I’m often reminded that I hold many tendencies and preferences that are at odds with prescribed iGent decorum. While many of my most egregious infractions of this holier-than-thou institution are rooted in my stubborn refusal to depart reality – my refusal to wear a tie when everyone else at the party will be in jeans; not taking the time of day into consideration when selecting a shirt color; my never having masturbated to shell cordovan shoes – there are certain things I do without much thought or will “to rebel.”
One of these subconscious tendencies that really seems to befuddle people is my penchant for wearing my jackets unbuttoned when standing.
For those of you just joining us, there is a less-than-unstated rule that says a gentleman should always have his jacket buttoned with standing. Conversely, he should always unbutton his jacket when taking his seat. That is, unless he is wearing a double-breasted jacket, in which case he should leave the jacket buttoned.
Just typing that synopsis shot an anachronistic chill up my spine. There is nothing less punk rock than talking about buttons – except maybe talking about how and when they should be buttoned. Ergo, if you subscribe to the above “on principle” alone, you’re probably willfully reading this post on Internet Explorer.
Then there is the argument that wearing a jacket unbuttoned will make the wearer look fat or in some way “more frumpy.” While this argument has more merit to me (after all, the jacket is made to be buttoned), it still presupposes an outcome that I have yet to experience.
If a jacket fits you well and flatters your natural proportions, it will not visibly add weight to your frame when worn unbuttoned. In case you don’t believe me, see here, here, here, and here.
What you will note, however, is that each of the men in the above images look incredibly at ease with their jacket. They seem more approachable, more light-hearted. I won’t assume this is the sole reason that I wear my jackets unbuttoned most of the time, but there is likely a direct correlation between my perceptions of an open jacket vs. how I wear my own clothing.
And really, that’s just it: Wearing a jacket open just feels more natural for me. Maybe this stems from laziness, maybe it really is a bad habit, but fastening up in the name of “etiquette” is the last thing I think of when donning a jacket.
At the end of the day I can appreciate why some men choose to only wear their jackets buttoned. However, I say to this thorax-cloaking class, why? It’s likely that the reasons you wear your jackets buttoned – “I can’t pull off the unbuttoned jacket;” “I think it looks better;” “I feel more comfortable.” – are (more or less) the same as my justifications for not.
“It’s the way it’s always been done” is about as terrible an ethos as there is. Question authority, burn the temples, kill your heroes, wear your jackets unbuttoned.