Why the Button Fly?

As I was putting on a fairly new pair of pants today, I wondered why the clothing company had decided to use a button fly instead of a zipper fly. Three of my four newest pairs of pants have button flies on them, and while I like the pants for other reasons, I can’t stand having to button them up. What exactly do people find so compelling about button flies, anyway?

The way I see it, zippers have several advantages:

  • They are easier to use: Grab the tab and pull vs. find the slot, hold the button just right, insert the button through the slot, repeat.
  • They are quicker: They take less than a second to use, compared to five or more fumbling seconds with the button fly.
  • They are less visible: One simple flap easily covers the zipper, as opposed to a second flap that bulks up the fly area and can be seen from the right side.

Now, I suppose some may view the third bullet point as an advantage for the button fly, but I’m guessing most are with me on that one.

So why would anyone prefer button flies? Do they last longer? Are they less likely to come undone? Are they part of a larger trend toward 19th-century style?

Can somebody enlighten me on this one? If anyone out there prefers the button fly, please post a comment explaining your rationale.

This entry was posted in miscellany. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

69 Responses to Why the Button Fly?

  1. nick says:

    Button flies = worst idea EVER.

  2. Sandon says:

    Born in the early sixties, I’ve seen fashion change, and change again. The button fly jean, however, has been around, as Spencer points out, since the 1800s, and button openings, on western clothing, since the middle ages. Buttons have been used by civilizations around the globe for the last 5000 years. The little button has quite a bit of staying power.

    As to jeans, having worn both styles for over four decades: button fly is the way to go. If you’re worried about speed, on a well worn pair of jeans, simply undo the top button and pull outwards. The entire fly pops open, top to bottom, faster than the quickest zipper. When closing, contrary to Herman’s assertion, zipper teeth can easily pinch your privates thru undies, and even the ladies aren’t entirely safe from those gleaming little teeth. For the environmentally conscious, button flies require less refined metal, less energy to manufacture, and less time and energy to sew into the garment. Being almost entirely clothe, button flies fold more easily when sitting or moving which provides a more comfortable fit. They open and close quietly, very important when getting out of, or back into, your pants calls for discretion. No one will ever tease you about your “zipper woody” when you wear a button fly. A truly superior arrangement, in every way.

    Wear what you wish, of course, but I will be wearing a button fly.

  3. James says:

    Buttons I growed up with. The Levi 501 till the gays got the company. I bought “Wild Ass” button jeans from Bill Bailey till he succumed to the zipper. Haveing caught my foreskin in the zipper a couple times, I really hate the zipper. Been wearing Wah and Tonto Rim trousers lately. Rock ‘n roll brother, whatever blows your skirt up. Goodby!

  4. Tahir Akram says:

    I bought a jeans recently from Levis. And it was button fly. I only bought it due to its immense fitness and BRAND. Otherwise I never ever selected button fly. So for me it was brand thing.

  5. OUch says:

    Ever get [redacted] caught in a zipper?

  6. Jay says:

    I love my button fly jeans! Diesel is my favorite, but I have several pairs from various brands (H&M, Banana Republic, Lucky). I just think they are sexier (whatever side of the fence you dance on). I find them more comfortable and I never have a problem (with speed) even when I have an urgent need to use the restroom. I think they fit and look better around the man’s section.

  7. corwalch says:

    Hey, tell me what brands you bought. I’ve been looking fro some button-fly trousers (not jeans) for ages. Thanks!

  8. Bob says:

    Ever seen 13 button Navy blue uniform trousers? Do you seriously think that you will lose any time undoing them after that fourth or fifth beer?
    Nope – the button/button hole arrangement becomes undone in a twinkle.

    • Stephen says:

      I have occasionally worn 13 button wool navy pants, they wear much better and more comfortably with long underwear, because they are big and baggy. Getting to the point, if you have to go, or when you are making out, it is simply 8 buttons on the right side, then pull the flap over to the left. The original heavy wool ones were totally it. I remember how sexy they looked on pretty women back in the day.

  9. passerby says:

    Zippers come undone. Embarassingly.

    Zippers catch your flesh and cause agony. (In the Bible there is only one case of a woman performing a circumcision… and her name was Zipporah…. coincidence?)

    If zippers get jammed, or break, or lose a tooth, you are out of luck…. you need to go home and change or risk getting arrested for indecent exposure. But with button fly jeams, if one button or button loop goes out, the jeans are still wearable…and often, repairable. There is a reason why military field pants always have buttons — they are field repairable.

    Too bad Levis quality took a nosedive after they offshored the production. Diesel and Lucky Brand have nice button fly jeans but too expensive.

  10. ali says:

    I keep catching my tops in the zipper and they all have little holes in them, so I will be looking for button fly women’s jeans in the UK

  11. JF says:

    One reason: button flies don’t bite.

  12. sunnieskye says:

    Manstuff in buttonfly jeans is the sexiest thing on earth!

    As a woman, I wear them because they are more comfortable, I love the way they look, and to reiterate a comment above, once the jeans are broken in, it’s easier than a zipper. I have both Levi’s and Lucky, and I actively search clothing stores online and IRL for them. There’s something a little less stodgy, more laid-back, about buttonfly compared to zipper.

  13. Rafael says:

    I agree 100 percent with the blogger. And there’s more: I got very disappointed when I went to a Levi’s store on sale and the only models available where the 501’s and it’s button flies. I left with hands empty.

  14. Josh says:

    I’m sorry but how clumsy do you have to be to get your skin stuck in a zip? Also, if you want to undo a button fly you have to undo the whole thing, but with a zip you can leave the top button done up, which is much better in a public toilet situation.

  15. Rapid Dod says:

    Are you kidding me. If you have to ask why flies are better, then you would not understand. Why do some bikers still use a kick start? Why do some musicians prefer a worn instrument instead of the latest greatest? Because history is cool, and the only way to reach back and touch that history is by experiencing not only the object, but the actual use of that technologically. This connects us to our past. We realize that not only is kicking start a bike nostalgic, but it helps to confirm, yea I could have done this. Button up my fly reminds me that this goes back to the gold rush. I pull up my pants one leg at a time, just like the pioneers, right up to the button fly!

  16. JayG says:

    Ok. Enough is enough. If you have trouble with your junk (I’m calling it junk because you’re clearly not taking caution or using it right) getting stuck in a zipper…WEAR SOME FRICKIN’ UNDERWEAR! What’s wrong with you people. Commando was a bad movie and the fashion movement of the same name suffers the same fate! Freakin’ weirdos. Next time let the zipper take it off.

  17. eeeeeagle says:

    Female here. Button flies are sexy. Just sayin’.

    Yes, yes, I know this post is months old, but my comment is still relevant.