When You May Wear a Button-Down Shirt – The Awl

“Button-down”isthemostmisusedwordinmen’sclothing。

Abutton-down,youknow,isamen’sdressor“business”shirtwhichhascollarsthatareeachsecureddowntothefrontpaneloftheshirtby…abutton!

Shocking,Iknow。

Butwehavebecomeconfusedhoweverwiththebutton-frontshirt,whichnearlyallmen’soffice-typeshirtsare,astheyhavebuttonsaswell,justdownthefront,notatthecollar-tips,andalsothepopularphrase,“button-downculture,”whichtechnicallymeansacultureofuniformity。

(AndwhenIsay“dressshirt,”Idonotmeantheshirtintendedforuseinformaleveningwear,orwhatwewouldcallblacktie?

—?

whatisalsopopularlyreferredtoasthe“tuxedo,”which,pleasedon’tsaytuxedo。

Imeanshirtsthatarenott-shirts,basically,mydudes。

)Sonowthatweareallveryclearonwhatabutton-downshirtis,wecantalkaboutwhenitisacceptableforamantowear?

it。

It’simportanttorememberthatthebutton-downwasaveryinformalshirtwhenitwasinventedaround110yearsago!

(Topeoplelikeme,whodidnothavemanyadultbusinessmenaroundmegrowingup,Ihadnosenseoftheformalityorlackofsuchinmen’sfashion,andsocontexthelps。

)Overtime,ithasbecomemoreformalthan,say,thet-shirt,whichonlyevolvedintobeingshortlybeforethebutton-down,butwasuntilrecentlyprettymuchconsidered“underwear。



Andyet,stillsomeimportanttrappingsofitsinformalityremain。

ThisismoretrueontheEasternseaboardthaninCalifornia,sotheseguidelinesskeweast。

(Asallthingsshould!

)AlthoughIdounderstandinLosAngelesthatyoumayliterallydressinanimalpeltsandlegwarmerstotheoffice,andI’vemademypeacewith?

that。

Ingeneral,ingrown-upland,therearesomeprettyfirmguidelines。

Youmaywearabutton-down…



OnFridays,with?

khakis。



Onyourownfreetime,whilstrunningerrands?

etc。



Onacasual?

date。



Withaknittieandperhapsatiebar,insortofanironicallynerdy?

way。



Underacasual?

sweater。



Whenyouwanttolooksomewhatpreppywhenoutforfun,insummer,thatkindofthing。

(Ironicallyor?

not。

)



Togouptowntogetstationeryengraved。

(Ijustsaidthattoannoyyou,really,andalsotomakesureIcouldstillspell“stationery。

”)

—Whenyouworkinaverycasualoffice,withnorealdresscode,whereperhapspeopleweart-shirtsorsweatshirtstowork,like,sayforinstanceyouworkat36Cooper?

Square。



WhenyouareDavid?

Beckham。

Youmaynotwearabutton-down…



Withasuit?

—?

almostneverever。

(Thisrulemaybebrokenabitbywomen?

That’scomplicatedthough!

Andinafewspecialtycases,thatprobablydon’tapplytoyou!

Soerronthesideofsafetyanddon’tdo?

it。

)



Coatless,inanofficewheretiesarestandardformen(andforward-thinkingwomen)。



Atajobinterview。



Toapitch?

meeting。



Toa?

wedding。



Ina?

coffin。

Questions?

Ididnotthink?

so。

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