Style Notes: The Button Down Collar

This is the first installment of our Style Notes series where we explore all the different shirt collars you need to know.

The button down collar was invented for a man on a horse. The sleek casual style of the button down brought a practical elegance to polo riders, who favoured Oxford Shirts for their breathable material, but still wanted to maintain the lines of a collar. While named after the British University, button down collars has come to be emblematic of a very American approach to men’s fashion, favouring a more everyday look - even for business. As the only collar style to incorporate buttons, it also offers for the more adventurous man more room to accessorize by either sticking to the classics or playing around with texture and colour. Especially if you plan on wearing it with a jacket, keep in mind that the buttons will be front and centre for this look: they need to be clean, and high quality.

In the spirit of its casual flair, the button down needs to maintain a certain suppleness. Too heavily starched or ironed breaks not only with tradition but alters the shape and flexibility of that make it so favourable. Debate still circles whether it’s appropriate or not to wear it with a tie as button downs are not usually found on dress shirts but we say throw caution to the wind and dress it up, especially in summer when you will be reaching for cotton and other natural fibers to get you thru the heat. While it works in an office setting, always remember that it has the effect of dressing down an outfit: use accessories to add some refinery.

As with any sartorial choice, what does the button down say about you? Along with its sporting tradition, its university pedigree has meant that it has long been associated with the rigour of intellectuals. A preferred style choice of great thinkers like Arthur Miller, who as rumour has it, won over Marilyn Monroe’s heart as much through his wardrobe as he did his playwriting, the button down gives the illusion of pedigree and sophistication. Whether you’re looking to dress up or dress down, we recommend an American inspired aesthetic, like the nautically inspired Blue & White Striped Six-Fold Tie or the Black White & Red Striped Pocket Square.

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