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Button Up vs. Button Down: What’s the difference?

BY Buffalo Jackson Insight
BY Amanda Uher

Revised 11/1/20

You’ve got a shirt with buttons: but is it a button-up or button-down? Is there even a difference?

Well, yes there is a difference, and although the terms are often used interchangeably, they shouldn’t be. The fact is, all button down shirts are also button up shirts. BUT not all button up shirts are button-downs. Say what? Don’t worry, the difference is actually quite simple:

Button Up vs. Button Down Shirts 

A button up shirt refers to any shirt that buttons all the way up the front. A button down shirt means any button up shirt with a collar that can be buttoned down.

So, where did the button down collars start, anyway? We can thank 19th century English polo players for this one. They needed a way to keep their collars from flapping in the wind, so they added button holes at the corners of the traditional collars and fastened them down to the shirt with buttons. With these origins, button down collars were first called “polo collars.”

Button down collars are considered a more casual button up shirt than button-ups without the fastened collar. There is a debate about whether it’s appropriate to wear a tie with a button down collar, but while it used to be a definite no-no, that’s no longer the case. Aside from the inconvenience of un-fastening the collar in order to deal with the tie, it has actually become its own kind of look. Take note though: necktie or not, if your collar can be buttoned down, it ought to be!

One thing everyone can agree on is that button up shirts are a timeless wardrobe staple for men and women alike. If you’re in the market for a new button-up, whether button-down or not, take some time to check out our wide variety of men’s button up shirts, designed for the rugged gentleman. 

Need a new leather briefcaseor messenger bag to compliment your button up or button down for a day at the office? Check out our full suite of handmade leather goods. 


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