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botton down collar--too casual?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by samnc, Oct 9, 2012.

  1. samnc

    samnc Well-Known Member

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    I recently lost alot of weight and am in the process of getting a new wardrobe, and I am trying to get a bit more stylish. I am an attorney, 34 years old, but work for a County, meaning our office is relatively casual, and I do not get to court that much. I typically wear a shirt/tie/slacks to work, no suit. Nobody at the office really dresses more formal.

    I got a whole bunch of dress shirts and slacks which FINALLY seem to fit me well. (15 neck, trim fit, 34"w, 42" jacket size). The shirts I got are not sports shirts, but are the regular dress shirts, but I decided to go a little more stylish and get some stripes and checkered shirts. I found plenty on sale at Lands End for about $18-25 a pop, so I figured I can't go wrong with those. The solid shirts have the non-button collars. Later on, I will branch off into the fancier shirts, but I want to establish servicable clothes first that don't cost me a fortune. For $18-25, I can't go wrong with Lands End shirts, right??

    This might be a dumb question, but I am curious whether there is anything wrong with wearing a dress shirt (not sports shorts) with the buttons on the collars? All the high end shirts I saw at Nordstroms had the non-buttoned collar. Am I committing a major blunder here? I have some shirts without the collar buttons.

    Also, I am trying to go a bit bold with stripes and even some checkered patterns. While I am not doing anything insane I think, they are a bit more loud than the more muted shirts I saw at say Nordstroms. Given my age and work culture, am I OK with going a bit bolder? I am careful not to have the tie clash with the shirt. Before, all I really wore were solid shirts and boring ties and boring slacks, which certainly didnt clash and looked fine and professional, but of course were boring.

    I want to venture into some checkered pants...not madras, but ones a pattern and even checkered pattern. It does not appear "loud". I am sure I can wear a solid shirt with the checkered slacks, but what about a striped or checkered shirt with those pants?

    Also, to confirm: if I am going to court or wear a suit, should I only wear the non-button collared shirts? I am assuming for something like that, I should stay away from a checkered shirt in general, right?

    Last question---I am wearing $18-25 shirts, $50 100% wool slacks (everything I buy is clearance and I think is at least serviceable quality) but I have a thing for ties, and have some $50 ties and want to get a $100 tie. Is something wrong with having a tie that costs more than a shirt and pants? Is this, for a lack of a better word, dumb?

    Actually, I have a final question about shoes...I don't like penny loafers, but I have two laced dress shoes, black and brown. What else can I do other than having black and brown? Are there any real options here?
     
  2. AlexE

    AlexE Well-Known Member

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    Since you are working for the "county", use "Nordstrom" as a reference and call your trousers "slacks", it is probably safe to assume that you live in the US of A? In this case wearing button-down collar shirts with ties is common practice and probably even common in courts. East of the Atlantic button-down collars are traditionally considered not formal enough for wear with suit and tie, but there are also people who like to wear them with tie. This being said, I do not like this look, but then who I am to decide what you should wear ;-)


    Firstly, there are different shades of brown. Then there are shoes in burgundy (common color), navy, grey. Plus for laced shoes there are different types based on the type of lacing (oxford vs. derby), broguing, etc. Have a look at some manufacturer sites, e.g.

    http://www.crockettandjones.com/
     
  3. samnc

    samnc Well-Known Member

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    thanks for the reply, yes...from USA.
     
  4. Cantabrigian

    Cantabrigian Well-Known Member

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    TLDR

    You work for the county. Buttondown is fine.
     
  5. joeverns

    joeverns Member

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    I agree op should be fine with buttondown collar.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2012
  6. VinnyMac

    VinnyMac Well-Known Member

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    That's a very long post, OP. IMO, button down collars aren't too casual. I just don't like the way that they look. They seem like the type of thing that I'd see on a kid's school uniform.
     
