Perhaps this question has popped into your head while staring blankly at your closet full of shirts...“Are there rules about what to wear a button-down collar shirt with and what to wear a non button-down collar shirt with?” A good question indeed.
Like many things, it can be partially about about personal taste and preference and we don’t believe in many hard and fast rules, as sometimes they are made to be broken. That being said, here are a few things to consider….
For most men who are dressing for standard business environments, when wearing a suit or sport coat/dress pant combo with a tie we recommend a non button-down collar. Something like a standard dress shirt with a forward point, semi-spread, or spread collar is the way to go. It primarily comes down to a matter of formality, a button-down collar is inherently more informal and when paired with a suit and tie it offers a clashing level of formality. A standard collar dress shirt will look sharp and professional and it’s the best way to complement that suit and tie of yours.
A classic button-down collar oxford or dress shirt, traditionally left to the, well, traditionalists, has made a comeback as of late with the rise of more ivy-influenced, preppy style. Since it’s more casual, wearing this type of shirt with denim, chinos, and generally more casual looks is the best way to go. The collar stands firm and frames your face in the right way plus it looks neater, especially if it’s a shirt that you’re wearing untucked. There’s nothing worse than an overly long dress shirt worn untucked with its collar flying off every which way. That’s not to say you can’t wear a tie with a button-down collar shirt in certain situations though. If you’re ready for an advanced style move, we wholeheartedly recommend trying a knit or textured cotton/wool tie with a button-down collar shirt and a chinos or denim. It’s the kind of mixing of styles that actually looks great and well thought out versus something unkempt.
As you can see, a little collar knowledge can go a long way and sometimes it’s the little things that really mean the most.