The History Behind 5 Strange Style Norms Explained
1. Why Is the Bottom Buttonhole On Dress Shirts Horizontal?
Have you noticed that the bottom buttonhole on your dress shirts are different than the rest of the buttonholes? It’s actually a practical design feature.
The hole is sewn horizontally so that the buttons can endure more stress from pulling/movement than the others without stretching out the shirt or the hole itself.
Think about it – the bottom buttonhole is usually going to be tucked in around your waist or over your butt. This area is the epicenter of movement and the shirt will be pulled and movedall over the place.
If the hole was vertical like the ones on the chest and torso, the stress from the movement would pop it off. Being horizontally placed gives the button more wiggle room. There’s also more stitching around the lowest buttonhole. It provides stronger reinforcement so that the button stays in place.
The buttonholes on the torso are vertical so the shirt can have the best fit possible.
2. Why Do We Use Monograms?
This style of monogramming dress shirts is a tradition that was historically practiced as a way to identify a man's shirt when it was sent to be laundered. Nowadays it comes down to a personal style and the choice to be a bit unique. The trick to monograms is to be discreet. Using your discretion, you have three decisions to make:
1. Placement – Monograms typically go on the cuff. Others desire to have them near the chest or below and to the side of the abdomen as well as on the back of the collar. this comes down to a personal preference. Some opt to have a crest or personal code of arms while other a motif or company name.
2. Font and Size – The font should be reflective of you and the size of the letters should be small enough that they wouldn’t be easily noticed when wearing your shirt with no jacket or sweater. The most common is script or block style.
3. Colour – colour of the thread that you use for the monogram can be the same colour (and thread) as your shirt or a contrasting or complimentary colour-it's about your personality.
3. Why Do You Leave The Bottom Button Undone?
Historically, in the early years of the suit as everyday menswear, it appears there were no formal buttoning rules. Look to trade magazines and illustrations from the earlier part of the 20th century, and one sees jackets with between one and five buttons, each buttoned in a manner that suited the personality of the wearer or the cut of the garment.
But much of this changed with a king who was too fat to button his jacket. Or at least, that’s what legend says.
According to the lore of menswear, in the early 1900s King Edward VII started the trend of leaving the bottom button of a suit undone.
Apparently, he gained weight and he was unable to fasten the bottom button of his waistcoat and jacket. To not offend the king, those associated with him started doing the same. The custom then gradually spread the world round (as England was still largely an imperial power with great influence across the globe).
4. What was the Purpose of the Storm Tab on a Suit Jacket
The Storm tab is that extra piece that hangs from the side of a jacket's lapel. It’s a detail that harkens back to a time when coats would often do duty as a functional piece of outerwear. Say a thunderstorm rolls up while you’re galloping through the forest. You’d flip the lapels up and you could keep the wind and rain out by buttoning the gap closed with the tab. Sort of like how you can close a trench. These days the Storm Tab is purely aesthetic.
5. Why Do Surgeon Cuffs Have One Button Unbuttoned?
The surgeon cuff signals that the suit is bespoke. The one button undone is a subtle way of showing you have a custom made suit.
If you want to take it back further, this style element gets its name from days when there were more physicians on the now iconic Savile Row than tailors.
Once the suit makers moved in, they catered to their clientele by designing jacket and making jackets with functional sleeve buttons that could be unfastened and rolled back like shirt sleeves.
This feature gave the Doctor the ability to work on a patient without removing his jacket, which is in stark contrast to the purely decorative and non-functional buttons that are attached to most suit jacket or blazer sleeves