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9. April 2020

Button or Zip Flies on Your Trousers?


Bob The wardrobe builder

Carrying on with trousers (where we’ll be for another instalment or two on our musings from Mogg Towers), we’re now getting into some really esoteric details.  Let’s talk about your flies.

If you’ll allow me to return to a personal anecdote to start off (I know, again, sorry!), I’ll refer back to my piece on side-adjusters.  If you recall, I lamented the idea that suit trousers In the US almost exclusively had belt loops.  Additionally, suit trousers all had zip flies.  I grew to love button-fly trousers back home by wearing Levis 501 jeans.  For me, button fly trousers were a much smarter concept, and actually looked better.

A few years later, I moved to London and went in to a Hackett shop to buy a ready-to-wear pinstriped suit.  I found a suit I liked, and when I tried it on, the trousers on the suit had button flies!  I was blown away – what a concept!  The feature I loved in my Levis was now available in a lounge suit (and an off-the peg lounge suit at that!).  Since then, all of my bespoke and made-to-measure suits have has button flies.

In addition to being a smarter concept and looking better, I love button flies because they are somehow old school and retro — a throwback to a more elegant age when even the smallest details (like how you fastened your trousers) actually mattered.  This will sound horribly snobby and elitist, but zip flies seem common and ordinary.  If you’re going to go to the trouble of having clothing made for you, go for all of the best details.  Button flies are amongst those best details!

There is of course an argument to be made in favour of zip flies, and more than one of my friends at Mogg Towers (including our eminently stylish correspondent from Washington, DC) has made the case for having a zipper rather than buttons on trousers. One point that recurs is that a zipper is more practical than buttons. And, even though one of the Mogg gang admitted that button flies look better, practicality was again cited and was a more important consideration.

To this I say — give button flies a chance! Once you grow accustomed to them, you realise that they are not as impractical as the zip flies mafia tell you.  As I said above, button flies are a testament to an earlier, more elegant age, a simple nod to an era that has passed.  But, we can keep the old stylish ways alive — if you love traditional tailoring as we do, then opting for button-fly trousers is the type of detail that will separate your dress from the run-of-the-mill, off-the-peg masses. They might take some getting used to, but once you go down the button route, you’ll never turn back.