One of the things about menswear that I have come to love is learning the stories behind the origins of classic staples. I’ve mentioned why suit jackets and blazers are designed to leave the bottom button unbottoned, and briefly touched on the history of the button-down shirt, but it’s a topic that fascinates me enough that I’m going to start writing dedicated posts to the history of men’s style items and terms. First on the list, we will return to the button-down so I can give the whole story:
The button-down collar has been around for a long time, but was originally used only in sportingwear, and wasn’t adapted for the menswear fashion world until the late 1800’s. Legend has it that John Brooks (of the Brooks Brothers family) took a trip to the UK in 1986 and saw the collars being used by polo players. Tradition required the players to wear collared shirts, but they had found the collars to have a tendence to flap around and be quite a visual distraction while they were playing. Buttoning down the collars was simply a practical solution to a logistical problem. John Brooks took a liking to the style of the shirt and brought it back to the States when he returned, introducing it to the Brooks Brothers lineup and creating an American prep classic. Pictured here is my OCBD from Frank and Oak (one of my favorite shirts):
Just a short little story, but I love knowing these things, and it tends to boggle people’s minds when I can pull random tidbits like this out over drinks, which is always fun too!