Functioning Jacket Cuff Buttons

What Are They?

Simply put, functioning jacket cuff buttons (also known a Surgeons Cuff) work as their name suggests; they are real buttons that can be opened and closed.

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Non-Functioning buttons, on the other hand, are purely decorative; the buttons and the buttonhole are sewn on to the outer part of the cuff, and no holes are actually cut.

24 Jacket Sleeve Buttons

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Are they worth it?

If the jacket is being made for you (either just made-to-measure of full bespoke), then the answer is a definate ‘yes’. A custom made suit without working buttons isn’t worth the price you pay for it.

If the suit is off the peg, then the answer depends on how well the jacket fits you. The cuff can only be taken up by, at most, 1/2″ (depending on the distance from the bottom button and the end of the cuff); any more than that and the sleeve has to be taken up at the shoulder, which is a difficult and expensive procedure. If you are one of the lucky few who can find a jacket that fits perfectly off the peg, then go for working buttons; otherwise, don’t risk it. The good news is that any half decent tailor can add functioning buttons to a jacket, for relatively low cost ($5+ for each button).

Why do you need functioning buttons?

In a practical sense, functional buttons allow you to roll up your sleeves when you are working, for instance, if you need to perform emergency surgery (hence the name Surgeons Cuff); or when you just want to feel a cool breeze on your arms.

From an aesthetic perspective, functioning buttons are, theoretically, a sign of a higher quality suit; to this end, the bottom button is usually left undone, to show that it can be undone; most suit makers will give you the option to have the stitching on this buttonhole be done in a colour that contrasts with the suit, to help draw attention to it. I only recommend this for casual jackets, and even then, try and make it subtle.

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Contrasting stitching on a casual blazer

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