Button-Up Vs. Button-Down Shirts

by Jennifer Blair ; Updated September 28, 2017

Woman buttoning up her shirt.

Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Blend Images/Getty Images

Men's collared shirts seem pretty simple -- you hear "button-down" and think of the classic dress shirt complements a suit and tie. But there's actually two different types of men's shirts with buttons: the button-up and the button-down. The button-down is the more informal of the two, so you can't wear it interchangeably with a button-up shirt. Understand the differences so you're always wearing the right style -- no matter what the occasion.

All About the Collar

Both button-down and button-up shirts feature a series of buttons down the front that hold the shirt closed. They typically have long sleeves with buttoned cuffs, though some short-sleeved styles are available. Button-down shirts feature a collar with small buttons at the tips to hold the collar down and are not meant to be dressy. The button-up shirt has no buttons on its collar and instead uses collar stays to keep the collar from turning up.

Dressing for the Occasion

Button-down shirts have a more casual feel and should not be worn with suits. You can pair one with a tie and khakis if you’re headed to a meeting or party with a business-casual dress code. A button-down also works well without a tie, so you can team it with jeans and dress boots for an even more relaxed look. A button-up shirt has a formal feel; wear it with a suit and tie to the office or a formal party. Because the collar easily lifts up, it’s also a good option under a crewneck sweater for more casual looks.

Photo Credits

  • Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Blend Images/Getty Images

About the Author

Based in New York City, Jennifer Blair has been covering all things home and garden since 2001. Her writing has appeared on BobVila.com, World Lifestyle, and House Logic. Blair holds a Bachelor of Arts in Writing Seminars from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.