Is this a 3/2 Roll or a 3-Button?

This week I want to share one of the better pieces of trad info that I picked up on the internet somewhere. This tip helps you determine whether or not a jacket is a 3/2 roll or a standard 3-button jacket.

Finished Buttonhole

The devil is in the details. The details here are the buttonholes. On a lot of 3/2 roll jackets the buttonhole will be finished on the backside of the button. The reason being is that because of the roll it is the back of the buttonhole that will actually be visible. So if you look at all three buttons the top button will not be finished (or not finished as nicely) on the same side (the front) as the other two. The exception is where the buttons have been finished the same on both sides.

As you can see the back of the buttonhole is not finished as nicely

If you are ever out thrifting and find yourself facing this question give the button trick a try. My only other advice is that if it’s not rolling that it probably won’t. If you are wondering if it is an orphan suit jacket look for buttons that contrast (most suits buttons match the color of the suit) and casual details like swelled edges and patch pockets. That’s all I got. Good luck out there!

oxford cloth button down
Jerrod Swanton is a simple man interested in simple, classic, and traditional style.

6 Comments on "Is this a 3/2 Roll or a 3-Button?"

  1. Jon V DiBenedetto says:

    Interesting point about the’button hole finishing’. I hadn’t thought of that. Great jacket fabric also!

  2. Robert says:

    That’s a neat trick! Now, if only I could find these jackets in the wild in anything less than a 46. I live in, what I believe to be the Goodwill Mecca, Atlanta; however, very few sack coats are to be found in a 38. Always thought that was a fairly common jacket size. Apparently not in Goodwill-land, though.

  3. RWK says:

    Not sure if we read about this from the same source, but I remember learning this from Joe over at An Affordable Wardrobe going on 10 years ago. He featured this bit of advice in a number of postings earlier on in the blog.

  4. André Dupont says:

    Here’s what Joe said:
    “Then there’s that pesky third button hole. If you look closely at the first photo and the last photo, you can see clearly that the top button hole has been finished on the inside. This is because it was meant to be seen from that side, rolled back into the lapel. If a jackets button hole is not neatly finished on that side, then the suit wasn’t meant to hang that way and no pressing will ever really get it to look right in that stance. You might be able to soften the angle at which the lapel rolls, but you won’t get a true 3/2 out of it.”

  5. K. Lee George says:

    The information on your site is awesome for the beginner (that’s me) and I greatly appreciate it. I’d like to learn the art of “Thrifting” and ask how do I start? What places should I be looking in (neighborhoods)? How do I find the hidden gem’s? What am I to look for?

    K. Lee George

  6. Andrew says:

    I just bought, on sale at a good price, a very fine tweed jacket from J. Press, and indeed it is a 3/2 roll by this standard. J.Press really does still fly the prep/trad flag.

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