Up Close: Link-Front Coats

David Reeves Bespoke

A link-front coat or jacket is one that is closed by two connected buttons similar to a cufflink.

The original version appears to be early morning coats that used a stand-alone pair of linked buttons which were inserted into buttonholes on either side of the coat’s front.  Over time it became more common for the buttons to be integrated into the jacket: one button was sewn to the outside of the jacket as normal while a second with a longer shank was sewn to the inside of the jacket behind the first.  This configuration allowed the jacket to be buttoned by the usual method or by the linked method, the latter providing extra room for the inevitable post-dinner expansion of the wearer’s waistline.

Early morning coat with linked front (UK).

Early morning coat with linked front (UK).

Early dinner jackets were first worn open (and in fact were often constructed without buttons) but when they began to be worn closed in the 1910s it was often with a link button.  A 1913 Vanity Fair article describing the greater latitude allowed in dinner clothes of the time mentions a particularly ornate version of the closure: “One is not confined to the one button single breasted garment.  We shall see it with two buttons and also those which are caught with the jeweled link.”

"Minister's Gazette of Fashion" (UK), 1934

Minister’s Gazette of Fashion (UK), 1934

Future British Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden  with Rita Hayworth in 1947.

Future British Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden (with Rita Hayworth) in 1947.

Link-front dinner jackets pretty much disappeared from US fashion and etiquette guides by World War Two.  However, they have remained a going concern in the UK and can still be obtained from a number of high-end menswear shops today.

David Reeves Bespoke (UK)

David Reeves Bespoke (UK)

Ede & Ravenscroft (UK)

Ede & Ravenscroft (UK)

Oliver Brown (UK)

Oliver Brown (UK)

Even British rental jackets offer this Old World touch.  This one is from Moss Bros.

Old World style can even be rented in the UK, such as this model from Moss Bros.

Hugh Jackman in Louis Vitton link-front at the 2013 Golden Globes (PA Images)

Hugh Jackman in Louis Vitton link-front at the 2013 Golden Globes (PA Images)

3 Comments

  1. Farragut Jones

    I have a link-front morning coat from Ede & Ravenscroft that I wore at my wedding—using the link. Since then, I’ve realized it looks much better buttoned in the usual way (it appears to fit better) and I’d go with that if only I get the chance to wear it again.

    Reply
  2. RPC

    My dinner jacket is a link closure, and I think it looks better – more classic, and more interesting at the same time. Plus, if your jacket fits well anyway, it shouldn’t appear to affect the fit, and might even make sitting easier.

    Having said that, Anthony Eden has made a better call than anything sartorial – and he does look sharp – by getting himself photographed with Rita Hayworth. Congratulations, Mr. Eden.

    Reply
  3. Serpens Albus

    Curiously enough, when I was looking for a dinner suit of my own here in Finland, I noticed that most jackets had the link closure.

    I wear it both ways, depending on my mood at the moment.

    Reply

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