03 January 2010

The Hard Press (re-fitting a 3/2 roll)

Being a cheapskate is no game for the lazy. In order to do it to the hilt, you've got to know how to do a lot of things for yourself that non-cheapskate types readily pay someone else to do. What follows is a brief lesson .

You may remember this navy suit with white stripes, recently acquired in the infamous $30 haul of 2009:

Pressed into what I call a "hard" three button stance, that is, with the lapel "rolled" to the top button. Personally, I prefer what is known as "3/2 roll", that is, a three button jacket rolled to the middle button, or a two button stance. I suspect this suit actually was made this way. Here's why.

On the face side of the jacket, the top button is somewhat unfinished. Compare it with the lower two:

On the inside, it is fully finished, as opposed to the lower two,

I take this to mean that this top button was meant to be seen from the inside, rather than the outside. It's funny, really. A 3/2 roll is one of the hallmarks of so-called "trad" menswear. One of the other hallmarks of "trad" is its supposed separateness from fashion, yet here we have a completely superfluous detail, meant only really to be superfluous. Look at your old Brooks Brothers...that third button hasn't been intended for use in decades.
But I digress. So, how to "re-set" the appropriate button stance for this jacket? It's simple, really. All you need is a common household steam iron, an ironing board, and a little bit of know-how.
First, lay the jacket out on the board, with the lapel laying completely flat. You'll notice a crease along the line of the roll of the lapel.
Holding the iron just above the cloth, apply liberal steam, until the old crease is as completely removed as possible.
In order for the lapel to sit correctly, a slight bit of creasing is required. "Roll" the lapel back so that it sits on the middle button,
then, with the iron just above the cloth, apply liberal steam to the top of the lapel, right where it meets the jackets collar. Be sure not to press to hard near the buttons. This will insure that the lapel sits on the second button, while maintaining a soft roll, rather than a hard fold.
The finished product should look something like this.

Of course, any tailor or dry cleaner worth his chemicals will know how to do this, too. Once, I brought a J.Press navy blazer to the Lee's for cleaning. I said to Mrs. Lee something like "I know it's three button, but when you press it...", to which she interrupted something like " I know, like a two button." She sounded a pinch insulted that I should even mention it. That was the day I really knew the Lee's were running a serious shop.

It was also the day I decided I ought to know how to do this myself.

Give it a try. It's only pressing. If you mess it up, you can always bring it in and have it straightened out.


Anonymous said...

You're a clever man, Giuseppe. Definitely gonna give this one a try.

Gregorius Mercator said...

That's all well and good for that suit, but can you change a 3 button suit to a 3/2 roll simply by pressing? I vaguely recall reading somewhere that it's either impossible or you need to have a tailor alter the collar (or something to that effect).

Can you shed some light on the subject or perhaps query your tailor?

Anonymous said...

Definitely meant as a 3-button, not a 3/2...look at the way the angle of fabric's edge changes at the third button. Either that or it was modified to roll to three, but unlikely I think.

Giuseppe said...

I disagree. The angle does change, but the cut is actually below the top button. Plus, remember the difference in the facing of the button holes. I'm pretty sure it was meant to roll to a spot just between the second and third buttons, which is how I'vw pressed it.

Good eye, though.

Anonymous said...

well done, i like what you did here

J.P. said...

Any chance you could recommend a few shops around Boston to thrift at?

Anonymous said...

I'm sure the Lees know what they're doing. However, when I told my cleaner not to press the necktie, she said "I know, I know." Then the NEXT tie, where I didn't say anything...they pressed it!

Pitboss12 said...

"DIY Alteration" should be a regular segment for 2010. My girl just got a sewing machine. I gonna have to learn how to hem pants and work on shirt sleeves.

BTW, anyone know what happened to Heavy Tweed Jacket's blog?

David M. said...

check out mrs. lee droppin some skills on you

Anonymous said...

I think your button finishing explanation makes sense a lot of sense, but also agree with anonymous above that the angle/notch thing makes it seem more like a regular three button suit.
I've heard of 3-roll-2.5 jackets where the roll stops just at the top button, but that button isn't meant to be buttoned.

Of course it could just be an oddity, I've come across lots of weird stuff thrifting.

Either way, an informative post, should come in handy correcting old 3/2s that have been rolled up

you don't need to be told this but wear it however you like.

Patrick said...

Stick to the Lees, they're obviously worth their weight in gold.

Shouldn't you use a pressing cloth or something as a buffer? I thought there was a risk of winding up with a shiny section of jacket.

Nice job, in any event.

David V said...

Pants hemming is a hand sewing job. And a good skill all thrifters should learn. You've just dropped a whole $2.00 on a pair of pants. No need to drop more cash just because they're a few inches too long.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that the original crease is still clearly visible on the lapel.

Giuseppe said...


You're right about the pressing cloth. One thing I forgot to mention is that I don't let the iron touch the cloth, I just get liberal with the steam.

Mateo said...

Jpress calls the 3/2 roll "button on center" according to an interview I read once. If the coat is fused, the lapels should be pressable, but if it is canvassed, there will be pad stitching that will make it want to hold it's original fold no matter what. But the soft roll is worth a little steam either way I say.

weserei said...

Inspired by this post, I just rerolled a sport coat of mine whose lapels have been bothering me for some time. This post was very much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

A 3 roll 2 lapel is right up there with too tight and toos short suit coats. It's simply stupid.

3 roll 2.5 where the top button hole is concealed in the natural roll of the lapel is elegant. Showing the reverse side of the button hole spoils the "flow" of the lapel and,as previously stated, is just plain stupid.