Mens Style Primer: Ties with Button Downs

by | Mar 7, 2013 | Fashion Tips, Image consulting for Men

Can I wear a Tie with a Button Down Collar?

Years ago, it wasn’t a fashion faux pas, probably because Brooks Brothers ruled men’s shirting and they sold button down’s predominantly.

Let’s define terms:

A button down shirt is otherwise known as an oxford.  It its made of cotton (or a blend) and can be a dress shirt or a sport shirt.  It can have long or short sleeves.

A button down Collar is a method of fastening the collar points to the front of the shirt by means of a button.   Button-down collars are historically sport shirts, and originated from the sport of Polo.  Collar points styles were longer then, and riders were encouraged to play with the collars of their shirts buttoned down onto their shirt so as to avoid obscuring their view during play.

When Brooks Brothers shirt makers picked this up they make it almost an icon of American Style.  However this may be, refined gentlemen know that a button-down collar is the most casual of shirt styles.  It is far better reserved for use with a sport coat, and certainly never with a suit.

Regarding a tie, a great look would be a more casual tie of (seasonally) linen, cotton or wool, as a social look.  Silk ties are too dressy.

Just open a GQ and you will see plaid shirts with skinny ties.   All good. A business silk tie should be reserved for a non-button (aka “Straight”) collar shirt.   What can slide by in the US does not work internationally – if you travel on business reserved button down collar shirts only for casual wear.

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