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How To Wear A Button Down Shirt

Updated on August 21, 2011

If you want to know how to wear a button down shirt without looking as though you're about to enter a corperate meeting - or worse, a funeral, read on.

If, on the other hand, you do wish to look either mournful or hot to trot, you're all set.

But - many do want to know how to wear a dress shirt that gives different looks, depending on how you wear it or what you wear it with.

Normally viewed as formal attire and generally worn by men, a button down shirt can provide stylish and elegant appeal when worn with clothing other than office apparel.

Dig out your old office garb, spice it up and step out looking chic and sassy.

Knowing how to wear a button down shirt may well leave you feeling good and looking great. After all - isn't that what fashion know how is all about?

Button down shirts are a timeless classic and can be worn in a number of different ways. You can opt for the classic admin look - which is incredibly hot and sassy - but you will need to wear it with a little falir in order to avoid looking as though you're on your lunch break from the office.

Oh and this is about casual chic - not corporate geek.

First things first - choose your button down shirt:

  • it should fit and flatter - not bag, pull or burst at the seams. Be honest - not hopeful!
  • avoid button shirts with silly looking collars. If they look silly on the shirt then ...
  • white - or not? That is your choice. The rule of thumb is pick the color/s that suit you, your complexion and personality. Button down shirts come in a wide variety of colors. White is just the most commonly known
  • sleeves - should you or shouldn't you? Decide on what you're wearing the shirt for. Short sleeves are summery, cooler and more casual looking. Long sleeves can lend a dramatic edge, though there's always the ability to turn up the cuffs


  • long or short? The rule goes like this: if you're wearing a jacket, the shirt shouldn't hang lower than the jacket hem. If not, tunic length is fine

The above are the basic rules to consider when purchasing your shirt. Now let's talk about how to wear a button down shirt!

Button Down Shirt Jeans

A great look is a button down shirt and jeans. There's such a wide variety of shirts to choose from that you shouldn't struggle to find the perfect fit, color and style.

Any of the button down shirts featured to the right are perfect when combined with jeans, flat pumps or similar casual footwear and co-ordinating accessories.

The look is casual chic and easily achievable - and size is not a barrier.

If you're a plus size, choose a shirt that's a little longer - though avoid lengthening your body and shortening your legs by going too long.

Wear a a pair of heels if you need the extra inches or a slimmed down leg - though you could opt for summery wedges over stilettos and platform styles.

Add in a floaty scarf, a gorgeous tote and you're good to go.

Wear A Button Down Shirt

 You can wear a button down shirt:

  • with a vest over the top
  • open, with a matching or completely contrasting (for the really fashion snappy) rockin' it tee underneath
  • belt up. A waist cinched in with a fab belt still looks good
  • with chunky costume jewelry at the neck and wrists. Bling up a plain colored shirt - accessorize all the way

There are many ways in which to wear these popular dress shirts and you're only limited by your imgination.

They really are incredibly easy to wear and today's trends mean that they're an extremely flexible wardrobe piece.

I have one in white, though mine does come with a little flounce. I'm an undercover dandy and mine is absolutely gorgeous.

I've worn it with jeans as a rule. A pair of flats, a bag and that's it. On occasion I've worn it with a pencil skirt - which works equally as well.

Experiment. You'll be surprised how great you look!

Dress Shirt

Button Down Blouse

A button down blouse is the same as a button down shirt - pretty much.

There may well be a few more frills, a little more flourish upon the shoulders, an extra dart or two but they really are much of a muchness.

There is a little less structure though the difference is hard to spot. You can use one as the other, each style will look equally as good dressed up or down.

If you specifically want a button down shirt but have spotted what looks to be the perfect match and find that the description describes it as a blouse - buy it anyway.

Chances are only you would know the difference and the point of these shirts is the fact that they're eminently casual yet supremely stylish and elegant.

Button Down Shirt Definition

The definition of a button down shirt is as simple as this:

  • button down shirts are shirts with buttons down the front. Full collared and cuffed sleeves. Nothing too complicated, semi-tailored, unfussy, elegant.

There you have it - that's a button down shirt in a nutshell. Now you know what they are, what they look like and how to wear one - what are you waiting for?


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    • mysisters profile image

      mysisters 7 years ago

      Nice Hub. Button down shirts look great with jeans, dress pants, skirts and even sweaters or vests over them.

