Button Up vs Button Down: What's the Difference?

Button Up vs Button Down: What's the Difference?

The devil is in the details for mens fitted dress shirts. One of the most common questions is the difference between two of the most popular shirt types.

So what is the difference between a button up vs button down shirt? The main difference between a button up and button down is that a button-up shirt refers to any shirt with buttons up the front, while a button-down shirt specifically describes a shirt with buttons that fasten the collar points to the shirt body, preventing them from flapping or curling.

This may seem insignificant but can totally impact how formal your outfit will look.

In this blog, we'll explain the differences between these two types of shirts, their history, and the best button up and button down shirts you can buy, courtesy of us at Tapered Menswear.

best button up shirts by tapered menswear


The Meaning of Button Up Shirts

Button-up shirts are a staple in any mans wardrobe and characterized by a full-length button placket with a collar. The term "button-up" simply references the act of fastening the buttons on the shirt.

But where did this start? Originating in the 19th century with the introduction of detachable collars and cuffs, button-up shirts have evolved into versatile wardrobe items over time, being available in a variety of styles, cuts and fabrics.

olive button up shirt by tapered menswear

The Meaning of Button Down Shirts

Button-down shirts are distinguished by buttons that button the collar points down onto the shirt.

Interestingly this unique collar design was first introduced in the late 19th century by British polo players who sought to prevent their collars from flapping during the game.

Where it was later adopted by mens retailers which contributed significantly to the popularization of the button-down shirt.

Common Misconceptions Regarding Button-Up and Button-Down Shirts

People often get these two confused and it is a common mistake to use the terms button-up and button-down interchangeably, these aren't the same!

Just remember that the difference between the two lies in the collar, button-downs have buttons securing the collar points, button-ups don't.

denim button down shirt by tapered menswear

Formality: Button-Up or Button-Down?

Button-up shirts are generally perceived as more formal than button-down shirts, owing to their clean, uninterrupted collar line. With their sporty origins, button-down shirts are considered more casual in comparison.

Nonetheless, how formal a shirt is considered, shouldn't be determined by its collar style; factors such as fabric, pattern, and fit also contribute to a shirt's overall formality.

A well-fitted button-down shirt in a conservative pattern can be appropriate for certain professional settings, while a casual button-up shirt in a bold print might be best reserved for places like vegas or social events.

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Button-down shirts can be dressed up by selecting a more structured fabric and pairing them with tailored trousers and a blazer.

To maintain a casual appearance, a relaxed-fit button-down shirt in a casual fabric, such as chambray or flannel, can be worn with jeans and boots.

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white and olive button up shirts by tapered menswear

Dress Shirt vs Button-Up: Spotting the Difference

While all dress shirts are button-up shirts, not all button-up shirts qualify as dress shirts. Dress shirts are typically crafted from finer fabrics and have a more formal appearance, featuring features such as French cuffs or a wing collar.

Button-up shirts, on the other hand, may possess a more relaxed fit and come in a wider variety of fabrics and patterns.

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Selecting the Right Dress Shirt or Button-Up

When selecting a shirt, the occasion, personal style, and comfort should be taken into consideration.

For formal events, it is recommended to opt for a dress shirt in a conservative colour and pattern, featuring a crisp collar and French cuffs, if desired.

For business settings, a classic button-up shirt in a solid colour or subtle pattern is a safe choice. When dressing for casual events, bolder patterns, colours, and fabrics can be explored.

light denim button down shirt by tapered menswear

Oxford Button Up vs Down: Identifying the Differences

Oxford shirts refer to those crafted from Oxford cloth, a durable and slightly textured fabric. The terms "Oxford button-up" and "Oxford button down" have the same rules as before - the collar style.

Oxford button-ups have a regular collar, while an Oxford button down shirt has buttons that button the collar to the shirt.

Oxford shirts are versatile and can be worn in both formal and casual settings, depending on the accompanying garments and accessories.

Is a Button Up Formal?

The formality of a button-up shirt depends on factors such as fabric, pattern, fit, and the overall outfit. While button-up shirts can be formal when paired with a suit or dressy separates, they can also be styled casually with jeans or chinos.

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white formal button up shirt by tapered menswear

Are Button Downs Out of Style?

Button-down shirts remain a timeless classic in men's fashion, thanks to their versatility and adaptability to various trends.

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While the popularity of button down shirts may fluctuate over time, they are far from being out of style. The key is to stay current by selecting modern cuts, patterns, and colours.

blue denim button down shirt by tapered menswear

Keeping Button-Downs Stylish

To maintain a fashionable look with button down shirts:

Opting for contemporary patterns and colours that align with current trends is suggested.

Choosing a well-fitted shirt that flatters the body shape is important.

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Experimenting with different collar styles, such as the spread or club collar, can be considered.

Pairing the button-down shirt with on-trend garments, like tapered fit jeans is recommended.

What's the difference between button up and button down?

The main difference between button-up and button-down shirts lies in the collar design. Both are versatile pieces and can be worn with a variety of outfits. At Tapered Menswear we offer the best fitting button up and button down shirt.

The Best Button Up Shirts

white casual button up shirt by tapered menswear

Tapered Fit Shirt

We design our shirts for slim and athletic men or bodybuilders who want to show off their hard work. So whether you're looking for a button up vs down we have got you covered.

Navy Tapered Fit Shirt

We’ve added in loads of great features that are perfect for men with more muscular builds, such as: 

  • Enhanced darts in the back
  • V-taper design – narrow waist, wide chest
  • 4-way stretch cotton

In short, our shirts fit close to the body but still allow for full movement. We chose our proportions carefully so you have space in the chest and arms but the right taper in the waist. 

They look great tucked and untucked and are ideal for both formal and smart-casual looks. Whether you pair them with jeans or smart trousers, you can’t go wrong with a Tapered Dress Shirt.

Check out our best seller here 

Our revolutionary cut provides a 10" drop from chest to waist.

Fully fitted in chest and shoulders whilst tapering sharply down, giving a tailored look. No more bagginess in the waist.

Enhanced Darts

Expertly tailored darts at the back, for the perfect fit.

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Stretch Cotton

Super soft, breathable and allows complete freedom of movement.

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Perfect for the office. 

With our non obtrusive logo stitched subtly on the wrist makes our TAPERED Fit Shirt ideal for formal occasions.

Tapered Fit Shirts are the true solution to your button down and button up shirt fitting problem. If you want a shirt that fits your body like it should, check out or best selling shirt here 

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