Working Buttonholes & Babies

During a recent J.Hilburn training class, a new Stylist asked, “What is the reason for having working buttonholes on a sport coat?” (It’s a $25 up charge—and well worth it, if you’re into fashion…or want people to think you are.)

Working buttonholes are when the buttons on the sleeve of the suit jacket can actually be unbutton. If you check in your closet (or that of a man’s) you’ll most likely see this:

Grey plaid suit by J.Hilburn

Photo by Lena Porter

which is NOT a working buttonhole

this is:

Working button holes on a sport coat

Photo by

Like so much of men’s fashion, it’s the details that make a statement. It takes extra time to make the buttonholes, which means it costs more to be made and/or was custom made. If you are a guy that wants this detail to be seen, you might unbutton one or two. If you are doctor (back in the olden days—I’m picturing Downton Abbey days) then you would be unbuttoning all of them…because you are performing a surgery or delivering a baby.

Come to think of it, did the doc unbutton and roll up his sport coat sleeves when delivering Sybil’s baby? I should have noticed this!

Anyway, that is the origination of working buttonholes—allowing surgeons to roll up their sleeves for operating. (Because of course, the thought of actually removing the whole jacket would be absurd! :))

Sartorially speaking, doesn’t it seem shocking to think of how…advanced/downhill we have become? While undertaking the messiest (most germ saturated) of situations, people used to wear suits! Now, you have to beg some men to get dressed up.

Speaking of babies, this weekend I’m hosting a private group Style Session at my studio…for a baby shower!



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