Top 5 of the week: My favorite button-downs

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My confinement wardrobe from the waist up is composed almost entirely of button-downs these days: even if I’m wearing my shlumpiest sweats, they make me feel marginally put-together when it comes time to make FaceTime and Zoom calls. One of the brands I like best is Xirena—this white top is a prime example of what they do well: it’s lightweight and nicely slouchy, with good details.

I also like Frank & Eileen a lot—this shirt is on the sturdier side, and is nicely tailored.

The brand Rails has a ton of button-downs, and I’m partial to this pink gauze number.

I love the oversized (but not sloppy) proportions of this one, from Stateside.

And if I’m in the mood to spend on something special, I head on over to Nili Lotan: the tuxedo details on this crisp shirt are just aces.

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35 Thoughts on Top 5 of the week: My favorite button-downs
    Bobby
    14 May 2020
    2:08pm

    Did you know that Nili Lotan is making pretty ten dollar face masks right now, with 100% of the profits going to NYU Langone medical center? https://www.nililotan.com/products/face-mask-4

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    Mindy
    14 May 2020
    9:08am

    Wearing a Xirena button down now, which you could easily say is part of my uniform. I really like Xirena and think they are good quality and fit me well. I really like Frank & Eileen’s button downs too. They are sturdy, feel good and look good. I think Gap does a solid job with button downs, except for the white ones, which are too sheer for my taste the past several years. I said my peace on Nili Lotan button downs a couple of weeks ago.

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      Viajera
      14 May 2020
      12:00pm

      I love the fabric on those Xirena pants (though I would probably not wear them).

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        Viajera
        14 May 2020
        12:01pm

        Maybe if the leg were full length…

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    Viajera
    15 May 2020
    10:41am

    I wonder if it would be easier to just buy a shirt that fits in whichever area is difficult … and then have it tailored? Would that work? … Woven blouses aren’t a priority for me because of the fit issues – and also I refuse to iron – but, they do look nice. And you need a woven when it’s hot! I know Nordy’s will tailor stuff you already have, or did before the evil virus. I imagine there could be issues created at the hem though. Maybe if they made the shirt extra long?

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    MarieP
    15 May 2020
    10:46am

    Tradlands button downs are my go-to. I carry my weight in my torso (back/boobs/belly and have broadish shoulders) and their 8-button style works perfectly for me to avoid boob-gap. I’m generally an 8 and I take an 8. They’re pricey so I wait for a big sale and stock up.

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    Sam
    14 May 2020
    11:05am

    Love a button down, but combination of curvy girl with broad shoulders has made finding shirts that fit almost impossible and (no offense) find it difficult to trust any of these from photos alone. If any curvier readers want to make suggestions about great-fitting button downs, I’m all ears!

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      joannawnyc
      14 May 2020
      11:15am

      Same problem here. I don’t know about fitted shirts, but there are a lot of oversize ones out there. They aren’t exactly what I want, but I have found a few that will do–LOFT, J.Jill, Bravissimo, J. Crew/Madewell.

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        Mindy
        14 May 2020
        1:17pm

        I probably have enough Madewell Central shirts to require an intervention.

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      themis
      14 May 2020
      6:48pm

      I’m curvy but with narrow shoulders, and button downs are largely tragic on me. I think they’re only throw-on-and-go for those lucky enough to be a B Cup and under. I can occasionally get one that’s cut wide enough at the collar to not make me look like a shelf of mammaries, but then I never really like what’s going on at the waist, either. They look great when open over a tank or cami, and at that point I’d rather be in a cardigan and skip the ironing anyway. I’ve sadly quit buying them and am staying with wrap tops and hippie girl blouses.

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        Jenny
        14 May 2020
        8:12pm

        I am way less than a B cup, but have broad shoulders and a short torso, so button downs rarely work for me either. And I have the yellowing and ironing issues mentioned below. Like blazers, black turtlenecks, and trench coats, button downs are super-stylish must have items that I aspire to to but can’t figure out. During quarantine I persist, because a collared shirt looks professional and no one can see the too short-too boxy-all wrong business happening between my bottom rib and hipbones.

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          themis
          14 May 2020
          9:03pm

          Maybe it’s the short torso thing that torpedos us, then-! Maybe these shirts are best for the long-waisted. I would very much love to pull these off.

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            liz
            15 May 2020
            3:36pm

            Very short torso also. And what about the too long sleeves?

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    Kay Erikson
    14 May 2020
    11:54am

    After hoarding White button downs for years, I have finally figured out that they need to be made of a fabric that doesn’t look better ironed. CP Shades “Romy” is my go to button down these days. Perfect in its combination of fitted/slouchiness. Is that a thing? Also available in lots of fabrics and colors. During SIP CP shades finally has on online shop! Another great small, local business to support. Everything is made in CA.

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      Jeanne
      14 May 2020
      5:54pm

      Ironing is on my list of top 10 hated chores. It’s led to a love/hate relationship with linen.

