BD Shirts: For Old Men Only?

Jan Libourel

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This morning I was talking to one of my oldest friends, an old comrade from my prep school days. I was mentioning that I had bought a new shirt from Mercer specifically for his daughter's wedding (although it now seems that the lass and her beau are shilly-shallying around about the date). In the course of the conversation, he mentioned that in recent years he has shunned shirts with button-down collars because they were "old-mannish." I had been aware of some sentiment of this sort on the part of my stepson and perhaps some of his friends, but my friend is 72 and hence pretty "old-mannish" himself.

I have always thought of BD shirts as timeless menswear classics suitable for all age groups. I had certainly never thought of them as specifically "old-mannish." Most of my shirts are BDs. By wearing them, am I starting to brand myself with archaic costume, much like those old fellows who clung to their frock coats and spats into the 1920s?

By the way, the shirt I bought for the wedding is a straight collar, not a BD. For anyone interested, the shirt is Mercer's Broad Blue with White Stripe #598 broadcloth, with contrast white broadcloth collar and French cuffs.
 
So the youngs need spread, or even cutaway, collars?
I'm not super big on the uber-trad concept of wearing button-downs with power suits and all, but that's my perception of formality. If anything, on would think that the floppy and sporty button down would be a jaunty youth look and stiff collars the realm of the archaic and stodgy.
 
Button downs still feature prominantly at J Crew and many of the SWD shops - think Gittman vintage. Epaulet's own line features button down collars. Now they might not be wearing them with jackets but the concept has not died on the vine and these are not old guy shops
 
I'd never wear a bd with a suit and tie. Well except for say a linen or cotton suit but will only wear button downs if open necked and often wear them with a tie with a blazer or sports coat. I have around 60 button downs at last count. A bunch of them are mainly for around home and schlepping around to shops etc due to fit, foxing or such but still look better than most salary men I see on the train. ,
Uniglo, H&M etc are full of button downs, sadly mostly with stingy collars, but they are pretty widely worn by the "young folks"
 
As fxh says, unfortunately there are quite a few companies making shirts with button-down collars that are pathetically shrunken, with very short collar points, and it's those that are typically most popular with younger men.

However, maybe it's just my group of friends, but I know quite a few people in their twenties and early thirties who wear OCBD shirts.

I typically wear them with either jeans, on the weekend, or with a pair of odd trousers, odd jacket, and tie (often a knit tie) during the week.

I must admit that I do sometimes wear a mid-grey suit with a white OCBD shirt, a black knit tie, white linen pocket square and black captoe balmoral shoes, as I think that it looks nice in a 1960s-ish way.
 
I can tell you - in real life - an unbuttoned button down - looks just like you might expect - that you forgot to button it down or theres a button missing. In short it looks weird and sloppy unfinished. It can look ok in photos on a forum.

If you actually get around a bit amongst well dressed people in real life as opposed to forums - one thing you do notice is that photos aren't the full story. Some things look great in photos but shite in reality. Other things look dreadful in photos - esp by forum standards - but look good in real life. Of course somethings look good both in photos and real life.

I have been taught a lot by a female friend who was in clothing retail - and still is a bit - she taught me about trying things on - or not - depending on the need for a sale. Mainly she talks about hanger appeal - somethings look great on the hanger but not on a person other things have no hanger appeal but look good on a person. I've also had that reinforced by dressing men - until you put something on someone you don't really see how it will look - goes for silhouette, cut, colour everything. (Interestingly I just dressed someone Tuesday who will be a panel member in TV show taping yesterday. It wont show for 6 weeks or so I think but I'm fascinated to see how well we did. He was looking for a BD to wear open necked. We didn't end up finding one.)

Although I dare say if I went to a meetup of forum blokes interested in clothes - which I do regularly - through a networking /charity group we have - referred to by a female colleague as "Your pretty boy group" that around 50% might get that its sprezz. But of course it isn't sprezz at all. I don't think theres more than 2 people on SF or anywhere who understand what the real meaning of sprezzatura is. Much less read Castiglione or even heard of him.
 
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Although I dare say if I went to a meetup of forum blokes interested in clothes - which I do regularly - through a networking /charity group we have - referred to by a female colleague as "Your pretty boy group" that around 50% might get that its sprezz. But of course it isn't sprezz at all. I don't think theres more than 2 people on SF or anywhere who understand what the real meaning of sprezzatura is. Much less read Castiglione or even heard of him.

This would be a good post for the iGent thread, that I think is floating around somewhere.

In essence, if I remember my undergrad history reading, to exhibit sprezzatura, one must be able to make difficult things look easy - to be skilled in arms, riding, dancing, and all of the other arts or abilities required of a Renaissance courtier or nobleman - and, in addition to making difficult tasks look easy, to not appear calculating or contrived when doing so. In other words, to be good at doing things and to be good at doing them in a carefree, nonchalant and uncontrived manner.

