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The Best Men’s Short-Sleeved Collared Button-Down Shirt

Last updated on December 13, 2022

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Our Picks For The Top Men's Short-Sleeved Collared Button-Down Shirts

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Product Overview
Key Takeaway
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Buying Guide

There are shirts for work, night-out shirts, and shirts for lounging around the house. And then there is the short-sleeved, collared button-down shirt — the workhorse of any guy’s wardrobe. Anyone who owns one usually has several in their closet, and small wonder. They’re practical, they’re classy, and even the patterned ones can do double duty as weekend or office wear.

Needless to say, you’re apt to wear these shirts quite a bit, so it’s important to find the right one. The first thing to know is that just because a shirt has a collar and buttons doesn’t mean it’s “buttoned down.” A buttoned-down collar specifically refers to a shirt where the collars have buttons at the tips which fasten them onto the lapels. These fasteners aren’t just for show. They keep the collar firmly in place while you’re wearing a tie, and although you don’t need to use them per se, it’s definitely a mark of professionalism in the workplace.

Of course, short sleeve shirts can also be worn in a casual setting, which is what makes this specific style so versatile. With that in mind, go for fit and comfort first. When you try on the shirt, it should be loose enough to allow the full range of movement with your arms without being shapeless or baggy. If there’s any stretching of the fabric in between your shirt buttons, you should definitely go up a size or two.

Material is the next thing to consider, especially if you plan on wearing that shirt to the office. For work shirts, cotton is always a good bet. You might need to put in a little more time ironing the wrinkles out (especially with Egyptian cotton or other fine fabrics), but the feel and durability are first rate. Cotton is also less likely to hold onto sweat and can be very breathable.

Synthetic fabrics like nylon or polyester are more affordable choices that will work just fine for casual wear. If you want a silkier feel and a smoother look for date nights, there are bamboo shirts that might cost a little more but can be worth it in terms of the texture. Oxford shirts are a common type, made from a thicker, more textured cloth. They’re generally very durable and easy to clean, which is why you’ll see them worn by service industry workers and those who need to look presentable while still dealing with potential stains.

If you’re dressing to impress, you’ll definitely want to sweat the small stuff. That includes the type of buttons, which may not be buttons at all. Pearl fasteners can be a classy alternative, and wood or metal buttons will almost always be more durable and classy than the standard plastic type. At the very least, make sure your shirt has a couple of extra buttons sewn on near the bottom. They can be a lifesaver if you happen to lose one or two at a crucial time.

What to Look For

Once you’ve got that shirt buttoned up, it’s time for the age-old question: Tie or no tie? The very fact that you’re wearing short sleeves means you probably don’t need to go that formal. Still, if you’re in a pinch and work requires a tie, throw a blazer on to cover those arms and follow these simple guidelines.

Solid colors are usually the best bet for work, and can say a lot about your style. Red is of course the quintessential “power” color, though you can mute it’s aggressive effect with darker shades like burgundy. Blue is usually a safe bet for any office, and confident wearers can get away with a nice yellow or purple tie. Patterned ties can also be effective, but never wear them with a patterned shirt.

More to Explore

From mile-high heels to constrictive bodices, women have unquestionably had to endure the most pain in the pursuit of fashion. That’s not to say that men haven’t suffered too: For a time in the 19th century, formal collars were made from celluloid, which did a great job of remaining stiff. A little too stiff, as it turns out, since some men actually died due to their collars cutting off oxygen flow to the brain.

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