For many of us, what we wear day-to-day is becoming more relaxed - and if you’ve traditionally been a steady dress shirt wearer, this can pose something of a challenge. At Crane Brothers we’re often asked what are some key pieces to consider building a contemporary wardrobe around, especially with this new paradigm in mind - and the button-down shirt should be one of your first ports of call.
If you’d traditionally worn a suit and have found yourself ditching the tie more often (or, indeed, forgoing it altogether) then a button-down can offer a smart shirting option that still looks the part. Conversely if you’re looking for something classic but relaxed - something to pair with jeans, knitwear and a sneaker perhaps - then the button-down is perfect for that as well. A foundational garment of Ivy League dress, since it’s formal introduction over one hundred years ago, the button-down has assumed primacy as perhaps the most versatile shirt style of all. After all, there aren’t many shirts that look just as at home with a suit as they do with shorts.
The button-down, like many of menswear’s greatest inventions, was created with function in mind - and in fact it’s not a stretch to say that it was originally a piece of sportswear. John Brooks, of Brooks Brothers fame, noticed on a visit to England that polo players were fastening their collars down to keep them from flapping about while playing, and brought the idea of buttoning them down back to the family business. This development not only created the button-down shirt as we know it but also, indirectly, the polo shirt - the sportier piquet styles one associates with the term today are derivations of the oxford-cloth button-down original.
Although the button-down design was created with a specific sporting function in mind, it’s also remarkably effective at simply keeping the collar sitting up. The style’s unique roll makes it unquestionably one of the best choices to wear without a tie - it can sit proudly under the collar of one’s jacket without sliding apart. Likewise, if you do wear a tie, a button-down with a good roll will frame one excellently. We try and follow sartorial godfather Gianni Agnelli’s peerless example with ours - a high stand, long points and an elegant curve. We’ve removed the breast pocket on ours for a more pared-back look - however we can always offer this (and many other modifications) through our made-to-measure service. But whether you opt for something with the laid-back cool of denim or a luxurious, fine white oxford cloth, you’ll find yourself with a shirt that will go with, well, just about anything.