Suit Surgery

So, I picked up my two new suits yesterday, and when I took them out of the fancy bag I noticed that a cuff button was missing from one of the jackets. I didn't notice that when I tried it on to make sure the alterations were done properly.

Non-parenthetical interlude: What's the purpose of cuff buttons on jackets, anyway? They're non-functional. And why have four of them on each sleeve? Is the number an indication of the quality of the clothing, like the stripes on the lining of ties allegedly did back in the days that certain college students took their sartorial tips from Playboy Magazine? I have sport coats and blazers with anywhere from two to four buttons on the cuffs, and there's no clear difference in quality. As far as I can discern, cuff buttons are just non-shiny bling.
Anyway, the way I saw it, I had three clear choices in dealing with the missing button.

First, I could drive back across town, confront the salesperson, and try to convince her that I really was that unobservant so as not to notice the missing button when I tried on the jacket in the store, and that it didn't pop off after I left. That seemed like a confrontational time-suck to me.

Second, I could do nothing. Who's going to notice a missing cuff button on a suit? It's not like I walk around with my hands in a perpetual attitude of prayer whilst suit-clad. And if someone did notice, I could tell them that I have all my suits tailored that way...just call it my special eccentricity. The downside is that my wife would likely be the one to notice and she's already on top of my special eccentricities.

The third choice was the clear winner. I snipped off the corresponding button on the other cuff with the scissors from my mini-Swiss army knife, thereby addressing two needs: the need for button balance, and the need to play with knives. (Fortunately, it was the top button that was missing; it would have looked odd - even for me - to have two identically-missing buttons in the middle of the series.) As an added bonus, I now have an extra button, so I've got that going for me.

Before you go judging me (especially you ladies), look me in the eye and tell me that you've never performed similar surgery on your own apparel. Yeah, that's what I thought.


Since I am the daughter of a font of nickel knowledge, I can pass to you the exciting news that the buttons on cuffs were, originally, only put on the coats of military officers (long, long ago in the days of sabers, etc) to keep them from wiping their noses on their sleeves.

I can't promise it's true, but I don't really know why my dad would lie about such a thing either :)

Cecil Adams, that font of common wisdom and original myth buster, agrees with Beth - that Frederick the Great, ruler of Prussia from 1740 to 1786, had buttons sewn on the top sides of his soliders' sleeves to discourage them from using their coat as a handkerchief. As the functional necessity diminished, the buttons migrated downward.

Initially I shuddered when I read the words, " Who's going to notice a missing cuff button on a suit?" I have a sports jacket that is missing one of 3 buttons and I can't bring myself to wear it until said button is replaced.

Nevertheless, once I read your third option I smiled. I too have done exact same procedure on one of my 4 button jackets.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Eric published on December 1, 2010 6:30 AM.

Death by Facebook? was the previous entry in this blog.

Random Thursday is the next entry in this blog.

Archives Index