Men's Shirt Button Etiquette

The way a suit is secured can say a lot about the wearer's professionalism.
The way a suit is secured can say a lot about the wearer's professionalism. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

The way a man wears his shirt can convey a great deal about his level of personal care and professionalism. There are many buttons typical on a formal men's ensemble, as well as a proper way to secure each. Following the dress etiquette rules can enable the man to present himself in a polished and professional manner.

Suit Buttons

Suit jackets are held closed by several buttons down the front center of the suit. The buttons typically vary between two, three and four, with different etiquette rules for each. For example, if you are wearing a suit with four buttons, the middle buttons must be secure while the top and bottom ones are left open. With a three-button suit, the top two buttons are secured and the bottom one is left open. With a two button suit, both buttons can be left open, according to

Button-Down Shirts and Ties

In a professional environment, a button-down shirt is often paired with a tie and a suit jacket. When worn with a tie, the highest button should be secured. This button keeps the collar firmly in place at the wearer's neck and helps keep the tie knot and tie itself from lying flat against the chest of the wearer. Although this is not the most comfortable option for wearing a button-down shirt, it looks professional and tidy.

Collar Buttons

According to, the term "button-down" does not refer to the buttons that cascade down the front of a shirt, securing it closed in front, but the buttons on the points of the shirt's collar that keep the collar secured down. If a shirt is equipped with these two small buttons on the collar, they must remain fastened. The buttons help keep the collar down and enable the tie beneath them to stay snugly in place.

Cuff Buttons

Men's professional shirts will also often come equipped with buttons at the cuffs of the sleeves. If present, these buttons must also be secured. These buttons keep the sleeves from looking loose and rumpled and enable them to remain sleek and neat beneath a suit jacket. In lieu of buttons, cuff links can also be worn to achieve this same neat and tidy effect.

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