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history Button-down collars

Oxford shirts with button-down collars were introduced at the turn of the 20th century. The style was inspired by the extra buttons that had been sewn on to British polo players’ outfits, to prevent the collar from flapping in the face when riding.

History Button-down collars

Photo: Getty Images

Button-down shirts were first known as ‘polo shirts’, marketed by an American East Coast clothing company from 1900 onwards. The name and style was inspired by an alteration made to shirts used by British polo players. To prevent the collar points from flapping in the rider’s face, buttons had been sewn on to secure them to the shirt.

At the time of the style’s introduction, shirts were generally collarless so that a separate, starched collar could be washed or replaced without unnecessary tear on the rest of the garment. The ready-made ‘polo shirts’ were made from soft Oxford cloth and featured an un-detachable, unlined collar that fastened with buttons at each tip. These more casual shirts became popular with college students and for use in casual sports.