About Lapel Buttonholes

Of course I watched Jim Comey’s interview with George Stephanopoulos. And his interview with Stephen Colbert. And with Rachel Maddow. Didn’t you?

But I have to tell you that I was distracted during a few of the Comey interviews. I was distracted by the lapel buttonhole in his sport coat. img_1301I was astonished at how distracted that orange buttonhole in a blue sport coat distracted me. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. And when I pointed it out to my wife, she, too, was astonished.

After watching the Stephanopolous interview, I looked in the back of my closet at the two sport coats and two suits I still have but haven’t warn since I retired. Sure enough, each had a button hole on the left lapel. But none of those buttonholes was outlined in a contrasting thread like Comey’s was.

Then I started thinking generally about lapel buttonholes. What purpose does a lapel buttonhole serve? And why is there one on the left lapel and not a matching buttonhole on the right lapel?

According to my exhaustive research on lapel buttonholes, the most popular explanation is that it’s a flower holder inspired by England’s Prince Albert. After he was presented with a small bouquet from Queen Victoria on their wedding day, made the gentlemanly gesture of cutting a hole in his lapel to hold the flowers. Aw, how romantic was that?

But according to GQ Magazine, the lapel buttonhole was designed to keep hats from flying away on a windy day. These hats included an elastic string with a button on the end, which could be securely attached to lapel hole.

Another theory is that, back in the day, the buttonhole on the left lapel was paired with a button sewn to the underside of the right lapel, allowing a man to button all the way up in brisk weather.

So whether the lapel buttonhole started as a romantic gesture, or as a functional item to combat wind and cold, it remains a strange, somewhat vestigial detail of the contemporary suit and sport coat.

Weird, huh?

Written for today’s one-word prompt, “astonish.”

15 thoughts on “About Lapel Buttonholes

  1. newepicauthor April 30, 2018 / 10:05 am

    I have never used it to hold a Boutonniere and as far as protecting from strong winds, I would go with the top coat for that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. pensitivity101 April 30, 2018 / 10:32 am

    It confirms why men wear a flower in their button hole on the left compared to a woman wearing hers on the right at weddings.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Henry Chamberlain April 30, 2018 / 10:37 am

    This buttonhole makes a distinctive mark. I noted it and quickly moved on. The actual subject being discussed is just too important. I would just say it is part of a look.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango April 30, 2018 / 10:54 am

      Yes, I agree the subject matter is too important, and once I got over my astonishment at the highlighted buttonhole, I was able to focus on content.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Tracey April 30, 2018 / 1:16 pm

    Yes, I did listen to the interview and waiting on my Amazon delivery of the book. Didn’t notice the button hole, but interesting question. The same could be asked about ties, suspenders and pantyhose….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango April 30, 2018 / 1:35 pm

      Suspenders, yes. Ties and pantyhose? 🤔 Well, yeah!


  5. baddadcartoons101 April 30, 2018 / 1:35 pm

    Now tell me why it’s called a sports jacket, except for a coach, no one participating in sports wears one! Not even golfers (until they win the Masters -but only after they’ve played)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango April 30, 2018 / 2:52 pm

      I guess because wearing a sports jacket presents a sportier look than wearing a suit? Who the hell knows how these things get their names?

      Liked by 1 person

  6. cagedunn April 30, 2018 / 1:59 pm

    It once had the practical purpose of ensuring the ‘flap’ could be tied down; now, sadly, more of a statement – because where is the button to put in that hole? Often, they no longer put them in.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Karyn April 30, 2018 / 4:12 pm

    It’s a hold-over from days-gone-by, like daylight-savings-time: both the button hole and DLS should be revoked/removed/eliminated. Why do we still do it? Are we too lazy to change when change is indicated? (oh gee, that sounds a lot like the gun argument – )

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sight11 April 30, 2018 / 5:04 pm

    Interesting. So what kind of coats do you have?


  9. leigha66 May 1, 2018 / 11:43 am

    This was informative…. never knew there used to be a button for that hole.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango May 1, 2018 / 11:59 am

      I never really thought much about them before I saw Comey’s during that interview.

      Liked by 1 person

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