The original request was specifically for white button-downs, and all the brands featured here make great ones. But I am not a skilled enough writer to come up with varied and creative descriptions of a bunch of items as essentially identical as classic white button-downs. So I broadened my search to include all button-downs, and a good place to start is Frank & Eileen, specifically with the Joedy shirt, a roomy boyfriend-cut number that comes in a number of good colors and weights.
I’ve never been disappointed in an Everlane button-down. The cotton is consistently high-quality, and I can always find a cut that works for me. Right now I’m liking this silky cotton striped number.
Nili Lotan makes divine (and, I know, stupidly pricey) button-downs, and I mostly buy them on resale sites. But very occasionally I’ll splurge on one, usually because it has something cool or interesting going on. Like this this perfectly slouchy tuxedo top. (Here’s simething similar and much, much cheaper).
J Crew offers a whole ton of decent button-downs, most of which go for a little under or over $100. I like this white one for times when I want my shirt to be roomy but not too roomy.
Xirena makes a fabulous button-down—great shape, lightweight but not so much so that it’s sheer, and in some fantastic color options, like this excellent purple.
I like how Alex Mill has fun with color and pattern, like on this cool shirt with contrasting stripes.
I go to Sezane when I’m looking for something in a floral, like this outstanding specimen.
And finally, I own Cali Dreaming’s perfect Ace shirt in four colors, and wear them endlessly.
I have a closet full of button down shirts, especially since I’ve been on the hunt for the “perfect” white button down for at least 20 years. Right now my favorite of the bunch is the “Deep End” shirt from AYR – it can be super casual or slightly more classic depending on how you style your outfit. But super comfortable and not crazy $.
Such a great group of shirts! I may have to go for that Frank and Eileen in the pale blue. Years ago I bought a tuxedo shirt even though I thought, at the time, that I would rarely wear it, but I was wrong––it’s one of the most useful shirts in my closet.
Amazing roundup of shirts! I dearly love a button up shirt and I want all of these, but most especially the Sézane. Anyone know if their sizing runs a tick small, like most Euro brands??
I don’t wear my tuxedo shirt enough, but a lot of my social life revolves around wine tastings and I’m a klutz so white always feels dangerous! I guess that’s what Wine Away is for, though.
I do find that their blouses run a touch on the smaller size. As for wine tastings, this Sezane floral blouse would be perfect because who would see a spill? My definition of a good going-out top allows for the inevitable spill!
With button-downs, the issue is always how well they accommodate the girls. Boyfriend cuts are usually a no-go for anything over a B cup—straining plackets and gaping in the center of the chest are not a good professional look. And oversized ones can look like a tent if you’ve got any volume up top. So any recommendations for work button-downs designed for curvier bodies?
Look at Universal Standard, Ellie. They’ve been doing more knits than wivens, but they cut for a bigger bust.
Gotta say I wish even one of these options was bust friendly, Kim. I know you personally don’t require, but I wish the reccs here felt more inclusive.
Seconding Universal Standard. They know that button placement is crucial to preventing the dreaded gap problem, and sometimes they even include a few strategically placed snaps for extra security.
Sorry about that, Sharona and Ellie, I’ve got a bit of a blind spot re: clothes for busty ladies. I’ll do better. Meanwhile, I’ve got a busty friend who takes her button-downs to the tailor to have the gap sewn shut.
I meant to add this. If I do find a shirt that fits well, is not tent-like, and perhaps DOES gap a little in front, I simply sew it shut between the two offending buttons. Yes, that means you have to put it on over your head and it looses the versatility of being worn open.
I have a larger bust for my frame and use the fabric tape to close the gap on my button downs. It works great and still gives me the option to wear open or closed as well as still get it off without having to pull it over my head. I buy it at CVS, etc…
I sew a hook and eye between the offenders. For those of you who are handy with needle and thread, I recommend it.
I share your befuddlement and I think maybe the unhappy truth is that if one has a large chest, then a woven top simply has to fit well – and making a shirt like that must be too expensive bc it appears that nobody does it. … … … What was mildly odd to me is that F&E have been described as making woven shirts for large sizes, but they must have given up on it? (I mean, their size charts – wt?? What even *is* that? Am I buying pantyhose?) So to be fair to Kim, I think maybe this doesn’t exist. … … … I don’t even bother with this category. They look nice on other people, I’m happy for them. If I want one, I’ll have to make my own or pay someone to make it.
