Sunday, September 15, 2019

Button Up or Button Down Shirt

I've always called a woman's or a man's shirt with a collar, button band and cuffed sleeves a button down shirt. Shortly after I fell in love with making shirts, I called it a button down shirt in a blog post. I was scolded in the comments for doing so.


Then I was at a loss for how to describe my shirts because the commenter was quite adamant about how I was using the wrong term...breathe...sigh. I tried not to use the term again because if it's wrong, it's wrong and I'm big enough to admit my mistakes or lack of knowledge. But quandry much?


Then I read this great article online at Marie Claire clearly stating how to determine what is the right terminology. The article also had some styling and fit tips for shirt wearers.

Okay so Imma stop right here and link to the article again - HERE.  You go and read it now. Don't worry I will be right here waiting when you get back!

Are you back?  Did you read the entire article? Cause honestly you need that information to read the rest of this post.

...waiting for the stragglers...

Are we good now?  Everyone on the same page? So let's discuss, mmkay. I love how Audrey McLoghlin, founder of Grayson and Frank & Eileen, calls shirts "button ups" but most importantly she says this...
"I call my pieces a button up because the placket buttons up,
but it doesn't infer that there is a button-down collar.
WOMEN TEND TO USE THE TERM INTERCHANGABLY,
but in the men's world, they're distinct."
(Caps are my emphasis)

It gave me a better understanding of why the words "button down" are interchangeable in both the sewing and fashion worlds for women's shirts.


The article has some great tips on fabric, fit and styling as well as an array of retailers who sell women's button ups. Since we sew, the retailers info isn't pertinent but the other sections are really helpful ~ well at least to me! Also, there are quite a few women's sewing patterns for shirts from the Big4 as well as from indie designers currently available.


Now back to my point...or better still my question.  Were you calling shirts button downs or button ups?  Did you know there was a difference?  Does it even matter to you?  Sound off in the comments, cause I'm interested in what you have to say!

A NOTE:
I know quite a few of you read my blog posts on bloglovin'. You need to know I only check bloglovin' every once in awhile. I also don't interact with any comments, questions, or observations left there. All of my attention is here on my blog...and yes there is a difference between bloglovin' and blogger.

Did you make it this far?  If so, next up on the blog are two new shirts. The weather is changing (though it was hot as hades for a couple of days last week) and I'm back in jeans, a shirt and a cardigan.

Parting Shot:


Since Meghan Markle is my favorite Princess, I wanted to include a photo of her wearing a button up white shirt from her newly released collection of workwear essentials called The Smart Set. The charity's mission is to offer dressing and coaching services to women with job interviews...see every woman needs a good white shirt!


...as always more later!




39 comments:

  1. Oh thank you for this link to the article, it happens to be very timely. I'm in the process of cutting out Vogue 8889, a men's button down shirt. It has a pattern piece for an under collar band, I've never come across this in RTW or sewing pattern shirts. And I was confused as to it's purpose, but it makes sense now. It's buttoned down to hold the necktie in place. Fancy and clever. I think I'm going to leave this feature off because the men's shirt I'm planning on making won't be worn with a tie.
    Oh, I was always referring to shirts as buttoned down regardless if they were men's or women's shirts. I know better now. Thanks for the lesson.
    O

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  2. I've always referred to shirts as "buttoned" shirts and "button down" to me meant a men's style collar where the collar points were buttoned down. But then again, for years I bought shirts from Lands' End and picked up the nomenclature from them.
    Theresa in Tucson

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    1. This is my answer almost word for word! Right down to ordering shirts for my husband online from Land's End.:-) In my case it may be an age thing too. Men's shirts with button-down collars were a fashion statement for young women for a few years.I was very small back in the day, so a slightly oversize men's shirt looked really sexy on me.

      I have noticed that younger folks, male and female, refer to any shirt with a collar and buttons as a button down shirt. So you are right in line with the younger generation Carolyn. I do like the button-up nomenclature though. it seems more clear than "button shirt" somehow.

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  3. I never really had a name for a woman's shirt with buttons, but did always think 'button down' referred to the collar on a man's or woman's collar that buttoned to keep the points on the collar sitting down nicely. That being said, it's your shirt, so you can call it what you want - I don't think there are any "button down" police out there - heaven forbid it ever comes to the day they start policing what we call the clothes we make for ourselves. Some people are just too uptight about the little things in life.