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      MaryAlice
      14 May 2020
      8:52pm

      I am so happy to hear they are still in business! Back in the late ’90’s, early 2000’s I used to get up at some ungodly hour once a year for their New Year sale – everything was on sale for whatever year it was – so everything in the store would be 19.99 or 20.00 and we’d all line up in front of their Santa Monica store for the 7 am opening!

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      Lori
      16 May 2020
      5:27am

      Oh my gosh — I wore a ton of CP Shades back in junior high (am 49 now), but had no idea they still existed! Thank you for the tip!

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    Mamavalveeta03
    14 May 2020
    11:46am

    Echoing what c.w. said about Frank & Eileen – when we met up one summer, we both had on Frank & Eileen button downs. A shirt has gotta be good when it works for all different body types (I’m “big boned”, c.w. isn’t). I’ve been wearing my F& E Lab Eileen in Navy with my sweats and leggings. It’s the knit version of the button down. My issue with button down shirts is finding one that fits well across my linebacker shoulders while not bagging around the middle.

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      Viajera
      14 May 2020
      12:04pm

      If you-all here like something, then it means something. I did just look at what I think was the F & E site, and … did I imagine it or does their sizing not use actual measurements? How does one order? I get that they aren’t supposed to be fitted, but still. Otoh, I guess they wouldn’t do it that way if it didn’t work. Hmm.

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        c.w.
        14 May 2020
        4:16pm

        Viajera, my Frank and Eileens are all Barry style which is slightly fitted––fits at the shoulders nips in ever so slightly at the waist. I’m a stumpy little flat chested 5’2″er so I wear the XS. One of the GREAT things about F&E is you are NOT suppose to iron them––they are suppose to be slightly wrinkled. And they look good that way!

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          Viajera
          15 May 2020
          10:34am

          i will check out one of those, c.w. – thanks!

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      c.w.
      14 May 2020
      4:11pm

      Crossing ALL my fingers I’ll get to see you this summer, Val, even though we have absolutely no fun at all and never have a single thing to talk about. 😉

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    Kimbersam
    14 May 2020
    12:33pm

    The only button-downs I am able to tolerate are the silk ones by Equipment (that don’t function well for WFH life). Oh-and there was that denim Current Eliot one I wore for an entire summer that would work but it just evaporated into thin air. Don’t you hate that? Clothing disappearance happens to me frequently. Anywhoo– here are my questions: Do you tuck? If so, is it a full tuck or a french tuck?

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    Viajera
    15 May 2020
    1:56pm

    Does anyone know/remember who makes lightweight denim? I thought I saw something about this, a while back. sorry for the tangent.

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    Peggy D
    14 May 2020
    4:17pm

    I’ve been an Ann Mashburn devotee for quite a while, but I’ve been intrigued by Frank and Eileen recently and thought about branching out a bit. What do you mean by sturdy? The fabric or the construction?

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      Viajera
      15 May 2020
      10:49am

      Is A M the line that makes a lightweight denim? Somebody here mentioned such a line, but it has slipped my mind. Have you tried the A M jeans? There is no photo of the pockets…

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    rachel in berkeley
    14 May 2020
    4:48pm

    I have a hard time spending lots of $$ on a white shirt that I will struggle to keep white, i.e. sweat stains, collar stains. The yellowing of white shirts is a thing. Is there a trick to this?

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    Jeanne
    14 May 2020
    5:51pm

    As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gravitated towards shirts with longer hemlines. I like to wear them untucked, something I disparaged when I was younger. I’m thinking I should look into shirtdresses that are a bit too short for me nowadays and wear them (or have them hemmed) as long shirts. Could we have a post on tunics? Thanks

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    c.w.
    14 May 2020
    7:44am

    Huge Frank & Eileen fan. Quite tempted by the Rails number. A lightweight gauze fabric is sounding ever so perfect given the Texas heat. I purchased a couple of the Gap’s Love forever tank tops (super soft and machine washable!) which I’m wearing under my unbuttoned button downs for zoom/facetime meetings. So this posting is right up my need-to-get-sorta-dressed alley!

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      MaryAlice
      14 May 2020
      12:11pm

      My experience with Rails has been that they are not well made. I have 2 of their soft flannel shirts, and after a couple of washes (on delicate, hang to dry) they began to disintegrate along the seams on the side and where the pocket was attached. At that price point I would expect better.

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        Mindy
        15 May 2020
        12:36pm

        Thanks, I’ve been tempted to try that brand and now I can resist.

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        c.w.
        14 May 2020
        4:18pm

        Thank you, MaryAlice, good to know.

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    Chris
    15 May 2020
    6:37am

    Echoing what the other self admitted curvy ladies above have said, I find it hilarious that none of the models have a cup size over A. I’m a DD now that I’m of a certain age, and finding a button down that goes across my chest and fits in the waist, armpits and shoulders is impossible.

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    Jax
    14 May 2020
    11:16pm

    That Xirena shirt is perfect to me — love the combination of crisp and slouch.

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Kim France

I was born in Houston, Texas in 1964 and have lived in New York City since 1988. I had a long career in magazines, working at Sassy, Elle, New York, and Spin, and in 2000, I founded Lucky magazine, which I edited for ten years.

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