Style Guide: Button-Down Collars

Designers seem to have a knack of turning the simple into a complex, indecipherable, not-sure-how-to-wear ensemble. We would expect shirt collars to be simple to pick; but between spread, cutaway, club, oversized and shortened, it could all get a bit overwhelming. One type of shirt collar that has stood the test of time is the button-down collar.button down collar

Although considered an American classic, the idea of adding a button-down collar to dress shirts came to fruition during a polo game in England! John E. Brooks, of Brooks Brothers fame, saw this fastening on the shirt collars of the players, carried this “innovation” across the ocean and began to manufacture “polo collar” shirts, which quickly became hot-sellers.

Starting off on dress shirts for formal occasions only, the button-down collar soon found its way on the shirts of American athletes who liked how they didn’t “flap” and distract like other collars did. Over the years, the erstwhile ceremonial shirt got a 180-degree makeover to become a casualwear essential.

Whether you wear it to appear solemn or relaxed, be careful while selecting the buttons for this collar. They will be very visible, more so if you wear a tie and suit, so select high-quality, great-looking buttons. Ensure that they are smaller than those on the shirt front and cuffs. If you can’t be bothered with such nitty-gritty, simply choose hidden collar buttons.

Plus, always remember that the button-down collar is as informal as collars go. So, do not commit a fashion faux pas by wearing it with an elegant double-breasted suit jacket! In fact, if you wear it even without a tie on an Oxford shirt, you would be considered right on trend!

Today, the button-down collar shirt for men plays the same role as the little black dress does for ladies – it can be worn anywhere, anytime! Slip into chinos and loafers to pull off an effortlessly classy look at a family-only Sunday brunch. Or don a tie and a classy single-breasted suit jacket to exude confidence at a meeting with the powers-that-be. Whether you dress up or down – the button-down collar will be your wardrobe’s Man Friday.


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