Home / The most versatile collar for the Modern Man: Button-Down Collars

How do modern men dress for their lifestyle while wearing classic pieces? They break the rules. Loafers worn casually without socks? It’s the norm now for Summer style, but it was once a taboo. Button down shirts worn un-buttoned and open? Another example. A button-down collar shirt worn both with a tie and without a tie and un-tucked? It’s the latest stance of breaking a traditional fashion faux pas. A button-down collar shirt is one of the most versatile items of clothing in your closet, it can be both dressy and casual depending on your choice.


Can you imagine wearing a long sleeved polo shirt with buttons on the collar? It seems odd now, because this detail is no longer in fashion. However, button-down collar polo shirts changed the course of men’s fashion forever. In the late 1890’s, John E. Brooks of the notable Brooks Brothers was captivated by the button-downed collar look of British polo players. The buttons were purely functional at the time, a method for keeping the collar points from flapping in the wind during a match. Brooks then designed into the button-down collar concept to create the first “polo collar” shirt in America. In the 1930’s the collar style became popular amongst athletes, and especially tennis players. This heightened the preppy and casual persona of the button-down collar. http://www.gq.com/story/dropping-knowledge-the-button-down-collar


The persona of casual continues to this day. Apparently, there is a debate whether button-down collars can be worn with ties. Why the debate we ask? Ignore the old rules, and charge forward Batchmen. The debate should be about the shirting fabric, not the collar style. Button-down collars are paired well with any tie if the fabric of the shirt is dressier. The fabric should be a poplin or twill, and the collar edge needs to have a soft roll – not stiff. We recommend this look with a blazer instead of a full formal jacket and pants.  


Since the 1900’s the casualization of button-down collars has evolved into an array of fabric types and ways to wear. To keep your button-down collar shirt versatile, purchase a twill fabric option. This fabric can be dressed up and casual. If you aren’t a tie guy, consider a broadcloth or oxford button-down collar shirt. These fabrications can be worn with chinos, dark denim, and even un-tucked on Friday’s. We recommend leaving the first collar button un-done to add a bit of style to your look.


If you’re feeling bold enough, you can even leave the collar points un-buttoned to really bunk tradition and make a statement.  Business Insider refers to this look as “artfully casual and carefree.” (http://www.businessinsider.com/why-you-should-always-button-your-collar-buttons-2015-7) If this does become your approach when wearing a button-down collar shirt we suggest your entire outfit is well styled; rather than looking as if you stumbled out of the house and forgot to button your collar down.


At Batch, button-down collars are our first line of collar defense, due to pure easiness. Every modern man needs a collection of button-down collar shirts in his closet to match his versatile lifestyle. If we don’t break menswear rules together, we’ll be stuck wearing socks all year long.


Already own a collection of button-downs? Learn more about other collar types here (insert link to our Collar Guides page)