Why is My Last Button Hole Horizontal?

Yep, more trivialities. Maybe it’s a reponse to a stressful and decision-intensive week?

Anyhow, I own a couple shirts where the final button hole–typically tucked in below my waist–is horizontal. This is generally on my nicer shirts, like the ones with French cuffs. What gives? Ask MetaFilter to the rescue:

Why are neckline/collar buttonholes on shirts are always horizontal (as are almost all center-front buttonholes on outerwear)? Because horizontal buttonholes take horizontal stress with less deformation of the buttonhole shape and offer much less likelihood of the button pulling out from such stress than do vertical ones.

But this results in the button being pulled to the end of the hole rather than staying centered. Since a well fitted shirt shouldn’t naturally have any fitting stress across its width above the waist, the custom is to prefer vertical holes with centered buttons above the tuck-in level; they look better, especially on a vertically striped fabric. Below the belt or at the waist, where there might be more stress, you can revert to the stronger position…and demonstrate that you (the maker) are willing to take the time to shift the shirt to change the placement of the hole, further proof that your expensive shirt is worth the money.

Well, that clears things up, doesn’t it?


  1. It does clear it up! Very nice!

    Now why is the horizontal buttonhole sewn with a different color thread on about half of the shirts that have the horizontal buttonhole?

  2. Very interesting – we have been talking about this for a couple of days now…the horizontal vs. vertical but more specifically why all of my shirts and sons (he 5) shirts are sewn with a different color, both button and hole?

  3. I just came across another explanation given by esquires handbook of style: “This [horizontal last buttonhole] is because shirts used to button into the front of the trousers to prevent blousing, and even though pants no longer accomodate this, the finest shirtmakers have clung to the tradition”… Quite a different explanation, I wonder who is right!!!

  4. “…to prevent blousing…”

    DuckDuckGo to the rescue!

    Plus, what the hell is ‘Blousing’ anyway?


  5. I always thought this was done for sightless people, so they would know when they reach the last button.

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