Why sleeveless button down shirts are a taboo
Men’s shirts are one of the most important fashion items when it comes to menswear. They are a part of the classic image that composes the typically masculine suit; they make men look structured and sophisticated and they give an overall masculine and powerful vibe to the man wearing them. This is why it is very important for men to know how to pick and choose a button down shirt.
There are not very many variations on the classic dress shirt. Basically, there are very formal shirts, business shirts and casual shirts which have different degrees of casualness, but there is one type of shirt that is almost never talked about or present in fashion.
The sleeveless button down shirt is a combination between a classic dress shirt and a muscle top is an item that is rarely present in the common fashion consciousness. We do see it on the runways now and then and sometimes it even makes its place in other areas of visual culture, but otherwise it’s something that is considered a rather big “fashion no no”.
The reason for this is two-fold. On the hand, there is a practical aspect, a sleeveless button down shirt is an item that is quite complicated to categorize, meaning that people don’t really know where to include on the fashion spectrum. Is it a casual item and, if so, what do you wear it with; or can it be considered a dress item if it has the cut and fabric of a dress shirt?
The other possible reason why we don’t really get to see so many sleeveless button down shirts in culture is because we live in a society where the primary mindset is of a female nature, where often masculinity and men are seen as disturbing; and an item focusing on a body part that is in a way very much related to masculinity, meaning showcasing strong arms is taboo. Think about it this way: sleeveless dress shirts are similar to a woman wearing a deep cleavage.
But then does it mean that you should not wear a sleeveless button down shirt? Of course, these reasons are not enough for men to stop wearing sleeveless button down shirts; however, they do make it harder for men to incorporate them in their outfits, given that there is little discussion on them and visual inspiration.
How to wear a sleeveless shirt
The first thing you need to consider when wearing a casual sleeveless button down shirt is that it is a casual item. Therefore, you can only wear it on a casual occasion such as a walk in the park, a night fair, traveling and so on.
Also, this means that the best items to pair it with are other casual items such as chinos and khakis or even shorts. However, it needs to be noted that wearing shorts with sleeveless button down shirts is not necessarily the best look, given that you will be exposing a lot of your arms and your legs and a good look is a look that has a balance between covered areas and open areas. In other words, if you show your arms you should probably cover your legs and vice versa.
In terms of shoes, sleeveless button down shirts certainly go well with dressier sneakers or very casual dress shoes such as certain types of slip on shoes. The reason for this is obviously because these are the equivalent of the button down sleeveless button down shirt, meaning they are play on a classic, elegant item. In fashion it is always important to be cohesive which means that you should always strive to have pieces that are from the same area, visually speaking.
The rule to go by for a safe bet is that sleeveless button down shirts should be worn on casual occasions and with other casual items, but this does not mean that there that you should never try to breaking the rules and create a, what we call “high and low outfit” meaning an outfit that combines casual pieces such as sleeveless button down shirts with some more formal items.
Ultimately, just because some people consider them to be “douchey” doesn’t necessarily mean that they are. These shirts can give you a lot of freedom to move, they can add structure to your look and, if you find a versatile piece, they can easily be part of many looks. Of course, there are some things you should avoid when it comes to wearing sleeveless button down shirts such as the fact that wearing them with a vest would probably not make the best look given that you would be wearing to sleeveless items on top of each other and also that a jacket such as a blazer or sports jacket, does not generally look good with a sleeveless button down shirt.
Ultimately, sleeveless button down shirts are great: they are masculine, fun and can convey a strong message. And in the end, this is what all menswear should be.
Fraquoh and Franchomme
P.S. We want to hear from you! What do you think of sleeveless shirts in general and sleeveless button down shirts? Should they become a bigger thing? Why or why not? Share your feedback, questions or thoughts in the comments below! For more articles on style, fashion tips and cultural insights, you can subscribe to Attire Club via e-mail or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!