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  4. I've just always called a shirt with buttons a shirt! I assume buttons down the front unless I say t-shirt or pullover or henley or whatever. And I've always thought button-down meant a shirt with a button-down collar until recently, & I found this new usage confusing & offputting at first. But now I see button-down referring to any shirt with buttons, mens' or women's, and I think it's too late to hold the line, & not an important line to hold.

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  5. Loved this post... Personally i call them a button-up shirt, for men and women. Though some shirts do have button-down collars. Also, I don't really care what anyone calls them

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  6. I called them button-downs for years until I read, somewhere, a few years ago, that it's only a button-down if the collar buttons down. So now I call them button-up unless they are, in fact, button-down. But I prefer the sound of "button-down."

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  7. Button --- UP --- means buttons on the front placket to fasten one front side of a shirt to the other front side. Button --- DOWN --- means buttons on the collar points to button the collar point down so it doesn't flap around while hunting on horseback or on foot. (Button down collar shirts date from the 19th century and were worn by Gentlemen through whose veins pumped only Blue Blood.) Button down (collar) shirts are thus less formal than shirts with no buttons on the collar. (Back in the day, dress shirts had removable collars starched stiff as a board.) Because front placket shirts are usually buttoned top to bottom, people often (erroneously) call them button down shirts.

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    1. Oh, no, do I have to now worry at which end I start buttoning my shirts?

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  8. Well, the information and conversation on the nomenclature of shirts is great, but what I really love is seeing some of your creations again! They're very inspiring! I have three shirts in my queue and I've been thinking hard about how to get them just right, so this was very timely.

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  9. "Button front" is how we described shirts or blouses with buttons on the front since some blouses or dresses buttoned down the back of the garment. "Buttoned-down" described shirts or blouses with collar points that had button holes for buttoning the collar to the shirt front. These are the terms I was taught in the early '60s when I learned to sew my first Easter outfit.

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  10. I have six brothers. In our house, growing up fifties and sixties, they wore button down shirts, BUT, they had the two little buttons on the collars that buttoned those collars down. Other than that, I really don't give a &?XX$#. I do get particular about skills but nomenclature unless it is calling something really the wrong name, like calling cotton wool , not so much. If a term has been used by many traditionally, albeit people not from the trade, it works for me. Great post and your tops are awesome. Can I just call them tops?

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  11. THANK YOU. This is one of my many pet peeves about words. Button down shirts have buttons on the collar, anything else I call a shirt.

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  12. I call it a button-down shirt, or just "a shirt" since in my mind, all "shirts" (with the exception of T-shirts) have buttons, with a more masculine style to them. If it looks more feminine (with gathers, decorative sleeves, or other decorative touches), with or without buttons, I call it a blouse. But anyway, why did that person yell at you in the comments? It's kind of a dumb thing to get all in a tizzy about.

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  13. To me any top with a pointed collar on a band (or a cut-on pseudo band) and button fastening in the front is a shirt ... plain and simple.

    The term button down shirt always meant a shirt with small buttons on the collar points. A style more usually found on a man’s shirt.

    I found the use of the term button-down for an ordinary shirt confusing and assumed it was US usage.

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  14. I had never thought about whether they are button up or button down. Thank you for the article, I am interested in reading the whole thing through - only read to the end of the button up/down discussion.
    As Always, Love your blog!!
    Hugs, Lorrie

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  15. I actually knew this! I learned long ago, long before I started sewing and of course, pertaining to menswear.

    I just call my button up shirts, shirts. Because *I* think the term implicates collar (or at least a collar stand), sleeves with cuffs and buttons - up :-p

    Great article though!!!

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  16. Mom just called them (back in the 70s) blouses & that's all she really wore w her slacks...dad wore shirts (no ties)

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  19. I always call them button-front shirts. I prefer the term button-down but I don't really use it. I am guessing this is because I start buttoning them from the top!

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  21. I wonder if it may be a regional dialect thing. They have always been button down shirts to me ...a transplanted New Yorker. Perhaps they say button up shirt in other parts of the country? Either way, both are right and we all know, and live, what you were/are talking about. It is a fine addiction and you do button downs proud!

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  22. I call them button down shirts. The article was interesting and informative. I searched women's button down shirts, Neiman Marcus, Ralph Lauren, Nordstrom and Macy's call them Women's Button Down Shirts. I really not bothered if someone call it a button up or button down shirt.

