Blue blazer’s brass buttons required?

Blue blazer’s brass buttons required?

Q. My uncle gave me his blue blazer. I really like the fit, but something about the brass buttons seems out of place. Do you think I’ll ruin the look if I replace the buttons?

A. Some men like the traditional look of brass buttons on a blazer, and some do not. If you don’t like them, you can certainly have them replaced with dark blue genuine horn or plastic buttons. They will make your blazer look dressier and more formal.

The conventional dresser chooses a single- or double-breasted blue blazer with classic brass buttons and a somewhat ambiguous fabric that is between the dressy look of a worsted business-suit fabric and the tweedy note of a sports jacket. He wears it with gray flannel trousers and a button-down collar shirt for a rather preppy image. On the other hand, the man who wants a blue blazer with more of a European look, may choose a dressier fabric (perhaps cashmere), and dress it up further with more formal dark suit buttons. He may wear it with a French-cuff shirt and cufflinks.

You did not say why you think the buttons look out of place, but a few possibilities are:

  •  A blazer with metal buttons displays a more casual image than one with dark suit buttons, perhaps too casual – and nautical – for the man who wears a blazer for business, or for weekend social occasions that are not on a yacht.
  •  The buttons may be too shiny and noticeable. Especially on a double-breasted blazer where there could be as many as 14 buttons (count ‘em), there may just be too many points of light.
  •  Some button designs have crests or anchors or monograms that may be too gaudy and ostentatious for a conservative dresser’s taste.
  •  For the man who wears French cuff shirts and cuff links or a tie clasp, the addition of metal buttons may well add up to too much glitter.

Actually, brass vs. navy buttons is a matter of preference, personal style, the wearer’s background, and the situation. Either type of button is accepted on most occasions. So, too, are non-shiny silver-toned or pewter buttons for the guy whose watch is stainless. Unlike most other tailoring alterations, changing the buttons need not be either expensive or permanent. So, there is no good reason for you to hold off on your idea.

Incidentally, a dapper warm weather look that adds a note of individuality while costing almost nothing – after Memorial Day and before Labor Day – is to exchange the brass buttons with fine white pearl buttons. Big plus: Three sets of buttons for your blazer can create three seasonal jackets for barely more than the price of one.

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