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Paul Galvin: Keep it buttoned up


Paul Galvin Tweed fashion . Pix Ronan Lang/Feature File

Paul Galvin Tweed fashion . Pix Ronan Lang/Feature File

Paul Galvin Tweed fashion . Pix Ronan Lang/Feature File

One, two or three? No matter how many buttons you like on your jacket, just don't put faux ones on your sleeves, says Paul Galvin

The devil is in the detail they say. Never mind them, I say. In Kerry, we say the "divil's in the detail". I'm no different.

I'm a divil for it too. I have an eye for detail in anything I do, but especially when it comes to clothes.

Buttons can add to, or subtract from, a piece of clothing so much that they're often a determining factor in whether or not I'll buy something.

If it's a jacket, then the number of buttons and especially the button colour are important. I hate it when the colour doesn't match.

I love it when I buy a new blazer and I find spare buttons on the inside tag or in a pocket. There's nothing I love more than a spot of sewing. I practically will a button to fall off so I can break out the old Singer and sew on a spare.

I can already hear the sewing aficionados among you say breaking out the Singer to sew on a button is like trying to shoot a mouse with a cannon.

A tad unnecessary, I hear you say. Dexterity is the key to the skillful sewing-on of buttons, I hear you say. That's a job for the honest- to-goodness needle and thread.

Well, my response to you all is this: no job is too big or too small for the Singer.

On a less serious note, is there a man alive who has ever replaced a missing button on a blazer with a spare from the handy pack that comes with it?

What man has ever taken a needle from the needle cushion, sought the right colour thread, took a seat by the window -- for good light, you see -- and gone to work? I doubt it.

This spring/summer sees the return of the one-button suit. Ted Baker, Zegna and Reiss all do great one-button jackets. I have some two-button suits and dabbled in the three-button trend last year, but I'm glad to see the return of the 'one-button'.

There's nothing quite as bad as an ill-fitting blazer, which three-button ones can be. Jackets hanging way below the waist, sleeves hanging down to the knuckles.

For me, a jacket should skim the waist and a sleeve should never pass the wrist. Small men in big suits is not a desirable look.

The return to one-button is a return to a simpler, smarter, more stylish way of dressing. Body shape is everything when it comes to dressing and one-button jackets suit a slimmer man. They require a certain insouciance to pull off.

Think of Alex Turner from the Arctic Monkeys. He's taken on a smarter look of late. Well-tailored blazers to just below the waistline with good trousers and a shirt is always a classic look.

Tom Ford is another man who likes a one-button jacket. Versatility is the best thing about blazers. You can dress them up for a formal occasion like a tuxedo for a black-tie event, or down for a night on the town with the lads.

I always associate two and three-button jackets with older men.

My latest purchase is a burgundy one-button, collarless blazer from Zara in Dubai. When I say collarless, it has a collar but without a downturn until the lapels. It contains some elastane, which is unusual.

A little pet peeve I have with buttoning is when it's on the sleeve. I don't like button detail on my sleeves. They're usually faux buttons anyway, so what's the point?

Of course, buttons on a designer jacket aren't to be messed with. Keep those spares for sure -- often valuable and intricately designed.

Double-breasted jackets took me somewhat by surprise. Simple one-buttoned tailored jackets are my staple, be it formally or casually, but I do quite like the fitted look of a double-breasted jacket. In winter only, I might add.

If you can't decide between single or double-breasted jackets, why not try one-and-a-half-breasted? You can, you know. Brunello Cucinelli says so.

Fine Italian suits are hard to beat. Single, double or somewhere in between, one, two or three buttons, they speak of class.

Speaking of class you can always go bespoke. Tailormade. I've never had a suit made for myself. Maybe it's time to give Louis Copeland a call. One button, no sleeve buttons, silk lining, black wool.

Now you're bespoken.

Weekend Magazine