A history of the 3-roll-2 cut


May 29, 2016 by Ville Raivio

The 3-roll-2 cut is a peculiar look that has been especially favoured by American clothiers in their jackets, suits and, occasionally, coats as well. The 3/2 jacket has three buttons on the chest, but only two of these have been cut for closing. A very long time ago the top two buttons could be closed, but on modern models only the middle one is actually used. The top-most third button is decorative and usually sewn on the lapel’s lowest point. In addition, these jackets are usually pressed to roll directly to the middle button. In text-form, this explanation is, of course, a bit addled but once the reader has seen one of these jackets, he will remember. Brooks Brothers, the most influential American men’s clothier, has told more about the cut’s history based on its archives. According to BB, the eccentric design was born at the beginning of the 1900s when young university students decided to have their 3-button jackets pressed to look like 2-button versions in force. During this time, the two button jacket was the so-called greatest fashion, but the young and hungry students couldn’t afford to renew their whole wardrobe. With steam and iron, the three-buttoned was altered to close like the two-buttoned. Following the students’ example, Brooks Brothers took to using the cut in their readymade clothing — and the model spread across the country.


The 3-roll-2 jacket is as fine and dandy as the rest of the models, though I consider it less plain and less formal due to the additional buttonhole on the lapel. On the 21st century, the cut is not widely seen in the selections of European clothiers. Perhaps this is due to traditions as the 3-to-2 was born and gained fame in America, and boys merely followed the example of their fathers. In the Ivy League school of style, the cut was an essential part of most jackets and suits. The cut spread to the other side of the Atlantic on the shoulders of tourists and travellers, but for one reason or another it didn’t gain as great a following in Europe. Some Italian tailors vehemently favour the look, but big factories have not fallen for it in droves. Ultimately Brooks Brothers also chose to use the 3-roll-2 look in their legendary number one sack suit, which became one of the most sold men’s suit models in the United States. Consequently, and with a stable mind, I choose to call this cut as American as apple pie, jeans, T-shirts and free market economy.

Photographic image: Mr Lauri Hilliaho


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