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8 tips for styling a casual button-down for women

July 3, 2023

The button-down may have been made for men’s workwear back in the 1800s, but it’s since become a must-have staple in just about every woman’s closet. No matter your style, button-down shirts for women are a foundational piece in any wardrobe.

Whether you’re layering it into a professional outfit or wearing it with shorts for a casual summer day, there’s no denying the power and versatility of a simple yet traditional button-down. It’s practical and can be worn in so many ways, but it’s also effortlessly stylish. The possibilities are endless.

But all that variety can also pose a challenge. How do you style your button-down without looking boring, shapeless, or old-fashioned?

We’re here to help you on your button-down styling journey. Here are eight top tips for styling a casual women’s button-down.

1. tie it into a cropped shirt

This is probably the easiest way to style your button-down, but it never goes out of style. Transform it into a cropped shirt by leaving the bottom unbuttoned and tying it into a knot. You can customize just how cropped you want it, keeping it low on the waist for a more professional look or tying it closer to your ribcage for a look that’s perfect for summer.

It’s cool, classy, and totally effortless. It only takes a moment to do, but it can make a last-minute outfit look that much more chic.

2. make it oversized

When it comes to business attire, you’ve probably heard all about how important it is to wear a well-fitted shirt. Well with a button-down, it doesn’t hurt to break the rules. Try getting a button-down that’s larger than your size, but not too baggy. Somewhere around one to two sizes bigger than your usual fit will do the trick.

Leave it totally untucked with a pair of skinny jeans, or tuck half into the waistband for an extra cool, laid-back look. Pair it with a pair of sunglasses and a purse for the ultimate “rolled out of bed but still looking classy” outfit.

3. tuck it in

A tucked-in button-down shirt might make you think of the typical nerd from an ’80s movie. But it doesn’t have to look awkward. In fact, if it’s done right, a tucked-in button-down can bring a breezy, boho-chic look to any outfit.

Tuck the button-down all the way around your waistband, but be sure to pinch the edges to let some of the fabric spill over. Then pair it with classic skinny jeans or a colorful maxi skirt to play up the boho look.

4. pair it with a blazer

We love a statement blazer almost as much as we love a classic white button-down. Why not combine the two? A crisp white button-down paired with a colorful blazer is the ultimate “casual yet put-together” look. Try rolling up your sleeves to show a hint of the color from your button-down on your arms too.

If you’re worried about looking too formal, try dressing it down with a pair of sneakers or a relaxed scarf. If you want to up the polish of your outfit, you can always accessorize with pointed-toe heels or elegant jewelry, like rings or layered necklaces. Or even add a tie for a full-on professional look.

5. wear it over a dress

Nothing says “casual yet composed” better than a button-down dress combo. It’s as easy as it sounds—just throw your button-down over your dress. Try pairing a simple, solid-colored button-down with a more interesting pattern, like a floral dress.

Just be sure that the shirt has a higher neckline so the whole outfit feels cohesive. If there’s some stretch to the bottom of the shirt, you can always tie it into a quick knot to pull the whole look together.

6. add a chunky belt

It’s simple, but it’s powerful. Add a chunky belt to your casual button-down to cinch the waist of your button-down, especially if it’s oversized. This will give your outfit a bit more shape and draw attention to the waistline. If your outfit is on the simple side, make sure it’s a chunky statement belt that can add a bit of zest to an otherwise plain look.

7. layer it under a sweater

Are you a big fan of the preppy look? Then this styling idea is for you. Layering a button-down under a sweater is both classic and classy.

Layer a chunky knit sweater on top, making sure the collar of your button-down is folded over the sweater. You can tuck them both in for a more professional look or leave the button-down untucked and hanging below the sweater for a more relaxed look.

8. go monochrome

We all know the classic “white button-down tucked into jeans” outfit. But don’t be afraid to step away from the high contrast of denim and toward the monochrome look, for example, a white blouse paired with white jeans or dress pants.

Add a pair of tasteful sandals and sunglasses for an effortless going-out look. Try adding a belt or tying the shirt above your waistline to make sure the outfit doesn’t look shapeless.

breathe life back into your button-down looks

Pretty much everyone has at least one button-down in their closet (if you don’t have one yet, what are you waiting for?). But it takes the right styling tips to make the most of this stylish, versatile wardrobe staple. Whether you let it hang or tuck it in, there are a hundred ways to breathe life back into your button-down.

Just remember that your button-down is so much more than just workwear. Don’t be afraid to style your button-down in more casual ways, taking it out of the workplace and into the streets. Whether you’re running an errand or going out for lunch, sometimes a button-down is all you need to make your daily outfits just a bit more sophisticated.

Tried any of these button-down styling tips? We want to hear about it! Share your best button-down moments and styling tips in the comments below.