  7. dbhdnhdbh

    dbhdnhdbh Well-Known Member

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    Buttondown shirts certainly don't seem too casual. The louder patterned shirts might be another matter. But the answer is simple: Check out the other attorneys. How does your boss dress? How about her boss? What do the important attorneys wear in the office? In court? Your age suggests you are a long way from the most senior person around, figure out the bounds of acceptable dress from the people at the top. How do the judges dress in court? If they are white shirt only, then you should be too. Depending on local culture, you might be able to get away with being a bit more ostentatious, but not much. This is not a fashion firm. You are in what is usually considered a pretty conservative field, so conform.
     
  8. samnc

    samnc Well-Known Member

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    I think only one person in the organization dresses more formally, but he is out my chain of command. the man on top doesnt button the top button on his shirt and likes wool ties. He a
    So often wears chinos not wool slacks. My immediate boss dresses similar to me, perhaps in slightly more muted colors. but he is 60 and not 35. So I dont think I am underdressed.

    I asked some coworkers and nobody seems to have an objection with it being too loud. I noticed that other senior people wear button collars too.

    My 90 year old grandfather has a thing against white shirts, pants with a break, and non button collars...he says they look sloppy. I guess to each their own. But he is very formal and an army colonel, so I know he isnt sloppily dressed. Is my grandfathers issues generational or a style quirk?
     
  9. samnc

    samnc Well-Known Member

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    Also, about the ties I like...is it strange or a waste of money for me to buy ties that cost 2x as much as my shirts and as much as my trousers? I try to buy evreything on clearence, but I seem to gravitate to the expensive ties, while the discounted Lands End shirts seem OK to me.
     
  10. msulinski

    msulinski Well-Known Member

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    Except for the non-button collar thing, he would fit right in here.
     
  11. samnc

    samnc Well-Known Member

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    Hmmm...I thought you all had a thing here for solid white, but I must have misunderstood. He called them passe, but suggested I get cream instead....
     
  12. GucciKid

    GucciKid Well-Known Member

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    Solid white, especially in a non-button collar, is quite formal and is generally best worn with a suit (preferably a more formal suit such as a solid or stripe). In this context it is the most formal shirt, appropriate for weddings and funerals and perhaps fully suited nights out. It is certainly not passe and in some contexts is the only appropriate shirt to wear. However with today's decreased levels of formality all over the place a lot of men not in white collar jobs avoid it. I would generally avoid plain white for the level of formality you are trying to affect.

    Button collars can work in white, but only in an oxford cloth and one has to be choosy about what one pairs them with.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2012
  13. Cantabrigian

    Cantabrigian Well-Known Member

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    That's a common mistake starting out exactly because higher end ties are so cheap in the absolute.

    A decent bespoke shirt will run you 250-300. I don't think there are any ties that cost that much - at least nothing sold other than for anchoring purposes.

    Try a shirt that actually fits. Just one. I don't think you'll be able to go back.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2012
  14. Claghorn

    Claghorn Well-Known Member

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    Given that you don't wear a suit all that often, a shirt is probably more important than a tie (and I really like ties). I'd find a balance and just get Brooks Brothers all around (as opposed to Lands End shirts and Drakes ties).

    Budgetwise, LE is great, but you definitely want to toss some nicer shirts in the mix (BB again).

    (more on ties: there are some damn fine tie makers on this forum...I'd check them out before getting any ties from Nordstrom or even BB)
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2012
  15. samnc

    samnc Well-Known Member

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    Canta: Sometime in the near future, I will get a high end shirt and will report back on it.

    And, I understand what you are saying about the white shirt: if I was arguing a case before the Supreme Court, a white shirt is probably the only acceptable thing to wear. Going to work each day, especially not in a bank or a big corporate lawfirm or something of the sort, less of a need for such shirt. thanks for clearing it up.
     
  16. Cantabrigian

    Cantabrigian Well-Known Member

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    There's a lot of high-end stuff that doesn't fit that well.

    Focus on finding a shirt that fits well. It will elevate your look a lot more than anything else. If LE fits you in the shoulders, have it taken in at the waist.
     

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