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In Sherlock Holmes, Benedict Cumberbatch wears a heavy charcoal overcoat with one red lapel buttonhole.
In Sherlock Holmes, Benedict Cumberbatch wears a heavy charcoal overcoat with one red lapel buttonhole.

Russell Smith

Can I wear jackets with colourful accent stitching? Add to ...

The question

I’m seeing suits and jackets with small, colourful details like red stitching around buttonholes. Would you wear a suit with a detail like that?

The answer

Yes, I certainly would. Accent stitching has long been a way to add a touch of personality to dark, plain jackets. Italian luxury designers such as Isaia often outline one buttonhole on a jacket or coat lapel with red stitching; this has been picked up, often with blue or even yellow thread, by lower-end fashion-forward houses. In Sherlock Holmes, Benedict Cumberbatch wears a heavy charcoal overcoat with one red lapel buttonhole.

You can have your own tailor add accents around buttonholes after you purchase an off-the-rack jacket. But be aware that functioning sleeve buttons, known as surgeon’s cuffs, can be a nightmare on an off-the-rack suit because they make the sleeve length almost impossible to adjust. A fake buttonhole can be unpicked and resewn; an actual hole can’t be moved.

The brightly accented buttonhole is certainly a dandy touch and I wouldn’t recommend it to someone who must appear in the most sober of courtrooms. For the rest of us, it’s a welcome bit of festive flair.

Novelist Russell Smith’s memoir, Blindsided, is available as a Kobo e-book. Have a style question? E-mail style@globeandmail.com.

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