In Defence of the Button Down

A lot of menswear is based on rules some established many decades ago, and many for very good reasons. When I first started out, I wasn't really aware of any of them, and thus, dressed the way either I saw fit, or what I saw in public and the inter-web. There were some unfortunate clothing choices. As I got more in to this crazy thing called #menswear, I learned the rules. I read Hardy Aimes and Alan Flusser, studied gentlemen like the Duke of Windsor, Cary Grant, Fred Estaire, and all the others the most popular blogs told me to, and learned things like the difference between 'Garza Grossa' and 'Garza Fina', what shoes look best with certain fabrics, and that button down shirts should NOT be worn with suits. As I keep tinkering, learning more, and more than anything, become more comfortable with my style and with myself in general, I have learned that while rules are fantastic at giving one a basis to start, one is allowed to question them. I myself have begun to question the whole no button downs with suits. I know, sacrilege.

Now, I am not saying that it is 100% correct, that it will go with every suit, and that care should just be tossed out the window. I am saying that I think with the right pairing, a suit, tie and button down shirt can look amazing together. However, the devil is in the details. The one thing to keep in mind is that the button down is inherently a more casual shirt that a spread collar or similar kin (Nerd Alert: button downs actually came from polo players affixing their collars down with buttons to keep them from flapping in their face while playing). It is the casual nature of the shirt that needs to be taken in to account when pairing it with a suit. The suit should also have a relaxed nature to it as well. I think they look fabulous with single breasted flannel suits, as well as serge's with a bit of the formality taken out of it think patch pockets or soft tailoring. The tie should also be in the same range when it comes to formality. Pairing them with knit, old school repps, and ties with a bit of textures will help pull the whole outfit together.

The disclaimer. If you do a Google search for button down with suit, many articles and links will flat out tell you NO. I get that and respect it. The pairing of a suit, repp tie and button down look is maybe a little too affected, a little too 'American Trad' for most. However, that is the real fun part of getting in to tailored clothing. You can really find what fits you best and what you find aesthetically pleasing. I have come full circle and will begin wearing the combo again...and I fully expect to get ribbed at work for it ;)

Jason Byron Reynolds


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