June 24th, 2011

Are the buttons on a man's coat for use or decoration?

I am wondering if the buttons on a man's jacket like tthe one pitured here www.gentlemansemporium.com/store/vict_mens_30.php were actually buttoned or are they just decorative? Any pictures I find on google show the jacket open. A male character in my story is trying to win a challenge by wearing clothes with as many buttons as possible, but the only counts if the are fuctioning buttons, not decoration.
edited to add: The story takes place in modern times. It sounds like if I say the coat or jacket is before 1870,  the buttons would be functional.