The Classic White Button-Down Shirts That Are Anything But Basic

The tops are the ultimate versatile wardrobe staple.

You can’t go wrong with a white button-down shirt. Julia Cherruault for Observer

There are few wardrobe pieces that are quite as timeless and versatile as the white button-down shirt. Much like a classic pair of sneakers, classic denim and little black dresses (or LWDs!), a white button-down top is a true style staple. It’s one of those powerhouse items that can be just as appropriate in an über-professional setting as for a casual day running errands, or for a chic dinner out with friends, all depending on how you decide to style the trusty white button-down of your choice.

Sign Up For Our Daily Newsletter

By clicking submit, you agree to our <a rel="noreferrer" href="">terms of service</a> and acknowledge we may use your information to send you emails, product samples, and promotions on this website and other properties. You can opt out anytime.

See all of our newsletters

White button-downs are also one of the few items in your closet that are truly seasonless. During the warmer months, you can throw on a gauzy linen version with cut-offs, a skirt or a minidress (or even as a beach cover-up), and when it cools down, button-downs look so good with a leather jacket or as a light layer.

Subscribe to Observer’s Lifestyle Newsletter

There’s also so much variety with white button-downs. Yes, there’s the traditional crisp, cotton, fitted silhouette, of course, but there’s also an abundance of options when it comes to fit, fabric and silhouette, whether you’re in the market for an oversized boyfriend shirt vibe, a short-sleeved button-down, a silky blouse or a cropped cotton look.

You can layer a button-down over a cute summer dress, wear it with a tailored skirt or tuck it into your favorite pair of jeans, for a peak Americana aesthetic. There are endless options for styling a white button-down, which is why this particular piece of clothing is a must when it comes the perfect streamlined packing edit — just think of all the possibilities you get from this one item!

Now that you’re surely convinced of just how much you need a fresh white button-down, check out the multitude of options below, with everything from a lace-trimmed short-sleeved blouse and an oversized linen camp shirt to a loose cotton style and a classic preppy Oxford.


Boden Linen Shirt

A breezy linen button-down is key during the summer, as not only is the fabric ideal for the steadily climbing temperatures, but you can style it so many different ways, like with your favorite denim shorts or over your favorite cropped tank — buy it oversized and you could even wear it as a beach cover-up. You can’t go wrong with Boden’s simple front pocket version. $85, Boden.


Ba&sh Ariel Fluid Shirt

This 1970s-inspired top is a feminine and stylish alternative to the basic button-down, if you want to add a little flair to your outfit. It has a petite ruffle-trimmed collar, with voluminous sleeves and a loose fit. Pair it with a chic moto jacket in the fall, or with a pretty flowy skirt in the summer. $195, Ba&sh.

Rag and Bone.

Rag & Bone Reed Linen Blend Shirt

I was once one of those people who refused to wear any form of short-sleeved button-down, but I’ve since realized that it all comes down to the fit of these camp-style shirts. This oversized version from Rag & Bone has cuffed sleeves that hit right at the elbow, and it’s at the top of my wish list right now. Wear this with your favorite classic denim, or with a pair of leather leggings. $275, Rag & Bone.


Levi’s Mimi Blouse

Okay, this might just be one of our favorite playful takes on the traditional button-down, thanks to the oversized, lace-trimmed collar cropped sleeves. $79.50, Levi’s.

Each x Other.

Each x Other Pleated Poplin Shirt

The pleated accents on this crisp, bright white Oxford shirt offer a unique twist on a menswear-inspired silhouette. $242, The Outnet.


Ayr The Deep End 

Looking for that elusive, just-oversized-enough aesthetic? Try this Ayr button-down, for a polished yet casual look. $135, Ayr.


Donni Bubble Shirt

This flowing blouse feels like you’re wearing a very elevated pajama top, because comfort and style can, in fact, go hand in hand. $187, Donni.

The White Company.

The White Company Linen Relaxed Shirt

As you may have noticed, linen is a big theme here, because nothing says summer like a breezy white linen shirt. This style is loose and relaxed, but tailored enough that it won’t swallow up your entire shape. $83.40, The White Company.


Gauge81 Illion Blouse

Yes, this spotless top is very work-appropriate, but it also happens to look incredibly fashionable all on its lonesome, as a mini shirtdress for a more daring ensemble. $345, Gauge81.


DL1961 Candice Blouse

This absolutely darling little button-down has the cutest balloon sleeves, and hits just above the waist, for a subtle crop. Pair it with high-waisted pants or a pencil skirt if you want to keep it business-appropriate. $149, DL1961.


Monrow Relaxed Blouse

This 100-percent cotton top is the epitome of effortlessly cool dressing. $128, Monrow.


Cuyana Poplin Overlay Shirt

This pristine, just slightly oversized blouse is sure to be a favorite for the ultimate minimalist. $125, Cuyana.


Theory Linen Shirt

You can’t go wrong with any of Theory’s classic button-downs, liked this fitted linen top with a perfectly pointed collar. $101, The Outnet.


Frame Gillian Top

This delicate, sheer, short-sleeved button-down is giving off serious Parisian girl vibes, in the best way possible. The ruched sleeves and high, collarless neckline are so chic. $348, Frame.

Universal Standard.

Universal Standard Canna Hi-Low Shirt

Sometimes, you want to wear a top that looks super professional and put-together, but you also want to be as comfy as possible, which is where this stretchy button-down comes into play. $44, Universal Standard.

The Classic White Button-Down Shirts That Are Anything But Basic