Are You All Buttoned Up?

Practical Applications for Body Language and the Emotional Indicators of an Open Jacket

By David M. Schneer, Ph.D./CEO

4-Minute Read

“Buttoned Up” conveys the notion of someone who is reserved or perhaps a little inhibited.

But if you want to appear open, approachable, and friendly, you need to unbutton! Like this:

There’s a time and place for buttons. If it is windy, rainy, or cold, buttons can fasten a garment for extra warmth and protection. Formal events can call for a more buttoned-up look. And sometimes buttons are nothing but adornments. They just look cool.

But an open jacket can convey the following about a person:

Approachable: the person is not hiding behind their own clothes.

Informality: openness and a relaxed willingness to engage.

Self-Assurance: an air of confidence surrounds one whose jacket is open.

Chill: those with open jackets appear more relaxed.

Preparedness: This can signal that a person is ready for physical activity as their garment is not restricting their movement.

Sartorial Splendor: Sometimes an open garment is simply a fashion statement of the wearer to make them more noticeable.

Hot Weather: someone may wear their jacket open just because they are hot.

It is no accident that you will often see politicians on the stump with open jackets or sometimes no jacket at all with rolled-up sleeves. Their message? They want to be viewed as open and approachable and, of course, hard-working.

In focus groups or in-depth interviews with senior executives, I wear an open jacket and keep one eye on those who remain buttoned up! The interpretation of body language always involves context, so an open jacket can mean a variety of things depending on the situation or culture.

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