The Wardrobe Code - Be Yourself

Splurge / Invest / Steal : the button-down shirt

SIS: the button-down


Once upon a time, there was a girl trying to dress a curvy frame.

The ratio between her bust and waist may have been enviable – but, to her, it was a pain to dress. Especially when it came to wardrobe staples, like the good ol’ white button down shirt.

Despite her love for this extremely versatile garment, she couldn’t seem to find one that didn’t need alterations. She longed for a form-fitting silhouette. But, mostly, button-downs just made her look boxy and 2 sizes bigger than she actually was.

So, in an act of exasperated rebellion, she swore to never again wear a button-down shirt.

It wasn’t that all blouses were out of the question – just the traditional, menswear-style ones that she thought didn’t work for her frame.

Okay, I confess! That was me.

And, I must also confess that defying this garment was partly about fit – but also rebellion against ubiquity.

See, the button-down shirt is listed on countless “must have” compilations of wardrobe staples. I mean, can one garment possibly be so perfect that it’s a must have for everyone?

In short, the answer is no. No garment is perfect for everyone, because we all have different lifestyles and personal tastes.

However, the beauty of a (well-fitting) button-down is in the versatility I mentioned before.

Of course, you can wear it with trousers and a blazer. That’s a no-brainer combo for conveying a professional (if, a bit bland) look. But you can also pair with … well, almost anything.

This is where you might expect a graphic showing how you can wear a button down shirt this way, or this way.

But, instead, I want you to look at your wardrobe and ask yourself how it works there. Because, when you rely too much on examples you see using others’ wardrobes, it’s possible that it might slow you down using your wardrobe. It’s easy to fool yourself into thinking you don’t yet have the “right” garments, which gives you a very convenient excuse to put it off.

So, here’s some homework: go to your own closet and make 3 different combinations with a button-down you have. How can you wear it with pants, a skirt or a dress? Can you wear it under something? How about over something?

See, it’s in that experimentation where you find inspiration. Go ahead, try it out. And keep an open mind.



  1. So for those of us that are larger chested with a smaller waist, what do you recommend. Any button down I’ve tried makes me look like I’m a box or “busting” at the seems depending on which part of my body I attempt to fit.

    • Nicole Longstreath says:

      Hi Candace ~

      I wish I could recommend a certain brand, but they’re all different. You just have to try them on, one-by-one, to find what fits YOUR body. Even if you and I may share a similarity in that we have narrow waists and a fuller rack, we still will have different dimensions in length.

      If you find a shirt that fits in the shoulders and chest, you may just need to have it altered to fit your waist better. This is an easy alteration and can usually be done at your dry cleaners.

  2. With a recent shift in career field, my collection of button down shirts has been growing. I like to wear them under sweaters, cardigans, and solo.

    If I’m not wearing a second layer on top I always fall victim to the dreaded BOOB GAP! It doesn’t scare me though, I have stocked up on matching color camis and my favorite wardrobe weapon: double-sided fashion tape so I can wear my button downs without fear.

    I find some of my favorite button downs at Kohl’s, Target, Walmart, and my local second hand store.

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