More esoterica, I’m afraid, and maybe this time we’re getting just a bit too nerdy. In fact, it may seem like a nonsense to discuss this, but I’m going to jot down a few paragraphs on gauntlet buttons on shirts. Should you or shouldn’t you? For me, on a business shirt that you’d wear day-to-day with a lounge suit, I don’t want gauntlet buttons on my shirt sleeves.
First, what the devil are gauntlet buttons? Well, they sit between your elbow and your wrist on the bit of the shirt that is slit open. In the middle of that slit, you can have a button affixed to keep that part of your shirt from gaping open (I think this is the logic). In theory, okay, why not? In practice, though, it’s unnecessary, another bit of superfluous adornment I can do without. It’s not as bad as the lower button on a 2 button single breasted suit, but it is really something that is not required.
So, why don’t I want them on my business shirts? When I first started getting bespoke shirts made in London 20 years ago, my shirtmaker told me that gauntlet buttons weren’t really “the done thing.” And, true enough, most of the ready to wear shirts I had bought in the previous five years on Jermyn Street from the well-known houses did not have gauntlet buttons. As a result, I never opted for them on my business shirts.
Plus, how often are you in an important or sensitive situation where you are not wearing a jacket (and therefore could possibly be anxious of showing some forearm)? Moreover, the type of shirts we’re talking about are made in a such way that even without a gauntlet button, that part of the shirt will still hold its shape perfectly.
Truth be told, I’ve been wearing casual shirts for over 30 years which have gauntlet buttons. A lot of good quality, weekend shirts (eg, button-down Oxfords) come with gauntlet buttons, and in a casual situation, where you are often in shirt sleeves, the gauntlet button is fine. Leave them unbuttoned if you want for an even more casual look, or keep them fastened if you don’t. Unlike with a business shirt, though, you’re more often than not without a jacket when wearing these casual shirts. So go strong with your gauntlets!
And, if you absolutely need gauntlets on your business shirts, I was introduced by Max recently to a concept that I didn’t know existed — covered gauntlet buttons. That way, you can encage your forearms behind the gauntlet wall, but do so in anonymity. You’ll feel safe, and everybody around you will be none-the-wiser. BTWB