sport coat. I don’t think it’s a huge deal when the lapel buttonhole is omitted, especially on a suit. Something like a tweed jacket is still functional against the elements, so buttoning up to the neck (if possible) is useful and desirable. Contrary to this, suits these days are for more formal occasions and if the weather is bad, one wears some sort of overcoat. I pass no judgement on the suitmaker who decides to eliminate one element of superfluousness.

    But like I said, I prefer it with the buttonhole.

  3. I chose, at my tailors recommendation, not to have a lapel button hole on my bespoke peak lapel, single button dinner jacket. He recommended it as a way to keep the cleanness of the silk on the lapel. I have since had this recommendation confirmed by a SR tailor.

    It does not serve a purpose, though it is of course traditional (but not mandatory) to have one.

    Each to his own I suppose.

    S

  4. Great post, Matt! So I have a db suit comes with only one lapel buttonhole, and I prefer it to have a symmetrical buttonhole on the other side of the lapel. But the problem is the existing one is milanese buttonhole. Is it that difficult to find a tailor who can do this in nyc? Make a symmetrical milanese buttonhole? Many thanks!

    • I’m afraid I don’t know of anyone who does this type of work. Wilfred is known to be one of the best tailors in NYC, but I don’t know how the place has been since Wilfredo died.

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