Can I Wear a Button-Down Shirt Unbuttoned?

If there’s one multi-purpose piece of clothing inside every man’s wardrobe, it’s a button-down shirt. Some might say that it’s boring, but they are wrong and you shouldn’t hang out with them anymore. When you know how to style it and what to pair with it, it becomes anything but dull.

We’ve encountered a funny yet interesting question, and it goes (well, it is the title of this article), can we wear a button-down shirt unbuttoned? That is some kind of a tongue twister there. But kidding aside, our answer to that question is yes, you can. And this article will explain why.

What is A Button-Down Shirt?

The Oxford button-down is the ultimate smart-casual office shirt that you can dress up or down. It’s a dress shirt that’s not as dressy as its name implies.

John Brooks created it in 1896, and it became iconic. This shirt, characterized by the thicker fabric and button-down collar, is a stylish take on conventional clothing. It can be used to add casual tones to an otherwise formal outfit.

When it comes to the oxford button-down shirt, you need to look for holes near the collar tips to latch on the tiny buttons. This is the simplest indication of a button-down shirt, and this is what makes a collared shirt a button-down (not only because of the buttons of the front part).

How to Style Your Button-Down Shirt

There isn’t really a general rule on how to wear your button-down shirt, whether you keep it buttoned or unbuttoned. As long as you’re wearing the shirt on the right occasion and keeping it in style, you won’t have any problems.

Suit and Tie

For a great aesthetic, oxford cloth button-downs can be worn with a suit and tie.  You can also opt to roll the collar for a trendier look.

Blazer and Necktie

You can wear a silk or knitted necktie and throw on a navy-blue blazer to your button-down shirt for a more stylish look.

Jacket and Jeans

You can wear it with jeans, 2 buttons open, and throw a casual jacket over the top for a more relaxed look. You can also try to untuck your shirt for a more laid-back look.


As we mentioned earlier, you can always opt to wear your button-down shirts unbuttoned. To look more casual, roll up the sleeves or wear it underneath a sweater or lightly padded vest.

Things to Remember When Purchasing a Button-Down Shirt

Although you can style your button-down shirt in many ways, there are still factors to consider when buying one.

The Fit

The first thing to remember is that contrary to dress shirts, button-down shirts are meant to fit differently. You’ll want to start by searching for something with a more comfortable fit when shopping for button-downs.

Fabric Choice

Fabric choice also plays a huge part when buying a shirt. The ones worth looking at are cotton, linen, and silk. Unfortunately, most of the button-downs currently being sold are a mix of predominantly polyester-backed fabrics. Make sure to look for fabrics that are light and breathable.

Shirt’s Length

You certainly don’t want your shirts to be too short or too long. An easy way to evaluate whether it is too short is to lift your arms. Your shirt is considered too short if your midsection ends up exposed. On the other hand, a shirt is too long when it fully covers your backside and bunches up when you tuck it in, but it can be brought to a tailor and he/she can fix it right up.

Button-Down Shirt Outfit Ideas for Men

A button-down shirt, especially the white one, is a game-changer when it comes to men’s outfits and styles. Wear it for formal occasions and use it as an undershirt for a suit to weddings, meetings, and other events and gatherings. It also goes well with semi-formal events or even casually.

  • You can wear you’re your shirt with a solid-colored or plaid blazer. For a more casual look, ditch the tie and leave one to two buttons unbuttoned.
  • For a simpler outfit, partner your button-down shirt with gray or cream-colored chinos. You can work it at work or if you are attending a not-so-formal meeting or gathering. You can also wear your favorite sneakers or dress shoes as they can go with either way.
  • Now you can also level up your winter outfit with just your shirt and a peacoat. For a good contrast of colors, wear your white button-down shirt and top it off with a beige-colored peacoat. Put on your ripped-jeans and your winter boots, and you’re good to go.
  • Who says that you can’t use your button-down shirt for a street style outfit? An earth-tone sweater worn over a white button-down and paired with jeans and sneakers will make your outfit looks casual yet stylish.
  • You can actually wear your button-down shirt in any season. For your perfect summer get-up, wear your shirt, roll the sleeves, and partner it with dark navy-blue shorts. You can opt to wear your brown boat shoes and your favorite sunglasses.
  • If you want to take your fashion style a notch higher, try matching your shirt with plaid pants. Consider unbuttoning your shirt halfway for a hotter look. For the final touch, don’t forget to roll up the sleeves.
  • Nothing is more elegant than a man in black and white. For a timeless and classic style, pair your white button-down shirt with a black suit, black tie, and black dress shoes. This outfit screams elegance and sophistication.

The Bottom Line

A button-down shirt is a versatile clothing piece that every man should have. It could be worn either buttoned or unbuttoned, and you’ll look good either way. How will you wear yours? Buttoned up or open and free… the choice is yours.

READ ALSO: What Color Shirt Goes With Navy Blue Pants

Jonathan B. Delfs

I love to write about men's lifestyle and fashion. Unique tips and inspiration for daily outfits and other occasions are what we like to give you at Do you have any notes or feedback, please write to me directly: [email protected]

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