Why Do Suit Jackets Have Buttonholes in the Lapels?

Why Do Suit Jackets Have Buttonholes in the Lapels?

Ever wonder why some suit jackets have buttonholes in the lapels? Buttonholes are typically used to fasten two sections of a garment together with buttons. One section has a buttonhole, whereas the other section has a button. By pulling the button through the hole, you can secure the two sections together. But the lapels on suit jackets don't have buttons. Rather, they only have buttonholes. What's the purpose of buttonholes in the lapels exactly?

Overview of Lapels

To better understand why some suit jackets have buttonholes in the lapels, you must familiarize yourself with this area. Lapels are folded, flap-like sections of material around the collar of a suit jacket. During production, manufacturers make them by folding the edges of the suit jacket over and sewing them in place.

All lapels consist of folded sections of material around the collar of a suit jacket. With that said, you can find them in different styles. Some suit jackets feature notched lapels, whereas others feature peaked or shawl lapels. Notched lapels are the most common. Also known as step lapels, they are sewn at an angle, resulting in the appearance of a step.

Shawl lapels are commonly found on tuxedo suit jackets. They are characterized by a continuous curve. Peaked lapels, on the other hand, are commonly found on double-breasted suit jackets. Peaked lapels feature a sharp point or peak that distinguishes them from other types of lapels. Whether notched, shawl or peaked, though, you may notice that some sit jackets have buttonholes in the lapels.

Buttonholes Are Designed to Accommodate a Boutonniere 

The reason some suit jackets have buttonholes in the lapels is so that they can accommodate a boutonniere. Boutonnieres are decorative flowers. They are used to accessorize men's suits. You can inject new color into your suit outfit by accessorizing it with a boutonniere. Assuming your suit jacket has a buttonhole in the lapel, you can place the boutonniere through it. Lapel buttonholes support boutonnieres.

Boutonnieres have been around for centuries. The word "boutonniere," in fact, is derived from the French phrase for "buttonhole flower." It's a fitting definition considering that boutonnieres are decorative flowers that are worn in buttonholes.

Buttonholes Support Lapel Pins as Well

In addition to boutonnieres, lapel buttonholes support pins as well. Lapel pins are exactly what they sound like: pins that are worn on the lapel of a suit jacket.

Some lapel pins feature a butterfly clutch. A butterfly clutch is a clasping mechanism consisting of a pair of sharp point and a pair of prongs. Other lapel pins feature a safety clasp or a screw-and-nut clasp. Regardless, they have all some type of clasping mechanism. The clasping mechanism determines the way in which a lapel pin is attached to the lapel.

If you're wearing a suit jacket with buttonholes on the lapels, you can attach a lapel pin to this area. You don't have to randomly place the lapel pin on your suit jacket. With buttonholes present in the lapels, you can place the lapel pin here.

Lapel pins are available in a wide range of materials, some of which include the following:

  • Stainless steel
  • Silver
  • Titanium
  • Zinc alloy
  • Plastic

Lapel pins are worn for decorative purposes. You can use them to accessorize a suit jacket. They are known as "lapel pins" because they are worn on the lapel. If there's a buttonhole present on the lapel, you can use it to support a lapel pin. Lapel buttonholes were originally designed for use with boutonnieres. You can still use them to support a boutonniere, but lapel buttonholes are now used to support lapel pins as well.


Buttonholes Protect Suit Jacket Lapels From Damage

Lapel buttonholes offer a convenient place for boutonnieres and lapel pins. By using them, you can rest assured knowing that you won't accidentally damage your suit jacket.

Boutonnieres and lapel pins have some type of clasping mechanism. You'll typically need to press a pin through the lapel to attach a boutonniere or lapel pin -- unless, of course, there's a buttonhole already on the lapel. A buttonhole is a hole through which you can insert the pin. You won't have to damage your suit jacket by creating a new hole. As long as there's a buttonhole already on the lapel, you can use it for a boutonniere or lapel pin.

Suit Jackets With 1 vs 2 Lapel Buttonholes

You may discover that some suit jackets have a single lapel buttonhole, whereas others have two lapel buttonholes. The number of lapel buttonholes a suit jacket has is typically dependent upon whether it's a single-breasted or double-breasted suit jacket.

Single-breasted suit jackets generally have a single lapel buttonhole. You can find this sole lapel buttonhole on the left lapel (or the observer's right lapel). Double-breasted suit jackets, in comparison, generally have two lapel buttonholes. They have a single buttonhole on the left lapel, and they have another buttonhole on the right lapel.

Suit jackets are classified as single breasted or double breasted depending on how many columns of buttons they have. Buttons are found on the front of suit jackets. Single-breasted suit jackets have a single column of buttons, whereas double-breasted suit jackets have two columns of buttons.

Regarding lapel buttonholes, single-breasted suit jackets also have a single lapel buttonhole, whereas double-breasted suit jackets have two lapel buttonholes. The lapel buttonholes are used for the same purpose of supporting a boutonniere or lapel pin, but only double-breasted suit jackets have a buttonhole on each of their two lapels. 

In Conclusion

The lapels may sound like an unconventional place for buttonholes. After all, suit jackets don't have buttons on the lapels. Whether single or double breasted, they typically only have buttons on the front. Nonetheless, lapel buttonholes are designed to support boutonnieres and lapel pins. You can place a boutonniere or lapel pin through a lapel buttonhole so that it stays in place. More importantly, using a lapel buttonhole for a boutonniere or lapel pin won't damage your suit jacket.