Button-Downs —MAV

My earliest memory of a button-down shirt comes from my Dad. Up until recently my Dad was a librarian. I actually still think of him as a librarian even though he is retired and I actually still think of him wearing a button-down shirt every day even though I know he no longer does. In my mind my Dad never sported any other type of uniform, except for the additional ornament of a sweater vest which he always wore over the button-down shirt but let’s stick with the button-down for this story. I don’t recall my Dad’s button-downs being too fancy until he got into his sixties when we started seeing more colors, plaids and even a pink stripe if I remember correctly.

These budding memories, along with an early deep, deep love for Annie Hall, have meant that I have always pretty much fallen hard for the button-down shirt. Last year I even did an entire snapshot project revolving around it. Not only do I find button-downs really beautiful and the ultimate in simplicity, I also think that they say a lot about the man or woman who wears them. Some people wear vintage and vintage only; some have them starched and ironed; some take them straight from the dryer and wear them in the most baggy and wrinkly way possible. Whatever the look, I love button-down shirts.

So for today, these are some notes on how I wear button-down shirts, particularly men’s/over-sized button-downs. NOTE: I urge you to take these with a grain of salt as I am by no means a fashionista. In fact I think most people, my Mom taking her place at the top of the list, would say that most of the time I dress a bit slobby. So please, just keep that in mind…

A favorite trick with an over-sized button-down is to take a safety pin and gently gather it up in back just above the waistline. I like it for a few reasons not the least of which is that in the end it sort of looks like an old-fashioned bustle in back therefore making the look a bit more feminine. It also slims down the silhouette quite a bit and that always helps things look a touch less slouchy (not that there is anything wrong with slouchy, Mom!).

Layering is a cinch when it comes to button-downs. It hides the large shoulders of an over-sized shirt (although those seem to be in again much to my surprise) and cleans things up a bit. I like a long cardigan with a tucked or un-tucked button-down with a tank top underneath. I also like to leave the button-down sleeves long so the cuffs pop out.

Two simple techniques that I always employ are cuffing (I go up at least 3–4 times simply folding based on where the cuff ends) and tucking (slim pants accompany a tucked in larger shirt really well, I find).

And last but not least, what you will find most often on this sloppy gal, is the all and all out un-tucked, un-cuffed, oversized, wrinkly and perfect technique of just throwing it on with jeans. Sure my Dad would never wear a button-down this way but hey, I just said I got my earliest memories from him, not my style (no offense Dad; I love the sweater vest).