How To Wear A Button-Down Shirt This Fall (Hint: It's Not How You're Expecting)

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There’s nothing like a good micro-trend to get you excited about trying something fresh and creative with your look. It’s especially appealing when the trend pertains to a new way of wearing something, as opposed to a new thing to wear. It’s so much easier to get onboard and test-drive a trend when you already have the necessary items hanging right there in your closet. So, do you own a button-down? Because how to wear a button-down shirt this fall involves a new styling trick that’s already popping up all over Instagram.

It’s hard to pinpoint when exactly this look officially became a thing, but it seems much of the fashion world decided to be done with the whole buttoning your shirt up all the way business. The new way decrees you need only bother with one, maybe two top buttons, at most. The rest of the shirt should be left loose and open.

It might seem a simplistic notion, just fastening your shirt differently, but the effect is surprisingly impactful. This quick and easy styling method makes the humble button-down feel cooler than it ever has before. Keep scrolling below for inspiration and outfit ideas that will put classic shirting at the center of your wardrobe.

Long Button-Down + Loose Trousers

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Consider this your go-to formula for creating a look that's at once put-together and undone. Start at the collar of your shirt and button down till just above your waistband, then pull the loose ends back and tuck your hands into your pockets, pinning the shirt panels in place. You'll need a shirt that is long enough to have plenty of fabric at the ends to pull back, and it's best to get one that's slouchy but not sloppy. Same goes for the pants, though you could wear this with practically anything on bottom and the result would always look stylized and cool.

Animal-Print Shirt + White Pants

An animal-print blouse and white pants combo, à la Elsa Hosk, is a high-impact pairing that's equal parts exotic and modern. The graphic zebra stripes are daring, which is balanced by the clean minimalism of the crisp trousers. Instead of thin, optic-white ankle jeans though, swap for a pair with some extra volume in a more substantial fabric, like heavy twill or wool.

Bright Button-Down + Contrasting Slacks

Bold color pairings can create a statement look from even the most simplistic silhouettes. Pick two complementary hues and wear one on top and the other on bottom, making sure to stick to pieces with sleek, classic lines. Wearing your shirt partially unbuttoned softens the intensity a bit, conveying an easy nonchalance.

Oversized Oxford + Relaxed Khakis

Oversized menswear is ideal for test-driving this styling trick. When you're wearing a boxy Oxford shirt and relaxed pleated chinos (preferably in a palette of quiet neutrals), do up just one or two buttons and leave the rest of the placket open or tucked back so a bit of skin shows. This will subtly define your shape and lend a touch of understated femininity to balance the edit.

Tropical Top + Classic Denim

Cool tropical prints might seem like something you ought to stow come September, but don't be so hasty to pack away your tourist threads. Wear a fun vacation print in richer, deeper colorways once fall hits, paired with your favorite blue jeans. If you need an extra layer up top, you can wear it over a slim-fit cardi without interfering with your two-button-maximum policy.

Leather Button-Down + Edgy Black Everywhere Else

Do the button-down trend with a downtown twist by incorporating edgy elements, like leather, raw denim, and chunky lug soles. The leather shirt sets things up to feel tough but still luxurious in a way no cotton or silk shirt could. The frayed black jeans and clunky shoes are very of-the-moment add-ons that perfectly complete the 'refined rebel' mood you've got going on here.

Heavy Work Shirt + Flowy Skirt

You can still wear your button-downs this way once the temperatures start to dip, just replace your shirt with something more heavy-duty, like a thick canvas work shirt or a wooly flannel style. These heftier textiles will keep you warmer than their flimsier counterparts, even when unbuttoned. Plus, they have a rugged, utilitarian appeal that looks especially cool when juxtaposed with a more feminine, fluid style on bottom.

Metallic Blouse + Silky Pajama Pants

Is there any better feeling than going out at night in something that's actually comfortable? Silky satin separates will have you feeling like you're wearing pajamas at the bar — in the best way imaginable. The fabric's metallic sheen keeps things looking a little dressier, and dinner-slash-drinks is an occasion when you can really lean into the sexiness of having only one button fastened.