It is rare that I need to wear something other than jeans, a t-shirt or sweatshirt, and tennis shoes. Fortunately, my job allows me to choose comfort over style which I will choose every single time I have the option. However, there are those occasions where for one reason or another, I must open the closet and "dress up" a bit more than I normally do. And every time I do, I have no idea why there are tiny buttons in the middle of my shirt sleeves. What's their purpose? Should I button them? Should I leave them unbuttoned? I have so many questions. Fortunately, the internet exists to provide the answers.

They Actually Have a Name

They're called "Placket Buttons." Technically, this applies to the buttons down the front of the shirt too. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a placket is "a slit in a garment (such as a skirt) often forming the closure." The purpose of a placket is to make putting the shirt on easier. Where a t-shirt or sweatshirt is made of materials that allow them to stretch as you pull them over your head and slide your arms through, dress or casual button-down shirts don't. Chances are if you were to try and slide your arms through a fully buttoned shirt while pulling it over your head, you'd end up ripping the stitches leaving a nice hole in the armpit and a shirt you can no longer wear.

Sleeve plackets work the same way. Since button-down shirts are designed to be a bit more form-fitting, the sleeves taper at the end around the wrist. Without the placket and the buttoned cuff, you likely wouldn't be able to slide your hand through the opening of the sleeve without ripping it. They also allow the sleeves to be rolled up when your going for a more stylish, yet casual look.

Should You Button It?

Several years ago, this question was asked on the message board of Ask Andy About Clothes which was founded by Southern California men's style expert, Andy Gilchrist, the author of The Encyclopedia of Men's ClothingAccording to Mr. Gilchrist, the button "should be fastened unless you have the sleeve rolled up." Apparently, not doing so and allowing your forearm skin to show is considered sloppy.

So, there you have it. If you're wearing a shirt with small buttons on the sleeve just under the cuff, button those suckers up! If you have to dress up, you might as well make sure you look good from head to toe, including your arms.

[Source: Merriam-Webster / Ask Andy About Clothes]

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