What Is A Button Down Shirt?

When it comes to shirts, there are a lot of different styles out there. As a result, it can be difficult to tell one shirt apart from the other. For a lot of people, they struggle to know the difference between a button down and a button-up shirt.

What Is A Button Down Shirt

Although the terms are frequently used interchangeably, there is a difference that we all need to be aware of. The collar is the most obvious method to distinguish a button-down shirt from any other type of shirt.

In this article, we are going to make everything much easier for you. We will explain what a button down shirt is, so you can know what to look out for the next time you wish to wear one.

Button Down Shirts: What Are They?

Shirts having buttons on the corners of the collar, often known as button down collars, are known as button down shirts. This is because the collar can and is usually buttoned down onto your shirt. Hence, this is where they get their name from. 

In some cases, button-down shirts with polo collars are acceptable.  These shirts can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion and can be styled similarly to the button-up shirt. Although you should make your own decision on whether you wear a tie, because there isn’t agreement on whether you ought to or not with a button down shirt. 

The goal is to keep your collar down if you’re wearing a shirt with a button-down collar. Not only are the buttons decorative, but they also prevent the collar from appearing flimsy. The button down shirt is an excellent option to bear in mind if you’re trying for a smart casual style and want to stay away from more traditional shirts.

The History Of The Button Down Shirt

Polo players in 19th-century England used button-down shirts to protect their collars from blocking their view by fastening them to their shirts. This prevented the collars from interfering with their play and retaining the sport’s elegant aspect.

By introducing the button-down shirt to his grandfather’s American retail business, Brooks Brothers, in 1896, John E. Brooks made it a formality. He stole the concept and popularized it in the American market. Even though polo players in England were already using it to quickly pin the collar onto the shirt.

Athletes loved the shirts, which were then donned for fashion and not solely for the polo sport. These shirts have then been adopted by a particular group of people and are occasionally used to suit the preppy style.

The American president John F. Kennedy and Ivy League students both wore button-down shirts frequently in the 1950s. Then they eventually gained popularity on a global scale.

Why Are There Buttons On The Collar?

The collar of a button-down shirt has buttons, as we established above. When the button down was first created, it was for English polo players who wanted to prevent their collars from flapping while riding. 

For this reason, button-down collars are viewed as sportier and much more casual.  Even today, the button-down is occasionally referred to as a “sports shirt”, yet you shouldn’t confuse it for a shirt you may work out or perform exercise in. 

Do You Wear A Tie With A Button Down Shirt?

There is no reason why a tie and a button-down shirt can’t be worn together. Keep in mind that the stiffness of the collar determines your level of dressiness when selecting ties and blazers for your button-down shirt. More casual collars are softer, like button-down oxford shirts. While, more formal attire typically has a stronger collar, like a pristine dress shirt.

Button down collars start to look out of place when you’re properly “dressed up,” such as with a more formal or conservative suit and tie. You are unlikely to encounter a man with a button-down collar wearing clothes for a black tie event.

Can You Wear A Button Down Shirt Without A Tie?

Of course, given their sporting origins, button downs appear to be more laid back. Attaching the collar buttons is what makes the collar stand up. Especially, when you leave one or two of the top buttons on your shirt undone. Giving you that sharp, well-groomed appearance.

Even if there isn’t a tie on your neck, you have the option to button your shirt all the way up. However, be aware that this usually looks better with more smart-casual attire

Do You Always Have To Button Down The Collar?

There isn’t a rule that says you have to always put the button down the collar of your button down shirt. Therefore, you may choose to keep them unbuttoned for a more casual look, even though it’s a little unconventional. 

What’s The Main Difference Between A Button Down And Button Up Shirt?

Any shirt with buttons along the length of the front is referred to as a button-up shirt. While, any button-up shirt with a collar that can buttoned down is referred to as a button-down shirt.

The most typical styles of shirts you’ll probably discover in your closet and buy for work are button-up shirts. The definition of a button-up shirt is accurate: these shirts feature buttons that reach your neck in the front. Dress shirts are sometimes known as button-ups. They are perfect for formal occasions.

While button down shirts are more suited for both casual and formal events. As we mentioned above, you can wear this shirt with and without a tie. Therefore, it is a really versatile type of shirt that everyone should have part of their closet. In addition to that, this type of shirt is suitable for both men and women, making it a timeless staple for everyone. 

How To Style A Button Down Shirt?

There are many ways in which you can style your button down shirt to work for you. Below are some of the most popular ways in which you can style your button down shirt. 


For men, there are a few ways you could choose to style this shirt. 

  • Over A T-shirt – You may have a beloved t-shirt that has experienced significant wear and tear to the point that it has little holes. Make a fashion statement by covering it with a button down shirt. To create a unique look, experiment with color combinations.
  • Roll Sleeves Up – It is more comfortable for some people to roll their sleeve’s up, and it also gives a more laid-back appearance. Roll the sleeves down to just beneath the elbow and loosen the cuffs. This provides you with a smart and relaxed look.
  • Tucked In Or Not – A button-down shirt should either be fully buttoned up or tucked in with the initial two buttons left undone. Button down shirts go great with corduroy pants or jeans, depending on the season. Again this creates a really professional look or more casual appearance. 


The button down shirts don’t have to be just for men. Women are more than capable of adding this shirt to their staple clothing collection. For women, there are a few more styling options to choose from. 

  • Tie It – An undone button-down shirt can be styled in the simplest way possible by tying it to a crop top. It can be worn over your favorite dress, high-waisted jeans or a silk slip skirt. It’s a simple attire for last-minute events.
  • Oversized – Since a button-down shirt is a rather basic wardrobe item, you can be daring with your accessories. A bright purse and some fashionable sunglasses will add a splash of color to an oversized button-down.
  • Beneath A Dress – Try layering your preferred sleeveless dress with a button-down if you enjoy wearing button-downs to work but are weary of wearing them with pants. This will give you a preppy style that is easy and appropriate for the office.
  • Keep It Simple – While there are countless ways to change up your appearance, there’s nothing wrong with wearing a basic white button-down shirt and jeans. For a touch of understated style, add some striking flats or a layered necklace, but don’t go overboard.

Final Thoughts

Everyone should have a button-down shirt in their collection because it is a timeless piece. We now know that a button-down shirt is a particular type of shirt with buttons on the collar. These buttons help to keep the collar in place. 

These shirts’ versatility in terms of styling is what makes them so timeless. They look wonderful with a tie for formal occasions, but you can also remove the tie, undo the top buttons, and combine them with jeans for a more relaxed appearance.

People frequently struggle to know the difference between a button-up and a button-down shirt. However, we hope this article has helped you to understand the difference.

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