Button Down Collar Shirts with a Suit

Discussion in 'The Haberdashery' started by The Knize, Jul 25, 2019.

    +1!! Yes indeed!! :a14::a14:
  1. Bhugo

    Bhugo Contributor

    One should not be offended by the fashion decisions of others. There are plenty of other issues to worry about. It may be their only dress shirt... Besides, most folks don’t dress up that often anymore. I’m impressed when they give it a try.
  2. The Knize

    The Knize Moderator Emeritus

    Hmm. Somehow, even though I started this thread, I have not been getting alerts of postings in it. So I fell behind. Sorry.

    First of all
    French cuffs with a button down collar are a horrifying image to me! :)

    I think my points have been essentially made. Some folks feel strongly that a button down collar shirt should never be worn with a suit. I do not know about a distinction between Oxford and other types of cloth. I suspect, but have no way of knowing, that many of the button down collar shirts one sees on prominent persons wearing suits are of Oxford cloth. I personally would opine that OCBDs with a suit are fine. (I might argue that a button down collar shirt really should be Oxford cloth, and not, say, broad cloth/end-on-end, but I am less certain on this.)

    I do agree that a button down collar shirt with a suit is more a US thing. I highly suspect it started in the Northeast and as a prep/Ivy League thing. But I do think it has been well accepted top corporate and legal circles, at least, on an unchanging basis for a long time. The fact that Sinatra took this route indicates to me that this is not and has not been limited to those circles.

    I am not talking about what is "fashionable." I am talking about what is accepted, commonplace, generally appropriate. If prominent folks are dressing this way, and to me it is indubitable that they are and have been for a long time, to me that by itself shows that this style is accepted, commonplace, generally appropriate.

    There is a big ring of truth to this to me. But I truly doubt that Bill Barr or Mueller are trying to send that signal. I think both are sending the signal of I am or I was a high government official and I dress this way because I have been around high government officials for a long career and i am dressing the way such folks do.

    By the way, I hardly ever wear a button down collar shirt with a tie. I wear a tie to work every day and I almost always wear a straight collar shirt. I personally do not like the way a button down collar looks with a tie as much as I like a straight collar with a tie!
  3. A button down collar shirt is acceptable with a suit. However a pointed collar or English spread collar is a much more dressy look. A button down collar shirt is never to be worn with anything double breasted for those who go with the double breasted look these days.
  4. I miss double breasted suits...
  5. Toothpick

    Toothpick Moderator

    This is all confusing to me. I always thought a button down shirt was a shirt with buttons that you could fasten the collar to. A button up was any shirt that buttoned up the front. But a button down shirt specifically had buttons that allowed you to...button down the collar. Thus my understanding is that you should wear a button down with suits. And if you’re going to wear a button up with a suit you don’t wear a tie. Or you just don’t wear it with a suit but rather a sport jacket and pants.

    But IDK now!
  6. You and me both, brother.
  7. The Nid Hog

    The Nid Hog Moderator Emeritus

    I think that button-down collar shirts with suits have a very East Coast conservative feel to them. Someone mentioned that Mueller dresses like that, and that's the image I have. I don't really like it myself. I don't like flyaway collars, but getting a collar with stays is usually enough for me. On the other hand, button-down collared shirts are a necessary part of Southern style. Along with a blue blazer and khaki trousers (and a regimental tie), you can't go wrong. When I was in the Marines, it was like an unofficial uniform–you needed it for Sunday brunch, for receptions, for lots of other less-than-formal but more-than-casual occasions.
  8. The Knize

    The Knize Moderator Emeritus

    Well said, TNH!
  9. Look at the way Prince Charles dresses. He wears mostly double breasted jackets. You still can find them here in the USA but they are becoming increasingly more difficult to come by. I think it’s a very dressy look though.
  10. Yes, I see them a little in second hand stores, I should buy the next one I like, as you know it will be "the next big thing" lol. I always got compliments when I wore one, but to be honest, that was 30 years ago!
  11. The Knize

    The Knize Moderator Emeritus

    I'll throw out another small point. I think OCBD shirts are the best ones if one is going to go for the unbuttoned top button with loosened tie, no jacket, and rolled-up sleeve getting down to work look. :) Which is also sort of a preppy going out after work, pounding down some beers look!

    I like the look of a well-tailored DB look when one is standing up. I think they are hard to deal with sitting down. Also not a slimming look.
  12. Definitely not slimming. I should have mentioned that it was 30 years AND 30 lbs ago as well!
  13. Button up looks sharper and is more dressy.
    Mueller doesn't care much about his attire: black suit and white shirt every-single-time ...
    But that's what we want from people doing his job(s).
  14. The Knize

    The Knize Moderator Emeritus

    "A dress shirt, button shirt, button-front, button-front shirt, or button-up shirt is a garment with a collar and a full-length opening at the front, which is fastened using buttons or shirt studs. A button-down or button-down shirt is a dress shirt which has a button-down collar – a collar having the ends fastened to the shirt with buttons."

