Thomas Jefferson wrote:
betasteve wrote:Fact: If you want want to be known as having any idea about men's business wear, you'd never but a tie on with a button down collar.
I'm not disagreeing that that's how you'll most likely come off to most people. As I admitted outright, I wouldn't wear one to an interview. I'm more asking why they're regarded as such. I've always found them to give a very reserved look, so I'm curious as to why they're almost taboo, sorta like black suits (which I agree are a no-go).
They're sport collars. You wear them to play polo. Back in old-timey England, wearing one to the office under your jacket would be like wearing a bright orange golf shirt under a suit to work today in the US.
In the 1890s, Brooks Brothers introduced a line of mens shirts based on the British polo shirt in America to go with its new off-the-rack sack suits. The suits could come off the rack ready to wear by anyone without tailoring, and the button down collars were appealing because they didn't flap around or become misshapen with wear.
It's worth remembering that, up until the 1950s, Brooks Brothers was quite considered quite common and gauche amongst the well-heeled in New York. A lawyer would get his suit from his tailor, and would have his custom made traditional dress shirts, with collars either stiffly starched after each wearing by the servants, or-if he had real money-with whalebone or brass collar stays.
The common man-an insurance salesman in a Manhattan office building, say-would go to Brooks Brothers and purchase a sack suit off the rack and a button-down collar shirt that needed nothing more than a good ironing between wearings to remain presentable (perhaps the insurance salesman's wife was too busy with the kids to forever be washing shirts, measuring bluing, and soaking collars in starch solutions, and he couldn't afford a bunch of whalebone collar stays).
The lawyer would know that the insurance salesman was a mere commoner, but that was okay. At least he made the effort, so, sure, I'll buy insurance from him.
In the 1950s, the Brooks Brothers-style button-down-collar shirt caught on in the suburban department store, and millions of Americans with newfound disposable income and shiny new Studebakers flocked to the local J.C. Penney and Co. haberdashery department to buy their sack suits and button-down-collared-shirts so they had some nice Sunday-go-to-meetin' garb. All the baby-boomers saw their dads and grandfathers wearing this stuff, so they got the impression that it was every bit as formal as anything else, so they started wearing it themselves. We all saw them, and it continues.
While all this was going on, the powers-that-be continued not paying attention to what the commoners were doing at Sears, and continued on with their point collars. Plastic collar stays and $1.50 dry cleaners now exist, so there is no longer any reason for any prospective powers-that-be to be caught dead in button-down-collared dress shirts, especially at an interview.