I have noticed lately that executives have taken to wearing button-down shirts with suits. I thought convention was that button-downs are to be worn only with blazers and sports jackets.
First, let's explain the terminology to the very young. Button-down means a shirt with a collar with buttons on the points. A shirt with buttons down the front is called a shirt. (A shirt without buttons is called a T-shirt.)
The conventions of wearing button-down shirts is one that change as it crosses the Atlantic. Button-downs are a very American look. They were introduced by Brooks Brothers in 1896, based on polo shirts and became a staple of casual dress at university sporting events. This association with privilege has led to them being worn with blazers and ties by many a respectable American, and now sometimes even with suits.
That's where a Brit - and anyone with anglophilic class-consciousness - would object. In classic western sartorial convention, a button-down is too casual for a suit. I would never pair the two.
Russell Smith's latest novel, Girl Crazy , was recently published. Have a fashion question? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .