Why do fashion people make things so confusing? We don't know. But we're here to help. Today's burning question: what's the difference between a button-up and button-down shirt?
The short version is this: we can call it button-up - or a button-front - if the shirt buttons all the way up the front. A button-down shirt actually just refers to buttons on the collar.
A button-down shirt has two small buttons to keep the collar fastened to the shirt. In case you're taking notes, the button-down shirt was originally functional - polo players needed to keep their collars from flopping while they rode horses. It's now somewhat less than functional. But it still exists. Like your appendix. But I digress.
A button-down collar isn't worn formally. It's primarily for casual or business-casual environments. The alternative is a straight collar, which is more of a modern, sleek look. These straight collar styles include pointed, semi-spread, and widespread. However the collar can flare over time depending on the quality of the shirt, materials used, level of starch and the brand. That's when collar stays come in to the picture. Those are the little plastic or metal pieces that can be inserted into the collar to maintain shape.
Armed with knowledge, you can now bring this up at dinner parties and delight people everywhere with origin stories about polo players.