This shirt. The one you see in every photo in this post. And in almost every Work It post too. It’s the J. Crew Men’s Slim Secret Wash shirt and it is THE perfect button down. I have to credit Samantha for finding it. She came into the office one day wearing it and I was immediately like “Where? How?” She proceeded to tell me how she finally found the perfect button down that doesn’t RIDE UP like women’s ones do (What IS that, anyway!?) and isn’t weirdly fitted in the waist and doesn’t have weird slits on the sides. And then I proceeded to buy it in every color because I don’t mess around when a unicorn of a shirt comes to my attention.
Around Christmas time, J. Crew was having a gigantic sale and I peer pressured you all into buying my absolute favorite shirt because it really is THAT good. (I should note that this isn’t sponsored, by the way!) And then I started getting a bunch of messages from you guys saying “I bought the shirt without even thinking and now I have no idea how to wear it!” Because at the end of the day, a button down can seem super office-y, right? Well as someone who doesn’t work in your average office, I’ve figured out a lot of ways to dress it down. So today since I saw J. Crew is having another sale on several of the shirts (40% off the pink stripe!!!!) I wanted to share seven ways to wear a button down outside of the office! It has a lot to do with tucking and cuffing because it is a men’s shirt after all, so I’ve got all those tutorials in here too! Ready!?
Real quick, I want to discuss the sizing of the secret wash shirt. All of the ones I own are the “slim” cut of the shirt. There is also a regular cut which would give you a little more room in the chest if you need it. Keep that in mind if you’re ordering!
Above (green stripe) is the medium, I bought it because it was the only one left at the time and I needed it for our Christmas photos. This one is too big for me, but I wanted to show you how you can make it work, in case you prefer to buy a bigger size or maybe you’re just trying to make your husband or boyfriends shirt work. I got you, girl!
The pink stripe and purple are extra smalls. This one fits me best overall (shoulders and body) and what most of the ones I own are. I don’t have the small pictured here but if I were planning to only wear the shirt tied in the front, I’d go for a small because it gives me just a little more fabric to work with when tying. I hope that helps when you’re figuring out your size and style preferences!
Cuffed + Half Tuck with Jeans
First up, let’s talk about how to cuff. You can simply roll your shirt cuff but this way gives a much more casual look, like you didn’t even TRY! I recommend cuffing your shirt before you put it on. It’s easier that way! You’ll want to fold your shirt so the cuff hits about where you want the final length. From there, you’ll roll the sleeve up until it hits or overlaps the cuff. You can leave the cuff itself sticking up above or fold it down and mess around with it to get the look you like! This cuff is repeated for almost every outfit in the post.
For this first look, we went with a half tuck. This is the most “effortless” way to style the shirt. You simply button the shirt down to where your pants hit, and then tuck in one side.
Front Tuck with Jeans
There’s an art to the full tuck, did you know!? Doing it the “right” way helps make the shirt feel more fitted and fit better and smoother into whatever you’re tucking it into. First, button the shirt down to the top of your jeans. Then fold the entire bottom of the shirt under in the back, until the length sits right at the bottom of the waistband of your jeans. Take one side of the shirt (the one that is underneath when buttoned), cross it to the other side of your body and tuck it into your jeans. Last take the other side and cross it the opposite way and tuck.
Short Sleeve Cuff + Full Tuck with Jeans
The tuck on this one is simple, you button the shirt to where the button of your jeans hit and then tuck the entire shirt in, crossing in front as mentioned above if you need a little extra help “cheating” the fit of it. For this look, I wanted to talk more about the shorter sleeve cuff. This is a great option for a shirt that’s a lot bigger than you’d like, because it pulls the sleeve in a lot.
Similar to the other cuff, you will fold the sleeve of the shirt up, this time having the cuff land above your elbow. Then roll the sleeve until it hits the bottom of the cuff. Fold/adjust as desired!
Front Tie with Shorts
My favorite way to wear this shirt, the tie!!! I love this because it’s the most casual look and is so versatile. When you try to tie your button downs have you gotten something that looks like the below? With that weird gaping hole so you see your belly button? Yep, there’s a trick to prevent that.
Here’s how to tie it! Button the shirt down one button below where the shirt hits the top of your shorts/pants. It’ll feel like you buttoned it too far, it’s supposed to! Then, fold the entire shirt under until the length hits the bottom of the waistband. The folding will give you more fabric to work with when tying which is key. Gather one side of the shirt in each hand and cross in front. Then pull one side through the hole in-between the bottom two buttons you buttoned. Finish by tying a second knot as you normally would. BAM! No weird gap!
Open Front Tie with a Tee
A second really great way to wear the shirt tied for a casual look is over a t-shirt (A pizza t-shirt!? Mhm…) Put the shirt on overtop of a t-shirt and instead of buttoning it like above, fold the bottom under so you have the most fabric possible to work with, but just tie a regular knot. You won’t have the weird gaping hole issue here since the shirt isn’t buttoned at all. This is great for that in-between weather when it’s too hot for a sweater but too cold for just a t-shirt.
Open Front Tie Over a Dress
Just like the t-shirt look, but over a dress! This instantly makes a dress feel more casual, which I love. You can wear this shirt tied over a dress that’s a straight cut like this, or that has a fitted bodice and A-line or flared skirt.
The Cuff with Overalls
Last, overalls!! I love wearing the solid and striped versions of this shirt with overalls. This is where this particular shirt is great because the casual material and loose fit doesn’t make it ride up like a lot of other button-downs would under overalls! You could do a regular cuff or even the shorter cuff with this, both would be so cute!
Photos by Jeff Mindell
I hope these tips and tricks help inspire you guys to style this (or any!) button down for more casual looks!! If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that no matter how much my style changes, I always gravitate to a button down as a wardrobe staple. I’m going to link all of my favorite patterns and colors of this shirt below for you! Remember all of the ones I have are the *SLIM* cut, make sure you select that before picking your size if you want the same fit!
Pink Stripe | Lavender
Turquoise Stripe | Blue
Blush Buffalo Plaid | White
The green stripe I’m wearing in this post is sold out.
You can shop all the secret wash shirts right here!
Other Items Pictured
Jeans | Jean Shorts | White Shorts
Pizza T-Shirt | Overalls
Orange Mules | Pink Heels | Pink Sneakers | Green Heels
I love these styles, especially the overalls version and the full tuck with jeans! Thanks for the inspo!
THANK YOU for this post! I have recently realized that button downs are a go-to for me as well, but I have trouble finding ones I love and interesting ways to style them. Stealing ALL of these ideas, and planning to stock up on the shirts – thank you thank you!
Fleksy Keyboard 2018 APK says
I like for articel, thank you for this post.
I love your fashion posts! Even though I may not buy this shirt it still gives lots of inspiration for other ways to wear button ups!
I love a button down with a dress.
Welp, you convinced me…I just bought three for less than $50!! 🙈 So excited to test out these styles!
email login says
Thank you for sharing! I wear button down a lot. Gotta try all these styles.
A cute buttondown is definitely a wardrobe staple! I love how you styled it here and every single one of these outfits! Thanks for all the fun summer style inspo, Kelly!
Beverly Kohn says
Found you on Pinterest!! What a shock!! I will admit I am 78 , 2 daughters, 4 grandchildren, 2 great grandchildren. ( we all started very young) I have been a Preppy since the 50’s. Button downs were the main staple to wear at Boarding School. We tied those shirts in even more styles ( that’s where your personality came out) Even wore loafers,Papagolos in every color.Brooks Brothers was that eras J Crew. Favorite look even now. I guess Preppies never go out of style.