Shirting 101: The Button-Down Collar

The button-down collar is a wardrobe staple and one that deserves a place in every closet. What I love about a button-down is that it lets you dress up a casual outfit or dress down more formal attire. My personal style falls somewhere on the margins of casual and dress, which most likely explains my obsession with the collar.

Consistent with many traditions in menswear, the origins of the button-down collar are rooted in function. Over a century ago when polo players needed a way to anchor unruly collars while riding, buttons were used to tether them and the button collar was born.

Style should be personal and I don’t believe in the necessity of following too many rules. Pairing this traditionally casual collar with a necktie and suiting is an on going debate. A resolution has never been reached and it really comes down to personal taste and what’s right for the occasion.

There was a time when I wore a knitted necktie with a button-down collar nearly every day. This balanced because the casual texture of the necktie went well with the casual nature of the shirt. If you decide to wear a button-down collar with a suit, I would suggest doing so on occasions when you are consciously dressing down the suit –like a summer wedding in a khaki suit or a cocktail party. Dapper old schoolers such as Frank Sinatra, and Miles Davis pulled off the necktie, button-down collar oxford, and suit combination notably well.

In our collection, we have the classics such as White and Blue Oxfords as well as patterns and stripes such as the Blue Box Check Button Down, Blue Bengal Oxford –a personal favorite, Purple McKinsey Oxford, Henderson Plaid, and the Purple Micro-Check.

Without realizing until writing this post, nearly all the shirts in my closet have a button-down collar -maybe it’s subconscious buying habits, or never knowing when I’ll be needed to sub in for a polo match.

8 comments

  • I’m a big fan. Too bad I’m not working full time and longer, I would wear Ledbury exclusively. Nice to see the cutaway collar making a return, they’re my favorite and you guys do it well.

    • Hey Craig,
      I’m always a fan of seeing the resurgence of a classic. I like our cutaway collars because it is a cutaway without being to liberal with the cut -I’ve seen some wide spreads in the past few months. After I stock up on a few more button-downs, I may go for the cutaways.

      -Brian

  • Are there any plans to make a non-fused, soft button-down collar in your collection? That was my biggest criticism of the one I tried on, unfortunately. I feel such a casual collar needs to look it. Fusing takes away from that. Just my opinion of course.

  • Jovan,
    We are pretty obsessed with our collar structures, particularly with not having them collapse. This is a great question and I understand your reasoning -casual shirt, casual collar. You may be happy to know that we are in the very very early stages of designing such a shirt but we want to take our time with this one, as with all of our new releases, to ensure that we have it just right. We are many months away from this release but I will hopefully keep you updated on this through our blog.

    -Brian

  • I work in a business casual environment and I’ll only wear button downs. Unfortunately for me, only a few of your pattern are available in button down. Ever think of expanding this selection?

    • Hey James,
      We will be releasing a handful of button down collars as part of our Short Run Shirting releases throughout the year. I can check into our button-down collar core releases for spring and summer. Thanks for the interest!

      -Brian M.

  • Same here. I only wear button down collars. Any updates on an expanded selection? Keep up the awesome work, guys.

    • Hey Patten,
      You are a man of exceptional taste. I’ve been wearing both the white and blue oxfords a lot lately. Some of my favorite shirts. Lately, we’ve been releasing several new button-down collars as part of our Short Run Collections.

      Thanks for the encouragement!
      Brian M.

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