What Is Differences Between Button-Up & Button-Down Shirts?

Understanding The Intricacies: Button-Up vs Button-Down Shirts

The world of fashion is overflowing with subtle distinctions that often get overlooked by the average person. One such often-misunderstood difference is that between button-up and button-down shirts. These two terms are regularly used interchangeably, but they actually denote two distinct types of shirts.

Defining Button-Up Shirts

A button-up shirt, as the name suggests, is quite simply, a shirt that buttons up. This term is applicable to any shirt that has buttons running down the entire length of the front, essentially covering the majority of men's dress shirts, and even many casual shirts. Despite its simplicity, the term is often incorrectly used by many.

Introducing Button-Down Shirts

Button-down shirts, on the other hand, don’t just refer to the buttons running down the front of the shirt. The term 'button-down' is used to denote shirts that have an additional pair of small buttons securing the collars to the shirt. Originally introduced by Polo players, this added functionality to prevent their collars from flapping in the wind

The Origin of the Button-Down Shirt

The button-down shirt design is credited to Brooks Brothers, the famous American apparel brand. They launched their first button-down polo shirt in 1896, modeling their design on the shirts worn by polo players in England. The designed was aimed at keeping the collar in place during these fast-paced, highly physical games.

How to Distinguish Button-Up from Button-Down

Considering the existence of these two distinct shirt styles, it's essential to know how to distinguish one from the other. To identify the type of shirt you're looking at, you must check the collar. If the collar has small buttons at the ends fastening it down to the shirt, you're looking at a button-down shirt. If the collar is free-floating, without any additional buttons, it's a standard button-up shirt.

Pairing Shirts with Jewelry

Not to be forgotten in the discussion about shirts, button-up or button-down, is the ability to complement these styles with correct jewelry. Men's fashion is undoubtedly less occupied by jewelry than women's, but the right pieces can profoundly enhance a man's dress shirt's look.

For example, cufflinks are a classy and sophisticated accessory that pairs excellently with button-up shirts. They add that extra hint of finesse, especially in formal settings.

Watches and bracelets can also be worn, but careful consideration must be given to the style and color of the shirt and cuff design. Button-down shirts, being slightly more casual, pair perfectly with a classic wristwatch for a put-together, yet relaxed look.


While seemingly minute, the difference between button-up and button-down shirts are crucial to understand to fully grasp men's fashion's intricacies. It’s about more than just buttons; it’s a symbol of style, function, and fashion history. Whether you prefer the traditional button-up or the polo-inspired button-down, knowing the difference will definitely elevate your style game, especially when coupled with the right jewelry.

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