They say the devil is in the details. At Garrison Bespoke, that saying is certainly true when it comes to custom made suits. You see, we are kind of hooked on a detail that, even if it seems useless to many, gets the nod of approval from any sartorial connoisseur: the lapel buttonhole or boutonniere (French for buttonhole).
Originally, buttonholes accommodated a button sewn to the underside of the opposite lapel which allowed men to button their jackets all the way up in cold weather. This is not the case today, and lapel buttonholes are often left off the suit. Even if they are present on a custom made suit, they are most likely not being used for their intended function.
A very iconic type of buttonhole is the Milanese buttonhole.
Also known as Asola Lucinda, this is a rare and fine work of art seen on very few suits today. It’s a differentiating element that is whipstitched. Nowadays only few tailors are able to make such impeccable buttonholes since they a challenge to properly execute on. With their clean, tight appearance, Milanese buttonholes require extra labour and a higher cost that many consider unnecessary.
The core technique is that the silk thread is wound around the gimp instead of being knotted. The winding process asks for consistent tension throughout the creation of this buttonhole, otherwise its perfect line is not straight. Any small mistake is visible since any overtightened loop will make a kink. If you happen to meet a tailor who can make a proper shiny buttonhole, do not hesitate to get it done: this staple of old school Italian tailoring is a fine detail that will not be ignored by any gentleman with a high fashion sense.
The word boutonniere is French for buttonhole and is commonly used in the UK. In North America, it’s simply called a buttonhole. Nowadays, to make use of the buttonhole, most men wear tiny flowers or interesting pins that add a bit of character to their suit. Therefore, we make sure that all of our custom made suits have a lapel buttonhole. However, we don’t recommend pinning a flower to your lapel: a pin can poke you or easily pull a thread loose in your lapel.
Ideally, the handsome accessory should be pushed through the buttonhole while the stem is held in place with the discrete loop placed on the reverse of the lapel. In order to accommodate a flower, your jacket needs a hand stitched buttonhole, a sturdy hand sewn inner lining and a silk latch sewn underneath the buttonhole. Make sure the flower is not too heavy to make the lapel look flimsy.
We consider men who wear boutonnieres to be self-confident, ready to stand out in any crowd and not afraid to swim against the current.
A boutonniere can prove to be a fantastic conversation starter (expect at least a couple of remarks!). It will show your attention to fine details and prove useful if you want to leave a romantic souvenir for your date at the end of the evening. You will certainly strike a chord there.
Formal occasions ask for red or white flowers, while informal events leave room for having fun with bold colours and designs. Yes, you can also wear a boutonniere together with a pocket square, possibly choosing them in the same shade.
If you’re in the market for a custom or bespoke suit, ask your tailor about the Milanese buttonhole and whether or not they offer this iconic tailoring element. It’s a sure way to make your suit a little more stylish and unique.