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  23. Mori asked me this question a lot while editing reviews for the magazine and each time we googled but I never found this article which I think breaks it down so simply. I did notice that I never heard anyone call a men's shirt and button-up, though. I honestly called them button downs but never would correct anyone, I just thought it was a personal choice of words. #NowIknow

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    1. Michelle - this article just came out last week...and I stumbled upon it. Cause I don't always read the emails that land in my email box. Though this settled the question in my mind.

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  24. I have always called the shirts button down....but it was just within the past month that I read the difference. But, I will probably still call them button downs! I don't want to start listing all of the other words/phrases that are misused! I have one classic shirt pattern fitted and will have a "big shirt" pattern finalized shortly. So, if we call certain shirts "big shirts" why don't we call the more fitted and perhaps shorter "little shirt"?! Mary Jackson

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  25. I know I am dating myself, but "buttoned down" to me comes from the 1960's comedy album from Bob Newhart, ("The Buttoned-Down Mind of Bob Newhart"), a huge hit at the time. He came from the accounting world where, for CPA's in the US anyhow, the buttoned-down collar white oxford cloth shirts were part of the professional uniform. I know. My husband was a CPA and I ironed more of them than I care to remember. I call women's shirts with buttons button up shirts. I avoid buttoned down collars for myself.

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  26. I've always called them button down shirts. To be fair, however, my husband wore nothing but custom made shirts with button down collars, hence, our terminology was accurate. Your collection of shirts is very nice, and with the weather for the past week, I'm fearful that fall has hit us with a vengeance.

    I also think it was a little rude of that commenter to call you out on a relatively minor point of terminology. Oh, well, to each his/her own.

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  27. I always understood 'button down' to refer to button down collars on shirts (usually men's)and 'button up shirt' to mean a shirt that buttons up the front rather than a tshirt or a pullover shirt or a zipper front. Sort of like the argument about 'sewer' or 'sewist'. We don't say 'fishist' or 'farmist' or 'drivist'. When did this silliness start anyway?

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  28. I've always called them button downs because that is what all my men wear. I love women
    s button downs too, with the buttons holding the collar in place. It looks better on me because loose collars are often too big and flop all over. I wear my son's hand me down shirts with a tank and jeans. But honestly, who really cares what you call them? We just want to see what you've sewn!

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  29. I've always called women's shirts button front. Button down I reserved for men's shirts that have buttoned collars. I like your collection of shirts. It's hard to choose which one I like best.

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  30. I've always called them "button-down", both men's and women's styles. I don't care of that's "wrong" either! Your garments are lovely, by the way. I wish I could get into the habit of wearing dresses.

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  31. You say tomato...I say tomaaaato.....I grew up calling them button down . I'm thinking maybe its a generational thing to separate the two types of women's shirts. Whatever, as long as it fits well and looks good, I'm OK calling it what the audience prefers!

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  32. Thank you for another interesting posting. I hope that I am on your actual blog site and not the bloglovin post.
    I did know about button down because my husband only wore button down shirts in the days when engineers wore ties to work. Button down shirts kept the tie in place with 3 tiny buttons. All those requirements for dressing up went the way of the Dodo. My husband was thrilled, but he didn't give up the button down oxford cloth shirts that I ironed. Those little collar buttons were a challenge to unbutton and rebutton. I never thought about what to call a woman's shirt. I just called it a collar shirt. These days I like to sew easy so I no longer add cuffs and collars. When I see you in your stylish shirt, I remember how much I liked to wear them. Today in retirement I wear what is comfortable and can go from an informal meeting to the garden.

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    1. Ellen - you left your comment on my actual blog! Thanks for your thoughts!

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  33. Being from UK I would just call it a shirt, and a t-shirt is a t-shirt and not buttons a top, fancy woman's shirt a blouse..... language hmmm?

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  34. Too funny, I ironed for people for years... I called mens shirts... shirts; and most womens button shirts.... blouses. Oh well, as long as they are wearing something that's all I care about! Lol...

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  35. In my mind, button down shirt (or blouse) has always been the ones with buttons on the collar. Otherwise it's simply shirt or blouse. If more descriptive term is needed, I always use front, not up. Men's shirts need no such additions, as I've never seen a man's shirt with buttons down the back, that I recall.

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