Saturday, November 22, 2014

Knowledge: Defiance vs. Ignorance

Some readers took issue with some of the items on the recent post with the list of 25 Sartorial Rules. 

I guess it's not surprising that some disagreed with not buttoning the bottom button of a vest. I could go either way, although I do regard leaving it unbuttoned as one of the marks of a sophisticated dresser, illogical as that may be.

I was more surprised at the dissent over leaving the bottom button of a suit jacket/sport coat/blazer undone. I'm aware that some jackets are cut more toward buttoning it than not, and I'm also aware that some great dressers, like Cary Grant and JFK, used to sometimes button theirs. 

I always say that most fashion rules are rules-of-thumb, rather than absolutes. I also always say that it's better to break a rule out of defiance than out of ignorance. It's one thing to know, for example, that the bottom button of a jacket isn't traditionally buttoned, but to deliberately discard that rule and button it anyway, for whatever reason; it's quite another to button it because you have no idea that it's not supposed to be buttoned. 

The people taking issue with this rule seem to have missed the whole point of this list; it was clearly aimed at educating people who don't know any better, not at people who do know better but disagree.

I've written before about looking through an album of a friend of mine on Facebook from Easter or something. An apparently 20-something female friend of a 20-something male (the husband of my friend's cousin) asked him why he left the bottom button of his jacket open, and he responded, "I think you're supposed to." It's like neither of them has ever seen a man in a suit before. THOSE are the types of people these lists are written for.


For the record, I think anyone who buttons the bottom button of their jacket -- even Cary Grant or JFK -- looks like a hillbilly.

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