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A Primer on Button-down Collars

An American Classic
Button-down Collar

Yet another collar to emerge from England in the late 19th Century, the button-down was the result of a DIY fix that was spotted by a legendary shirt maker and then reinvented in the United States.


At the time, there were no collars that buttoned down, and polo players in England found themselves frustrated by their shirt collars flapping in the wind and distracting them. So, some of the more enterprising players began adding their own buttons to the collar points, and when John Brooks, of Brooks Brothers, spotted the trend on a trip abroad, he knew he was onto something.

By 1896, Brooks Brothers had introduced the first button-down, “polo collar” shirts to their customers in America. Though initially introduced as a dress shirt, the style remained mostly popular with polo players, tennis players and other athletes. But by the 1950s, the style had caught on in Italy with globetrotters like Gianni Agnelli incorporating the style into his decidedly relaxed and effortless, Italian look. The style then bounced back across the Atlantic, and today it is considered an American classic, right alongside the navy blazer, boat shoes and blue jeans.

At Hugh & Crye, we have three different button-downs to choose from to ensure that you get the exact look you want.  Our standard button-down collar has a medium sized collar and goes perfectly well with or without a tie. Our small button-down collar has a shallower collar blade suggesting a more prep-inspired, collegiate look, which is great for a casual office setting or in a more relaxed situation with jeans. Our rolled button-down collar is the tallest of the three, and it has extra fabric between the collar seam and the collar point, which creates a relaxed, rolled look. It looks sharp and crisp, even without a tie.

Shop for button down collar shirts.

Examples of Button-down Collars
standard button-down collar men's dress shirt
The Standard Button-down

An all-American classic, with or without a tie. The medium-sized collar feels both modern and traditional.

Single needle stitching
The Small Button-down

A shallower collar looks slightly less formal, and suggests a certain Ivy League appeal that is extremely versatile.

Sewn interlining of a dress shirt
The Rolled Button-down

The loose curve of the collar creates a comfortably casual look, and the height adds a touch of distinguished elegance.