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Collar buttons

F4iryder14

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Had a question I need some opinions on.  I have been spending roughly the last 72 hours at Dillard's getting some absolute steals on some middle of the road stuff (Murano, Perry Ellis, Claiborne) but ran into a two part question.  First part - on two of the shirts I got, just some simple plaid pattern Hilfiger button ups, they have buttons for the collars like your typical suit shirt.  Now these are not dress shirts by any means, so I was wondering if you could leave the collars unbuttoned for a more casual look (my Dad told me when I was growing up that it looks sloppy with suit shirts, so I have always carried that feeling across the board with all button collars).  Part two - another one of the shirts I got has button collars, but the holes are under the point of the collar itself with a separate piece of material.  It's basically two pieces with the top being closed (no button hole) and an extra piece sewn onto the bottom so that the collar can be buttoned.  Now I read on this forum a while ago that that design came out of the desire to make the shirt look better when the top button of the shirt is left unbuttoned (if I remember right).  Now the second shirts I mentioned are mainly just for clubbing/bars, so they would generally only be worn in a casual environment.  Just curious what the forum members thought.  All opinions would be appreciated.

Kevin
 

gregory

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Now these are not dress shirts by any means, so I was wondering if you could leave the collars unbuttoned for a more casual look.
I'm very sorry to say to say this and I do not mean to offend, but I would like to offer my honest opinion. I can't help to infer that someone who doesn't button his button-down collars is not only comitting satorial sin, but also a very sloppy individual. There are many ways to be casual, but not buttoning button-down collars is not one of those ways. I also do not particularly like "hidden" button-down shirts; to me, they are very tacky. If you want to button down your collars, get a button-down collared shirt; if not, get a spread collar with collar stays. A shirt with a soft point/spread collar cannot serve as a dress shirt, but is acceptable as a casual shirt. I'd be interested to hear what others think.
 

johnnynorman3

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I both agree and disgaree with a couple of your remarks.

First, I think that it is okay -- not the best idea, but acceptable -- to unbutton the button down collar when you (1) are wearing very casual jeans or khakis, and (2) when the shirt itself is not tucked in. This outfit will itself look sort of "intentionally sloppy" so to speak (though the less abrasive adjective for this look would be "relaxed"). Thus, it the unbuttoning sort of goes with the look.

I totally agree, however, that if you are going for a look any more formal than that, you should absolutely not unbutton the collar.

Second, I also hate hidden button downs. There cannot be a more sloppy and tacky look, and I hate Armani shirts mainly because they use the hidden button down a lot.

Third, I disagree with you about "soft point/spread collars" being unacceptable as dress shirts. I have seen many fine dress shirts without stiff, fused collars. So long as you have decent collar stays, the soft collar will obtain a sufficient stiffening from the tie underneath.
 

gregory

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Third, I disagree with you about "soft point/spread collars" being unacceptable as dress shirts.  I have seen many fine dress shirts without stiff, fused collars.  So long as you have decent collar stays, the soft collar will obtain a sufficient stiffening from the tie underneath.
Sorry I wasn't clear in my previous post. When I mentioned soft point/spread collars, I was assuming the absence of collar stays, but you are right that there are soft point/spread collared shirts WITH collar stays.
 

j

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In my opinion:

Unbuttoned collar buttons: no, unless you are able to actually pull off the intentionally sloppy thing. Ask yourself this: could you walk around in a totally unironed untucked shirt with the collar half up and half down and feel okay? If so, go for it. Bob Dylan managed it with an undone tab collar; I don't know if I could.

Hidden button down collars: no. They suck. I have an otherwise very nice shirt that has hung in my closet since I bought it because I very rarely wear suit-and-tie and it has this type of collar. I think they look worse than any other type of collar when the top is left open. I am going to check whether I could hack apart the collar buttons to make this shirt viable as an everyday-wear shirt. I had a snapdown Armani shirt that I sold on ebay for the same reason.

Personally I much prefer a more constructed spread collar with stays and some weight to it. It just looks better in my opinion, on me at least.
 

armscye

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The wearing of buttondown shirts with collar points undone has at least two proponents.

Fiat chief Gianni Agnelli often wore his unbuttoned Brooks buttondowns under Caraceni double-breasted suits with a slim wristwatch over the cuff, which is either a triple fashion blunder or the sign of a man so stylish the rules don't count. Of course, this was a guy so cool he was nicknamed "the rake of the Riviera", romanced Sophia Loren AND Gina Lollibrigida, and not only owned a Ferrari but owned, ahem,  Ferrari.

The other collar unbuttoner is Luciano Barbera, who also seems to leave his suit cuffs partially unbuttoned while picking up on Agnelli's wristwatch trick.

All part of the Italian concept of sprezzatura. Castiglione's "Book of the Courtier" translated that term as meaning "an art which does not seem to be an art. One must avoid affectation and practice in all things a certain sprezzatura, disdain or carelessness, so as to conceal art, and make whatever is done or said appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it."
 

NavyStyles

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F4,

If you can pull off not buttoning the collar buttons, go for it. I tend to stay away from shirts with collar buttons, becasue I prefer spread collars with stays. However, I do have one shirt with a button down collar. I haven't worn it in a very long time, but I left it unbuttoned. Keep in mind, it was during the summer in an extremely casual setting. Again, I strongly prefer spread collars.
 

bigbadbuff

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is the consensus that button down collars under suits- no matter how nice the shirt- looks bad? I feel it does...
 

F4iryder14

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However, I do have one shirt with a button down collar.  I haven't worn it in a very long time, but I left it unbuttoned.  Keep in mind, it was during the summer in an extremely casual setting.  Again, I strongly prefer spread collars.
I hear you Navy.  That's what I was talking about here.  Very casual, bar/club settings.  I think I could pull it off in the way Johnny mentioned, kind of an intentionally sloppy/laid back look.  I do prefer spread collars myself, these shirts were just such a great deal and really soft that I couldn't pass them up.

Kevin
 

F4iryder14

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is the consensus that button down collars under suits- no matter how nice the shirt- looks bad? I feel it does...
I completely agree with you here. Like I said in the original post, I would never do it with a suit or a business type setting.

Kevin
 

LabelKing

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All part of the Italian concept of sprezzatura. Castiglione's "Book of the Courtier" translated that term as meaning "an art which does not seem to be an art. One must avoid affectation and practice in all things a certain sprezzatura, disdain or carelessness, so as to conceal art, and make whatever is done or said appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it."
Jean Cocteau also had a knack for those unbuttoned suit sleeve buttons. Andy Warhol looked fab in jeans, suit jacket, and a wig. That is not something everybody can do. Also Cecil Beaton wore a t-shirt, white suit, and patent tuxedo pumps, and still had a look. It's a certain je ne sais quoi as the French put it.
 

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