Back to Basics: No Kill’s guide to the best button-down shirts

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Disclaimer: this is not a post about how to get dressed for returning to offices post pandemic.

This is a post about how you can leverage the most essential wardrobe item: the button-down shirt. About however “basic” you may think this humble garment is, it is never boring and unstylish. Coming in an extensive range of colors, patterns, and silhouettes, this classic is guaranteed to be that staple you frequently turn to, once you know the various ways to style it.

Take a look at how the button-down shirt can give you ultimate versatility, both in terms of looks and functionality.

Crisp White

If I were to keep only one shirt in my closet, you bet it would be a crisp, white button-down. Why? It is, amazingly, suitable for every occasion imaginable. Pair it with cigarette trousers, or a good pair of jeans, and you’re ready for work. Tuck it inside a nice extravagant skirt, or that special pair of trousers that you really like but don’t know how to incorporate into an outfit, and there you have it, an Insta-worthy look for your next hangout with friends. Or you can just simply throw on a jacket that’s a little on the more self-expressive side.

Nothing can ever replace a good, streamlined white button-down.

 


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 Oversized

With the rising trend of the super fitted, multi cut-out dresses popularized by Tiktok, it seems like the role of the OG oversized button-down shirt is being taken over. It’s a little harder for you to spot any “coveted” street look that features a white, oversized blouse on Ig.

Well worry not, because just like the crisp white shirt, the oversized button-down is not any less of a wardrobe classic. A close cousin to the tailored white shirt, this shirt was inspired by the men’s shirt, with a longer shoulder line, and extra room in the back pleats. It is a well-established staple for anyone who is after the effortlessly chic look and the more relaxed, more masculine sorta look. And honestly, who isn’t?

 


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Short-sleeved

When people think of the short sleeved variant of the collared button-down shirt, most of the time it is the image of functional workwear that first permeates their mind. Like, the nurse and the waitress and other hospitality workers’ uniforms. And just like how the iconic Chanel boucle jacket was designed after the contemporary men’s utility jacket, functional wear is forever a source of inspiration for more style and more, well, functionality in fashion. Coming in bold prints, vibrant hues, and shorter sleeve length, these button-downs are perfect for the hotter weather, and their slightly tapered, softly structured look flatters almost every accompanying bottom.

 


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Shirt Jacket

Everybody knows how to do a base layer with a button-down. But in case you’re wondering, yes, your button-down shirt can totally be a light and handy utility jacket. Make sure that the fabric resembles canvas or other heavier materials, because it will sit better on top of the inside layers. Also, to make room for those layers, opt for shirts with boxier fit. Or not. Shirt jackets with a cinched waist, coupled with contrasting bold shoulders, are having their moment for a pretty good number of seasons, and you may not want to miss them.

 


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Romantic

Ruffles, poet sleeves, billowy cut, soft flowy fabric,… it doesn’t take much to turn a conventional workwear item to a romantic top that’s gonna be the center of attention. With a typically more relaxed, softer neck opening than the commonly seen collar band, these shirts are made for the summertime, while those topped with a mandarin collar elicit the on-and-off work understated chic loo. Feminine and laid-back, you can tell by their looks how comfortable they are for daily wear, and even for special occasions, with a pair of statement shoes.

 


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–Jacqueline Pham