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What exactly is: a button-down shirt?

What exactly is: a button-down shirt?

In a nutshell

A button-down shirt is any shirt with a button-down collar—unless you’re an American, in which case it describes any shirt with buttons down the front.


In 1896, American John E. Brooks (of the Brooks Brothers tailoring empire) attended a polo game while on a trip to England. To prevent their collars flapping up in the heat of a chukka, players had cunningly sewed buttons on to fasten them down on the field of play. Inspired, Brooks took the idea home, mass-produced it, and the rest is history.

How to wear them well

"Button-down shirts are great with jumpers because the collar stays in place," says Thread stylist Kasia Katner. "They're usually Oxfords, so they work well with jeans and chinos. As a general rule, they're more casual than shirts whose collars don't button down, so they don't usually look great with ties."