The New Way To Wear A Button-Up Or Button-Down Shirt

The button-up or button-down shirt with a collar is a perpetual classic and we’ve probably all had one or more in our closets for years.

That said, these types of shirts can be tricky to wear. Buttons can gap at the bust or elsewhere, collars don’t lay flat, darts or seams aren’t situated in the right place or missing altogether, or you just don’t want to deal with wearing a shirt that you have to iron constantly.

Button-Up Or Button-Down?

button-up vs button-down fountainof30


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Button-Up: J.Crew Slim-fit Stretch Cotton Poplin Shirt, $79.50

Button-Down: GAP Perfect Shirt, $49.95

A quick bit of semantics. While a button-up can be used to refer to any shirt that buttons all the way up the front (like this one from J.Crew), a button-down traditionally means any button-up shirt with a collar that can be buttoned down (like this one from Gap). We usually see the terms used interchangeably in retail, so when you are searching, try using both if you can’t find exactly what you are looking for!

Button-Up Shirts for Women Over 50

Regardless of what you call it, there are more options than ever on the racks right now, and an equal number of ways to style your button-down or button-up so it looks fresh.

And really, if you’re a woman over 50, this type of shirt can be a great modern option with everything from denim to ball-gown skirts (just ask designer Carolina Herrera who’s been rocking the look for decades). Plus they cover all the things you might want to be covered. On top of that with the right seaming and collar placement, button-up shirts can be incredibly flattering.

Here are some of our favorite options and ways to wear button-up and button-down shirts right now.

Oversize and Borrowed From The Boys

A shirt that looks like you borrowed it from a dude can be a great casual look, especially with narrow pants or as a cover-up. Keep it simple with this white boyfriend button-up from Old Navy and pair it with slim-cut pants or straight-leg jeans and some ankle boots or clogs for a casual, on-trend look.

Romantic and Feminine

A button-up with lace trim, poet sleeves, or pin-tucked detailing can have a vintage feel to it, like this one from Uniqlo or this one from Caslon at Nordstrom. These types of blouses can get fussy, so we suggest pairing them with simple bottoms like a sleek pair of wide-leg trousers. Alternatively, you could lean into the costumey feel and do leather (or vegan leather) bottoms, but that’s definitely a statement.

Breezy and Sheer

Change up the fabric and a button-up goes from crisply tailored to soft and feminine, like this one from Free People. Chiffon, georgette, or anything light and gauzy work well; you can tuck it into denim or a high-waisted pair of trousers for some definition, or leave it out and loose for a more flowy, bohemian feel.

Square-Neck and Vintage-esque

If you don’t love the feeling of a high collar around your neck or you just want a different look, go for a button-up that’s open at the top, like this one from Madewell. It would be a great slightly dressy option with an a-line skirt for a date night or an elevated casual ensemble with straight-leg denim.

Striped and Modern

A striped button-up is hardly a new look, but done in a boxy, structured shape like this one from AYR and paired with barrel-cut or wide-leg denim it might be. Add some definition by tucking it in (or doing a French tuck) and pair it with some statement jewelry–think big chandelier earrings or layers of necklaces–to keep the look from being too preppy.

Suede and Luxurious

Going for an interesting texture in a classic silhouette is a great way to change things up. We are loving all things suede and vegan suede this fall, and this oversized button-up from Banana Republic Factory is an easy way to wear the seasonal trend. We suggest wearing this type of shirt open like a jacket over essentially anything (think of it as an alternative to flannel). Or go more formal by pairing it with wool trousers or a satin bias cut or pencil skirt.

Shop for Button-Downs And Button-Ups

Pictured above from left to right:

Old Navy Oversized Button-Down Boyfriend Shirt for Women, $34.99

Uniqlo Rayon Pintuck Long-Sleeve Blouse, $39.90

Caslon® Lace Inset Pintuck Blouse, now $39

Free People Button-Up Shirt, now $59.97

Madewell Button-Front Smocked-Back Top, now $62.99

AYR The Deep End Shirt, $125

Banana Republic Adria Oversized Vegan Suede Shirt, now $54

Do you love to wear classic button-ups or do you prefer some of the different variations, or would you rather choose a different style top altogether? What do you pair them with? How do you keep the buttons from gaping and exposing your bra or underpinnings? We’ve heard about people using tagging guns to close button-ups at the seams instead of our tried and true double-sided tape or safety pins, have you tried that trick?

Let us know in the comments or in our Growing Younger Facebook Group!

–Jacqueline Zenn

You may also like to read more of Jacqueline’s fashion posts like Best Ways To Wear The Retro 90s Trend For Women Over 50 and Subtle, Simple and Chic Halloween Looks for Women Over 50.

This post contains affiliate links which may give us a commission at no additional cost to you.

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