    • profile image

      jesslearn 7 years ago

      I love to wear mines with a cute cinch belt. I've seen that people are pairing them with corsets now and I think it's cute.

    • PMS9 profile image

      PMS9 7 years ago from India

      Nice hub, thanks for sharing your ideas.

    • frogdropping profile image

      Andria 7 years ago

      Silver hey :) I can cover a lot of ground on many subjects. I'm a versatile frog ;)

      Pollyanna - They can and do look great and yup ... layered button down shirts work wonderfully!

      dobo - you're welcome :)

    • dobo700 profile image

      dobo700 7 years ago from Australia

      Thank you for a great hub.

    • Pollyannalana profile image

      Pollyannalana 7 years ago from US

      I agree button down shirts can look very stylish if worn right, and left open or partially open over the right tank top can set them off or the jewelry too.

    • profile image

      SilverGenes 7 years ago

      Your hubs are becoming addictive. I had no idea you could cover so much ground with a shirt, but you did and you did it beautifully! Great hub!

    • frogdropping profile image

      Andria 7 years ago

      Ahhh well hello all! Good to see you and glad you enjoyed the read. Now I expect to find you're all set for wearing button down shirts ;)

    • Jemmy-T profile image

      Jemmy-T 7 years ago from Lovely Home

      Fantastic selection especially the Guess Lizel.

    • stricktlydating profile image

      StricktlyDating 7 years ago from Australia

      Great ideas!

    • profile image

      mehar 7 years ago


    • cameciob profile image

      cameciob 7 years ago

      frogdropping...I love button down shirts and i have many in my closet. Your Ideas are great and I really like the one about jewlery. I wear my button down shirts with black or khaki pants and is a little boring but i'll try to spice it up now. Your hub makes me buy more of these shirts.(I shouldn't do it unless I earn them from hubpages :)

    • siamk2 profile image

      siamk2 7 years ago

      lovely...........just lovely!!!!

    • Runway profile image

      Runway 7 years ago from New York

      cute ideas, thanks!

    • frogdropping profile image

      Andria 7 years ago

      CMHypno - lol there's always more than you know to know about fashion. I think! ;)

      lxxy - ha lol I was kinda hoping you'd say that! button down shirts rock!

    • lxxy profile image

      lxxy 7 years ago from Beneath, Between, Beyond

      Perfect gospel. ;)

    • CMHypno profile image

      CMHypno 7 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

      Never knew there was so much to know about button down shirts. Thanks for an informative hub, frogdropping

    • frogdropping profile image

      Andria 7 years ago

      Ellen you are most welcome and I thankyou, glad you enjoyed :)

      Shaz - hey and thanks :)

    • frogdropping profile image

      Andria 7 years ago

      MPG - hey there :) lol corporate geek. Have I made that up? I hope not, I was just poking gentle fun at how easily we can turn a fashion do into a fashion don't!

      Katie - I thankyou most sincerely :):)

    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 7 years ago from Great Britain

      A lovely example of some wonderful blouses. Thanks FD :)

    • EllenGraeger profile image

      EllenGraeger 7 years ago from Madrid

      Frog, this is a very amazing hub about a very useful topic. If I will have any doubt any day about my shirts (buttoned down) I will come back to it. Thank you.

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 7 years ago from I'm outta here

      I adore button down shirts, I own a least 8 white ones, button down shirts look great with anything, especially my fave demin jeans. I love Love LOVE this how to wear a button down shirt. :)

    • MPG Narratives profile image

      Marie Giunta 7 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      I did corporate geek for too long, give me a comfortable track suit any day. Although occasionally when I go to meetings I do have a couple of button downs to choose from.

    • frogdropping profile image

      Andria 7 years ago

      Hey drbj :) lol I'm not sure I'd be classed as having panache by those that know me well. I think I'm great in theory. In practice I'm very individual with how I dress! And I can do coporate geek. I have done coporate geek. I much prefer froggy chic though!

      Hello, hello how are you? :) Good to see you. Do you have a button down shirt?!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for a great selection.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      Froggy - I believe few hubbers have your sense of style and grasp of panache. I'm positively overwhelmed that you managed to write over 30 paragraphs, more or less, on this fascinating piece of unisex apparel.

      "Corporate geek," you say. I think I resemble that remark. But it's OK cause you're still my Hubbuddy.