    Thus, all (or most, I suppose) button down collar shirts are button-up shirts. Not all button-up shirts are button down collar shirts.

    It is hard to tell from the on-line photos but it looks to me as if, for public appearances, both Barr and Mueller wear plain, never striped, suits in various shades of gray or navy. I suspect this is thought out and intentional and the thought being this is "what we want [/expect] from people doing his job(s)."
  15. People wear sweatpants in public, "commonplace" and "generally appropriate" are polar opposites most of the time. It sounds like you've already decided you don't care what people think so why did you ask?
  16. Doc4

    Doc4 Moderator Emeritus

    I suspect he cares what WE think, because he values our opinions.
  17. Chan Eil Whiskers

    Chan Eil Whiskers Contributor Ambassador

    I wear a button down shirt with a suit whenever I want to and could not care less what somebody things about it. Decades of dressing according to what I learned as a child and teenager about classic clothing seems to have worked okay for me.

    It's probably not the most formal look. Who cares? Not me.

    Ties should be knotted differently with button downs from how they're knotted with spread collars (Windsors for spreads). At least that's what I was taught.

    I was reared by a preppie father and attended all sorts of schools some of which were very preppie. I also worked (long ago and not for very long) in retail clothing sales selling clothing such as I'd worn my whole life. That may explain why what I do seems normal to me and perhaps not to some gentlemen.

    Happy shaves,

  18. Of course you can wear a button down dress shirt with a suit. What a ridiculous discussion!
  19. The Knize

    The Knize Moderator Emeritus

    What did I "ask" exactly?

    My original post was not intended to be an inquiry so much as a comment on the fact that it has been often said, on this forum and elsewhere, that it is essentially a faux pas--a misstep, an error in business-wear conventions, if you will--to wear a button-down collared shirt with a suit. Yet--again per my original post in this thread--as demonstrated by the clothing choices of two prominent government officials (or former official, in one case, I suppose), who were at the time of my first post, often in the news, including on TV, this is not so.

    I do not disagree that the subject has no small number of nuances, and I find those nuances interesting and clearly worthy of discussion.

    I care a lot about what people think--particularly, as Doc4 says, what folks on this forum think--and I also care what folks here on B&B "are told." I think it is a legitimate and valuable purpose of this Haberdashery subforum to help B&B members to make informed choices in how to dress. It is not always an easy task to figure out what one should wear. I am guessing that many B&B members come to this subforum seeking that advice or at least a broadening of their knowledge of the area to help them make these choices.

    Among other things, as Miss Manners is fond of saying in various contexts "clothing serves as a symbolic way of conveying information." I think most of us, at least those of us thoughtful enough to be B&B members, want to be careful as to what we are saying symbolically. I think it was John Malloy of Dress for Success who said that if someone dresses inappropriately, they will not be thought of as intentionally doing so--even if in fact they “know the rule" and are intentionally violating it—but will be thought of as not knowing any better. I think most folks, at least participants in B&B, strive to appear to "know what they are doing." I do not think that those wishing to convey a nonchalant/causal impression, much less those wanting to be a little provocative, would be happy to find out the impression they are actually conveying is something else entirely. (Still, I think there is something to be said for the concept that one can violate “rules” so long as one is doing so intentionally. I am not advocating zealous conformity!)

    Thus, I think blanket statements that button down collar should not be worn with a suit deserve to be discussed and, to my mind, rebutted. At the same time I recognize that there are some who would defend that blanket statement on various grounds, such as personal opinions that button down collar shirts do not look at good as other collar types with a suit or are too casual. Or, frankly more interesting to me, that some may think one is putting on the airs of a “prestigious upbringing,” perhaps more prestigious than one actually has, and among those who might resent such an upbringing (which kind of cuts against the too casual contention to me, but so be it).

    For that matter, ironically perhaps, I think the fact that lots of folks seem to think a button down collar shirt with a suit is improper, is a reason to think about whether or not to wear one. And, I certainly think that it is something to take into account that someone you are meeting with might take offense at your attire because he thinks you are putting on airs. And it appears that geographic matters may still be a factor to be aware of. So perhaps you need to be cautious Chan Eli Whiskers!

    But I also think that it is uninformed to see a photo of a top CEO or government official wearing a button down collar shirt with a suit--or Frank Sinatra--and to think “that person does not know or care how to dress, how foolish of him.”

    That is my opinion and I am sticking with it! YMMV.

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