A good button-down shirt is a closet staple. They’re extremely versatile; they can easily morph from office wear to a casual day top, and even as a going-out piece. Aside from its sartorial adaptability, button-downs are loved by many for their flexibility in terms of overall aesthetic. You can instantly look refined and elegant in one look, and then with a few tweaks, your borrowed-from-the-boys top is easily giving you a laid back look.
Now, since this known office staple is indeed inspired by menswear, finding pieces that flawlessly fit can be quite a challenge. Below, we created a simple guideline you can follow when purchasing a button-down.
First off, remember that in choosing the right button-down for the office, you have to go beyond just ticking off boxes to follow your work dress codes. You also have to mind the fit, cut, silhouette, as well as how these pieces fall on your body. Below, we've categorized some concerns that may help you choose button-downs that will accentuate your body best.
How to choose the right button-down shirt for your shape
If you have a small chest
When looking for button-down shirts, look for top heavy pieces. Watch out for design details like pussy bows, ruffles, pleats, and even exaggerated pockets on the shirt to add volume to your chest area. You can also opt for tops that come in soft fabrics so they hug your body better instead of creating a stiff silhouette that further emphasizes your small chest.
Shirt with contrast buttons, P2495, ZARA, Greenbelt 5
Pleated blouse with tie, P4990, MASSIMO DUTTI, Greenbelt 5
Ruffled blouse, P1495, STRADIVARIUS, Glorietta 2
Balloon sleeve blouse, P1990, H&M, Robinsons Magnolia
Tie collar shirt, P1490, H&M, Robinsons Magnolia
If you have broad shoulders
Look for shirts with sleeve seams that fall slightly on the edge of your shoulders and taper down the waist so you won’t look too bulky or boxy. If you want to cinch your waist, make sure to wear your belt at your true waist and that the hem of your shirt is slightly longer to offset the volume from your shoulders. This will pull the eye down for a longer body frame. Additionally, try to avoid puffy sleeves that cut mid-arm or cap sleeves as these will further emphasize your shoulders.
Linen shirt with belt, P4990, MASSIMO DUTTI, Shangri-La Plaza Mall
Patchwork shirt, P1695, STRADIVARIUS, SM Aura
Striped blouse, P899, H&M, SM North EDSA
Contrast long shirt, P2798, ESPRIT, Zalora.com.ph
Rebecca shirt, P1199, COTTON ON, Zalora.com.ph
If you have a large bust
The trick is to camouflage your chest area to balance your body proportions. Do so by wearing button-down shirts that have buttons that start at the chest area, have playful prints, or have buttons that are offset from the middle of the body.
Paisley print shirt, P2695, MANGO, Greenbelt 5
Flocked cotton shirt, P4990, MASSIMO DUTTI, Greenbelt 5
Tailored tie-dye shirt with pocket, P1295, BERSHKA, SM Aura
Dina top, P1199, CHLOE EDIT, Zalora.com.ph
Woven long sleeve blouse, P2798, ESPRIT, Zalora.com.ph
If you have a rounded tummy
Loose silhouettes from the waist down are your best bets to help conceal a rounded tummy. With these in mind, keep your embellishments above the waist to redirect the eyes, away from the stomach. Try puff sleeves, embellished collars, pussy bows, and pleats to get this effect. If you’re looking to cinch the waist, make sure to do so with a solid-colored shirt or wear a dress shirt to balance your proportions. Remember to avoid snug or too tapered pieces that will draw more attention to your tummy.
Long shirt with belt, P1695, STRADIVARIUS, SM Aura
Balloon sleeve shirt, P1695, PULL & BEAR, SM Megamall
Crepe shirt with long sleeves, STRADIVARIUS, Glorietta 2
Mimi wrap blouse, P1999, SUSTO THE LABEL, Zalora.com.ph
Long-sleeved top, P1950, SPRINGFIELD, Zalora.com.ph
How to Style
Now that you know what you’re looking for in a button-down shirt, it’s time to learn how to style one. Abandon the old button-down and trouser combo—there are so many ways to stylishly wear this office staple. Scroll down and see a breakdown of 10 street style outfits centered on your fave button-down which you can easily do yourself.
1. Make your slip look office appropriate.
Thinking how to maximize your slip dress’ cost per wear? Add a button-down instead of a T-shirt so you can easily bring the outfit from casual to boardroom meeting in a snap.
2. Add a turtleneck.
If your office gets chilly, add a layer of warmth to your button-down shirt and trouser ensemble via a lightweight turtleneck. Keep your shirt buttons open—before tucking it in—to create an elongated silhouette as turtlenecks hide your neck, stunting your frame.
3. Keep it monochromatic.
Achieve a polished monochromatic look by wearing a blazer that shares the same hue as your top. Plus points if your bag can join the palette, too!
4. Belt it.
Tucking in your button-down shirt isn’t the only way to cinch your waist. You can also define your womanly shape and highlight your best assets by adding a belt to an untucked button-down and pleated skirt outfit combo.
5. Layer, layer, layer.
Here’s a cool work around your office dress code: layering! Got a cute dress that has no sleeves and is too short to be worn at work? Add a button-down to solve the sleeve problem and extend the hemline by adding a pleated skirt under. Employ this trick seamlessly by sticking to one solid color for all three pieces.
6. Hop on the athleisure trend.
Sporty dressing doesn’t limit you to dress in just sports bras, hoodies, or windbreakers. In fact, you can add a button-down top to your fave side-striped trousers and white kicks to upgrade your athleisure look. Don’t forget to add chunky gilded accessories to finish everything off.
7. Layer over a dress.
Let your creativity run wild when wearing a printed button-down. If you’re up for some light layering, add a short sleeve shift dress over your top. Make sure they share the same color palette to keep your ensemble chic and polished.
8. Keep it casual.
Pair your favorite button-down shirt with straight-cut jeans for a chic errand day outfit. Slip on strappy heels if you need to elevate the look.
9. Borrow from the boys.
It’s time to borrow a button-down or two from the men in your life. To style the oversized aesthetic of their button-downs, pair the loose top with wide-leg trousers and throw on a structured blazer. Keep the top untucked for a more laidback vibe.
10. Add some sparkle.
Who says your button-down shirt is made to be worn in the office alone? Make this workwear staple party-ready by pairing it with a sparkly skirt or a fun pair of bottoms.