Why the button-down shirt is timeless and classic



Lyrics by Kate Streader

Who doesn’t love a button-up?

The button-down shirt is a wardrobe staple. Timeless and versatile, you’d be hard pressed to find a closet that didn’t feature some sort of long-sleeved buttonhole. In fact, to celebrate the sartorial favourite, Country Road has reissued their iconic chambray button-down shirt from 1984, which inspired us to go back to the buttonhole roots.

The button down shirt has seen many iterations over the hundreds of years it has been worn, with perhaps two of the most common styles being the white button down shirt and the chambray button down shirt.

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Chambray has an interesting history that goes back further than you might think. Despite its resemblance to denim, chambray actually predates denim by hundreds of years. Its origins date back to France in the 1500s, when chambray was made from linen rather than cotton, from which it is now usually made.

The dense weave and lightweight feel of the fabric made it a comfortable and durable fabric option for work shirts, becoming a popular choice in the 1900s. This is where the distinction between white collars and blue-collar workers – industrial workers wore chambray or denim shirts while business and finance workers wore white button-up shirts.

The chambray work shirt became part of the United States Navy uniform during this period, until the end of World War II. You can see the chambray shirt depicted on countless propaganda posters of the time, including the famous “We Can Do It!” from 1943! Poster by J. Howard Miller.

So how did a work shirt become a staple of the contemporary wardrobe? We probably have Hollywood icons Marilyn Monroe and James Dean to thank for that. After World War II, Hollywood stars began donning heavy casual wardrobes of blue jeans and button-up shirts, setting the trend for the younger generation at the time.

While button-down shirts designed for women were generally more fitted than the flowing version for men, they have evolved into a unisex style that can be worn undone as an overshirt, tied around the waist, buttoned up, tucked in, or loosely worn. close as you want to style it.

Returning to its original design, for the reissue of its classic button, Country Road returns to one of the Melbourne factories it originally worked with in the past. 80 years. The brand is also banking on Australian cotton to strengthen its support for local sourcing.

And although it’s received a few updates – in the words of founder Stephen Bennett, “it’s a much better shirt than the original” – it really captures the essence of the original, down to the last detail. inclusion of the same label that was sewn into the Country Road chambray. shirts in the 80s.

You can shop Country Road’s reissued chambray shirt here.

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