Difference Between Button-up and Button-down Shirt (Tips)

As one fashion person put it, button-up shirts are not necessarily button-down shirts but button-down shirts are button-up shirts. Some times the different fashion terms just do not accurately describe the article of clothing you want to wear.

The only real difference between the two styles of shirts is that the button-down shirt has extra buttons on the collar. The button-up shirt has a loose collar but both are still acceptable for business attire in the west and most other countries.

To learn more about the difference between the button up and button-down shirts just keep reading our article. It has information and special tips to help you use these shirts in the best way possible.

Tip 1: For women to make a button-down shirt look better, tie it into a crop top.

Tip 2: To make these shirts look better learn to accessorize. The right sunglasses, handbags, shoes, or tie will make them pop.

Is There a Difference Between a Button-up And a button-down?


Yes, there is a difference between the two shirts but it is a very slight difference. Both dress shirts are acceptable for formal occasions as well as business employ. The only difference is that the button-down shirt has a button on each collar.

Those buttons help keep the tie in place and provide a better impression on others when worn correctly. Also, the button-up shirt is better for more casual or semi-business events and can be worn in more places if one does not want to appear very stiff and formal.

Both shirts are button-up shirts but the button-down shirt just has a little something extra to make it stand out from the button-up style.

Tip 3: For women, you can place a button-up or button-down shirt under a spaghetti strap dress and flatter your figure.

What is a Button-Down Shirt?

This style of shirt is said to get its start when polo players were being distracted by flying collars and their uniforms. They got a tailor to add the buttons so they could keep the collar sin lace and concentrate on their game. This style was called polo collar shirts.

Some people claim that these shirts should be worn without a tie and are better for casual events. But that is a matter of opinion and preference. Nothing is stopping you from accessorizing the button-down shirt with a tie.

How you wear one is up to you and your fashion sense.

Tip 4: Do not be confused between button-down shirts and polo shirts. The latter was made for tennis, not polo.

Button-Down vs Button Up

Since there is no real difference between the two shirts, the event you are attending will dictate which shirt you will wear. If you are going to a semi-formal event or a nice relaxed dinner with the boss or clients, then a button-down shirt will fill that purpose quite well.

If you need to dress up, look formal, without going black tie, then you may want to wear the button-up shirt and put on a nice tie. Other than that, the shirt you wear is up to you and your preference and how you want to look. Both look good when pressed and joined with a sports or suit coat.

Tip 5: Keep it simple. A button-down shirt paired with good looking jeans present a nice classic and clean look that should impress everyone.

When To Wear Button-Up vs Button Down


Button up shirts are probably worn the most and can be worn to many events including formal affairs as well as in the stands of your favorite sporting team. They are also good for the office especially when a tie is required.

Also, you can wear a button-up shirt to the opera, church services, the theater, and many other similar events including meeting your girlfriend’s parents. The button-down shirt can be used for more casual affairs like drinks with friends on the weekend, sporting events, sailing, or a little time at The Club.

What is a Half Button-Down Shirt Called?

This may be called a polo shirt, a T-shirt, or just simply a half button-down shirt. They are not like the regular button don shirts and have a style all their own. This style of shirt is for those who do activities where the wind is a factor like boating and where the wearer doesn’t want to appear dressed down.

They may be also called a Henley shirt but the label is up to the person who is looking for a half button-down shirt. It's a style that can generate a lot of different names just based on the look of the shirt.

Is a Button-Down Collar More Formal?

In most cases, the answer would be no. These shirts are designed to keep the collar under control and do not need a tie. Formal occasions require a tie and if you are attending one of those, you would need to go with a button-up shirt.

Although some button-down shirts are made for formal events but for the most part, these shirts are made for less than formal festivities. If you are going formal, go with a nice button-up shirt and a grand looking bow or necktie. You will blend in if you do.

Do You Button a Shirt Up or Down?


There is no specific way to button a shirt, for men or women. How you button the shirt is up to you and the way you were taught as a kid to button your shirts. Some people go up and some people start at the top and go down.

The direction you button has nothing to do with the names of the shirts and the names of the shirts have nothing to do with the direction you button them. Some people always start at the top or they miss a button or two. Do it the way it works best for you.

Do You Button up The Top Button?

For a button-down shirt, buttoning up the top button is not needed. It is a casual shirt and usually, when the top button is done up you are trying to be formal and businesslike. You can leave the top button open if you desire on this style of shirt.

On the other hand, if you are wearing a button-up shirt and tie then you should button the top button. The only exception would be is if the buttoning the top button would make the collar too tight and you have trouble breathing. You can hide the open top button with a tie.

Why Do Shirts Have Buttons on The Collar?

While giving you a nice put together look, the buttons on the collar are there to keep those collars from flapping in the breeze and distracting your concentration. Since they are more casual shirts, you end up wearing them in different situations outside of the office and home.

When that happens, you will discover, as the polo players did, the wind can really move those collars and make focusing on your purpose much more difficult. Then buttons on collars have a way of making a very nice first impression when the event is not formal. You look good and stylish in button-down shirts.

Why is The Last Button Horizontal?


There are many reasons why the last button is horizontal and you have probably heard them all. The main reason for this difference is that it helps keep the button in the buttonhole when the shirt is pulled out from your pants.

One other practical reason that has been stated is that it tells a blind person that they have come to the end of their shirt and they can tuck it in. The horizontal button also helps with protecting the shirt when horizontal stress is applied.

A funny reason is that that design is meant to simply aggravate you.

Is it OK To Wear a Tie With a Button-Down Collar?

Many people believe that the button-down shirt is more of a formal shirt that requires a tie. And they are not wrong on that score even though there are lots of people who oppose that thinking.

There is nothing wrong with wearing a tie with a button-down shirt as it presents to your clients and guests a well put together and organized look. You look better because you take great pride in the little details of appearance.

It is ultimately up to you if you want to wear a tie with a button-down shirt or not.

Can You Wear a Bowtie With a Button-Down Collar?

A clip-on bow tie would go well and be more secure with a button-down shirt than a loose collar shirt. In other words, it is going to be up to you if you wear one or not. The rules of fashion change from year to year and what might be despised one year will be praised the next.

You do what you think is best and what looks good on you. Forget what other people think for once and dress the way you like to dress. The fashion police will not take your tie or button-down shirt away from you. You can just say you are pushing the envelope or thinking outside the box.

Are Button-Down Collars Out of Style?


Not at the time of this writing they are not. Men’s fashion is more static than the in style fashion for women. The biggest change in men’s fashion came back in the 70s with the leisure suit with gold chains and you know how long that lasted.

Generally, men can get away with wearing just about anything even if it is the old fashioned zoot suit. In style does not affect men the way it does women and some men wear white after Labor day in Sept.

One reason for this rigidness is that men are under different influences than women are and the dress code rarely changes.

Is it OK To Wear a Button-Down Shirt Untucked?

This would depend on the situation. Normally, it is best to keep the button-down shirt tucked in. In the West, this is the best way to make that perfect first impression and get clients and visitors to trust you.

An untucked shirt is a sign of a messy person who may not be that organized or in control of his business or personal affairs. It sends the wrong message to others unless, like the Philippines, the shirt is designed to be worn outside of the pants.

Do You Button The Bottom Button on a Shirt?

Always unless you are wearing a suit and then the rule is you do not do up the bottom button. For all dress shirts, especially for business employment, all the buttons should be buttoned up, even the one next to the collar.

It may be uncomfortable but professionalism has its price. Leaving the top button unbuttoned is a sign of going casual and that doesn’t usually work in the office unless it is casual Friday.

Not buttoning the bottom button may be as bad as leaving your shirt untucked.

Some Final Words

Basically, there is no difference between a button-up and a button-down shirt. They are both dress shirts and look good with a suit or sports jacket. There really is no law stopping you from wearing a tie with a button-down shirt.

It may even give you a more professional look that impresses clients or customers. Wear both shirts with the accessories you want and forget what the fashion police say unless you clash in colors and design.

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