A guide to the various features of men’s button-down shirts, including collars, cuffs, and styles.

A Guide to Men's Button-Down Dress Shirts
Men’s Dress Shirts: A Guide to Button Down Shirts.

Who doesn’t love a sharply-dressed gentleman? Appreciated by royalty, used as a uniform by sportsmen, and worn by businessmen of all lifestyles, the button-down shirt is an international phenomenon in menswear. While shirts for men may all look the same, luxe fabrics and signature details make for fabulous fashion!

Collars

Spread (Turndown) Collar is a large, versatile collar spread apart in a variety of widths. It can be found on many designer men’s dress shirts. Once made popular by the British Duke of Windsor, this popular style choice is especially common in the UK.

  • Pointed Collar: A slightly more conservative style which ends at a “point” on men’s business shirts. This narrow collar style does not feature buttoned tips but is otherwise similar to the oxford.
  • Oxford (Button-Down) Collar: This style collar was first introduced by “Brooks Brothers” as a fuss-free style for polo players. Known as the original polo shirt, it remains a staple on sports shirts.
  • Mandarin-Style (Banded) Collar: A short, standup type collar with a center button or stud. Used for a contemporary black tie as well as less formal men’s shirt styles.

Cuffs

  • Button (Standard) Cuffs: This simple one- or two-button style is commonly seen on moderately dressy men’s business shirts, designer sports shirts, and flannels.
  • French Cuffs: Also called a “double cuff,” this attractive design features a foldover style which requires the use of cuff links.
  • Single Cuff: This very formal look is a one-layer cuff with no fold. Also worn with the wearer’s choice of links.

What’s the Occasion?

The color and design of the men’s dress shirt are, many times, specific to a certain occasion and/or geographic location. British formal attire, including dress shirts, is specially categorized. Among the dressiest of men’s shirts is the white tie, known as “black tie” in other regions. This dress shirt substitutes semiprecious studs for buttons, matching cuff links, and a detachable collar. White tie shirts are paneled in front, fashioned from starch-stiff white cotton or Marcella (cotton pique).

Black tie or tuxedo shirts consist of softer, always white fabrics with a pleated front or concealed button placket (aka fly front). Cuff links may be muted or stand out, depending on the wearer’s preference.

Silk Dress Shirts are a popular choice of designers, geared towards the contemporary market and a number of evening occasions. They are seen today in versatile solid black silk and a plethora of rich, deep hues such as purple. Emilio Pucci and Etro are two of several European fashion houses whose vividly printed silks are crafted into great-fitting menswear.

Casual Sport Button-Downs

  • Oxford Shirts, complete with a button-style collar, consist of heavier weaves typically seen in cotton and polyester.
  • Twill Shirts: Department stores often stock several colors of the sturdy twill weave, another moderately-priced basic.
  • Poplin Shirts are generally consistent of cotton/polyester weaves for a dressier, medium-weight design. They are also blended with silk on occasion for an elegant designer look.
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