Q and Answer

Abby writes from snowy Canada:

my boyfriend bought a vintage ralph lauren tweed suit on ebay but only the jacket fit so i took the pants and claimed them as my own… but now that i am wearing men’s flap front pants i have a question: why are there 4 different buttons and a fly? it seems overly complicated - what don’t i know about men’s pants & how they work? i realize that women’s pants often have a few different elements to the closures but this seems a bit much….

I have attached pictures, please forgive me undoing my pants for you - it’s in the pursuit of knowledge!

First of all: no need to apologize.  If being sent pictures of women undressing is the price we have to pay to be men’s style bloggers, then SO BE IT.

As to your question: they stabilize the beltline.  Pants, especially pleated ones like those, can bow and puff in strange ways when they’re pushed against by bodies less shapely than yours (ours, for example).  The three button lineup you’ve shown us ensures that the front button is part of a clean line, and not the inflection point in a weird V shape.  As for the fourth button, we don’t see it here (more pics?), but it’s presumably an extra button, conveniently sewn in so that it’s easy to find when the need for it arises.

(By the way: Abby’s boyfriend is Dave Shumka, of the very funny podcast Stop Podcasting Yourself, and as you probably already know, podcasters are very, very strong and tough.  So don’t think any impure thoughts, people.)