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A few days ago, I was combing ebay for a 41R Gray suit and came across a Brooks Brothers suit for a very low price. I looked carefully at the pictures and was spooked because the label under the collar seemed crooked, and there were only two buttons on the sleeves (which I, in my limited experience, have not seen before on a Brooks suit).

Then, however, I saw the below picture on the Trad Exchange. I assume everything on that exchange is authentic, so now I am curious. When did Brooks use two buttons, or on what kinds of suits?

 

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If memory serves me correctly, Brooks Brothers had been using 2 buttons on jacket sleeves at least until Marks & Spencer bought the company, which was in the late 1980s. I think this was common for all OTR suits and sports jackets (it might have been different for MTM) and I remember thinking at the time that I could always identify a BB suit/sport jacket by the 2 button look. I believe they moved to 4 buttons during the Marks & Spencer period. Certainly, by the time del Vecchio bought the company in 2001, they were using 4 buttons.
 

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Back in the day (before Marx & Sparx cast its ominous shadow across la tierra de Los Hermanos Brooks) the sleeve buttons were code to make it easier to riffle through the double-decked suit racks that lined the walls of the larger BB stores.

Two buttons on the sleeve meant that you were handling a 3-button coat, and IIRC, 3 buttons meant it was a 2btn coat, and 4 meant DB (I'm a bit hazy on that last one).

This saved the customer the trouble (and the suit the handling stress) of having to check its front to see how many buttons the coat had.

Nowadays most BB suits come with the sleeve buttons loose in a pocket, which makes length adjustments a tad easier. They normally supply 8 buttons so as to meet a 4-per-sleeve standard, but if you like the 2-sleeve-buttons look, of course you can specify that and their tailors will only sew a pair on each sleeve end. (You should specify that you want some space left between the buttons, of course, since the traditional arrangement for 2btn sleeve ends is that the buttons do not "kiss" each other.)
 

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I've got a cheap Brooksease suit that has only two buttons. But I've also got some 1818s that came with enough for four on each sleeve. I always believed that the suit separates came with the two buttons, but everything else came with four.

From the looks of the pictures, even the suit separates come with buttons for four each on the sleeves.
 

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BB 1818 suits have the buttons unattached ....

primarily because the jackets are configured for working buttons (surgeons cuff). How many buttons is a personal choice, althogh some suits don't have enough room for four buttons. I have a Regent which only had room to afix three working buttons. Two years later, I could get four working buttons on a Regent db.

The photo of the BB with two buttons looks like the old sack suit which BB made a lot of.
 

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I did not know 1818 suits had that feature. Nice.
 

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Back in the day (before Marx & Sparx cast its ominous shadow across la tierra de Los Hermanos Brooks) the sleeve buttons were code to make it easier to riffle through the double-decked suit racks that lined the walls of the larger BB stores.

Two buttons on the sleeve meant that you were handling a 3-button coat, and IIRC, 3 buttons meant it was a 2btn coat, and 4 meant DB (I'm a bit hazy on that last one).

This saved the customer the trouble (and the suit the handling stress) of having to check its front to see how many buttons the coat had.

Nowadays most BB suits come with the sleeve buttons loose in a pocket, which makes length adjustments a tad easier. They normally supply 8 buttons so as to meet a 4-per-sleeve standard, but if you like the 2-sleeve-buttons look, of course you can specify that and their tailors will only sew a pair on each sleeve end. (You should specify that you want some space left between the buttons, of course, since the traditional arrangement for 2btn sleeve ends is that the buttons do not "kiss" each other.)
In the days before Marks & Spenser suit jackets were laid on the table and the trousers were hung. The salesmen did quite a trick pulling your size out on the pile.
 

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In the days before Marks & Spenser suit jackets were laid on the table and the trousers were hung. The salesmen did quite a trick pulling your size out on the pile.
That must have been before my time.

I started shopping at the DC and Chevy Chase BBs in the late 70s, and all the suits were hung, with coats and trousers together.

I've seen black and white photos (I think there are some in the "Generations of Style" book) of BB store interiors with 3/8ths lined suitcoats stacked on tables and turned inside out (to show the quality of the interior workmanship, I suppose) but IIRC those photos appear to be from many decades ago.

When did BB stop stacking suits on tables? I suspect the M&S buyout may have come later, but it would be interesting to know one way or the other.
 
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