That's pretty much the antithesis of iGents who you see on Tumblr and Instagram, trying to show off their "sprezz", as they always look as though they are trying too hard, with their deliberately unbuttoned button-down collars, deliberately sockless loafers, deliberately twisted ties and so on.
 
Bd shirts are an American invention by Brook Bros on the late XIX only for playing sports with.

Should never be used with tie or dress purposes. ( And omho shold never used)
 
I like BD without suits, noBD with suits. My reasoning behind this is that BD collars usually looks better than a regular non buttoned collar unless is well done, but most people have shitty shirts and looks like shit.

I know this is extreme, but I have seen it in Whorelando and Miami.

CrazyP-008 Edward Green-Blue TV.jpg
 
I wear 50% buttondowns for work, without ties. The straight collar tends to look a bit sharper but I like the buttondown as well. The RL buttondowns I wear unbuttoned,never with a tie.
 
I know this is extreme, but I have seen it in Whorelando and Miami.

"Whorelando"? I've been to Orlando several times, but nary a working girl did I spot, and I have a very practiced eye in that department. The whole place seemed terribly wholesome, but maybe things have changed in the decade or so since I was last there.
 
I'm late to this thread, but as a compromise I think a super spread button down collar is the only way forward to maintain peace and order. Whose with me?
 
I'm late to this thread, but as a compromise I think a super spread button down collar is the only way forward to maintain peace and order. Whose with me?

Make it from a patterned fabric, add a bowtie in a clashing pattern, and you're #menzwear2016
 
Actually, sprezz is about to become LIKE, SO F/W 2014. The new sprezz will be carefully laced shoes, every button buttoned (in its right hole, too!), and meticulous attention to detail. The #menzwear aficionados will all breathe a sigh of relief when they realize that this actually removes the last step from their 2014-2015 preparations. (the deliberately messing-up)
 
I'm late to this thread, but as a compromise I think a super spread button down collar is the only way forward to maintain peace and order. Whose's with me?
I've seen such things and they are awful. A button down collar is a coy flower, slightly opened. The spread is a harlot with legs akimbo, and anything more is a full-on gyno exam.
 
That is spectactularly awful in that the cutaway is a perfectly horizontal line, an the sides look vertical. It looks like a yearbook photo was cropped out and grafted atop this photo.
Also, the formal collar with casual checked fabric :rant:
 
A good button down must nearly always be Oxford. It must have peaks over 3". It cant be too spread as it looks silly and doesn't roll properly. In fact almost no spread at all looks good if the peaks are long. It must have decent tie space or it looks odd.
 
in the mid-90's, BB made a killer pinpoint oxford- beefy, soft hand, good construction - but a really miserable OCBD.
 
Pinpoint oxford, and sometimes a twill of some sort. Some whiff of texture and heartiness is needed.
yes yes - exactly

Oxford beefy - its just a general rule of thumb

Although I must confess I have a few nice BDs in poplin - only with broad candy or butchers stripes.
 
I was just glancing at this thread when my 30-year-old stepson made an appearance. I asked him about this matter. His opinion was that BD shirts looked fine worn open-necked but did look "old mannish" when worn with a tie. I am not sure of his reasoning behind this dictum.
 
This morning I was talking to one of my oldest friends, an old comrade from my prep school days. I was mentioning that I had bought a new shirt from Mercer specifically for his daughter's wedding (although it now seems that the lass and her beau are shilly-shallying around about the date). In the course of the conversation, he mentioned that in recent years he has shunned shirts with button-down collars because they were "old-mannish." I had been aware of some sentiment of this sort on the part of my stepson and perhaps some of his friends, but my friend is 72 and hence pretty "old-mannish" himself.

I have always thought of BD shirts as timeless menswear classics suitable for all age groups. I had certainly never thought of them as specifically "old-mannish." Most of my shirts are BDs. By wearing them, am I starting to brand myself with archaic costume, much like those old fellows who clung to their frock coats and spats into the 1920s?

By the way, the shirt I bought for the wedding is a straight collar, not a BD. For anyone interested, the shirt is Mercer's Broad Blue with White Stripe #598 broadcloth, with contrast white broadcloth collar and French cuffs.

Random assertion. I wear them plenty and see them plenty on all ages.
 
What's odd is that usually the youngs go for casual and sloppy. BD should fit the bill.
However, I guess they see suits and ties as slick dressy stuff, and a "sharp" stiff collar is more apt for that.
 
I was just glancing at this thread when my 30-year-old stepson made an appearance. I asked him about this matter. His opinion was that BD shirts looked fine worn open-necked but did look "old mannish" when worn with a tie. I am not sure of his reasoning behind this dictum.
Perhaps he thinks only old men go full-Ivy/Trad?
 
I don't have any as they just don't appeal to me. From an outsider's perspective they are not old mannish, they just evoke a classic American look.
 
I like contrasting horn colored button downs on my white linen shirts, helps keep the collar from sprezzing.
 

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