I’m with you, Ellie. I often have to size up to accommodate my bust, and then the shirt looks like a tent. Honestly, if I see the shirt does not have bust darts, I don’t even bother any more. It’s one reason I steered away from Eileen Fisher’s great linens and silks, because her clothing is not cut for women with boobs. Is it because she herself is straight and petite? I often wonder.
I’ve had some luck with J.Crew’s curvy shirt (as well as their classic), also James Perse, J. McLaughlin and brands like L’Agence and Theory. It’s been super hard lately with everything going boxy… when models start to resemble Lego characters, you know it’s not a great look on mortals. And when you’re busty, I find that staying on the more fitted side is most flattering.
I am petite, short-waisted, and busty. I find the boxy cuts suit me well. If they go out of style, I’m in trouble.
Has the French tuck run it’s course? Please?
You could also try Wild Fang. They have well-placed buttons and no gap that i’ve experienced. They have a lot of wild prints but also classic white, chambray, and some smaller prints. They mainly sell short sleeve but also have some long sleeved shirts as well.
Ellie, I bought a white fitted button-down from a brand called PerfecteDD that is designed especially for larger busted women. The shirt isn’t cheap, but I love it! https://perfectdd.com/collections/d-cup-shirting-staples
I’m busty and often find that a bib blouse with 3-4 buttons at the top is a more flattering option for me. There are some really lovely pintuck and tuxedo bib blouse options out there, often from pretty reasonably priced places!
Ooh, I do love the look of a tuxedo bib …!
Ditto. 32G here, with a narrow back but big boobs. I can’t tell you how many shirts gape on me. Sigh. I have taken to buying them a size larger and having them taken in, if the shoulder fits right. I just got a roomy white shirt at Uniqlo that’s pretty darn good. Some Frank & Eileen shirts work for me and Xirena seems to run roomy enough that I can wear them in a small. But fashion tape is my friend!
Try The Shirt by Rachel Behrens , many options; often with some stretch that helps – they ingeniously have extra buttons hidden behind placket –
Very well made .
I completely misspelled her name…
Love these! If my wallet could handle it, I would order the Sezane shirt in every pattern!
Would love to buy Frank&Eileen Shirts, but ist’s a Hustle with all that Shipping Costs, Taxes etc.
I Like the Shirts from WNU “With Nothing Underneath”. Great fit, natural fibers and moderate prices.
Love this line-up. I’ll add a plug for J Crew shirts for those of us with long arms–some of their shirts come in a tall size that fits great! For floral shirts, I also love Doen (but it is pricey, for sure). Their poet blouse cut might also work on a bustier figure because it is not huge over all but has a lot of volume in the chest area.
I’ve purchased multiple button downs from JCrew and I can confirm that the classic fit and oversized fits have plenty of room for the girls (I’m DDD) without gaping.
relaxed fit i mean.
I’m another DDD who would love more bust-friendly suggestions.
I really like Sarah Alexandra shirts, which are also a little pricey but fit beautifully. I’ve had good luck finding them on eBay and other resale sites.
I really don’t mean to sound fussy and pedantic, but as a student of fashion history I can’t let it go. For some reason the term button-down is being used these days to describe any shirt with front buttons. A button down shirt is actually only a shirt where the collar points are held down to the shirt by buttons. The only true button down here is the J.Crew shirt. (Originally designed for polo players, to keep the shirt collar from flapping in the rider’s face)
Class dismissed 🙂
I was aware of the distinction (although, is it better to say button up or button front??), but I never knew the reason for the button down collar…thanks, very interesting!
Vanessa Friedman (NYT) recently explained this in a column.
I emailed her and thanked her for explaining this, and how the misuse of the term drives me crazy, and she responded that I’d made her day 🙂
Oh thank god someone finally said this! I am in the uk (I also studied history of fashion) and no one would ever call a regular shirt with a buttoning placket a ‘button down’ and as much as I love this blog and ‘I want to be her’ the whole ‘button down’ thing drives me bonkers!
Thank you for this! Every time I hear button-down I have to do a mental shift and think, “No, they don’t really mean a shirt with a button down collar, but one that buttons up the front.” Maybe it’s because I am old!
Fantastic round up, as usual. I realize looking at this list that many of these brands are Kim France faves, and how, over the years of reading this blog, I’ve tried out nearly all of them because of GOACA! Thank you, Kim.
How does the Ace shirt run? I’m a 34 DD….roughly a 10-12? I’m thinking a large (as usual), but it looks billowy
AYR makes nice button up shirts and LiLy Silk makes nice silk shirts.