Repurposing Your Button Down

Already mastered the art of the summer button down?  Let’s move on to fall, pumpkin spice latte basics.

Amelia once commanded that you never underestimate the power of a button down. She called it one of the most versatile garments a woman could own, honing in precisely on its ability to challenge the constructs of the direction in which you are supposed to button and let it live like a bipartisan, aptly buttoning both up and down. What she failed to mention, though, is that after you’ve accrued a large enough arsenal of the shirt style to veritably identify with the unsung heroes of high fashion: male high school teachers, the question of flexibility is presented.

Here we stand, taking for granted the covered shoulders and forward facing buttons and collars and matching bottoms extolled by our shirts as we wonder whether we’ll ever grow tired of what could become the wardrobe’s equivalent of almond milk. But to ask that question is to disregard entirely the notion that a shirt is not just a shirt. It’s an opportunity. It is an almond and a gallon of water. And vanilla beans. But you know what they say, right? Show don’t tell, so without much more ado, here are three ways to recycle your button down shirts (viva sustainability!).

Exhibit A: The off-the-shoulder technique

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This approach was first popularized by Man Repeller favorite Claire Beermann, who recognized the prevalence of off-the-shoulder blouses sprouting like peonies on a Pinterest board and took to her work shirt. I paired mine, by Equipment, with counter-stripe pants and an arm scarf and chain bracelet. I would call it structured pajama dressing if I wasn’t afraid to sound like a human bromide.

Exhibit B: The shirt-as-turtleneck

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Bear with me for a second here — I know that it looks exactly as though I’m wearing a button down backwards but that’s also because I am and if it is any consolation or might make you feel more comfortable about turning the mullet on its head, consider that Marni has been selling shirts to look like this for years. Poplin turtlenecks are not uncommon among high fashion designers but they are also not cheap. Why not do your part to save a penny, flip your shirt and then call your back The Great Reveal as though it is a new car?

Exhibit C: The skirt

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This shouldn’t look unfamiliar to you as the shirt-skirt is hardly a novel concept, but what you may have been remiss to consider is the notion that you don’t need to buy a shirt-skirt to get the look. You can quite simply re-appropriate the very same blouse and even opt in or out of a slit as high or low as your legs want to shine. I’m wearing a bathing suit with my chef-d’oeuvre plus a jean jacket. Now, who wants to go swimming?

Images by Krista Anna Lewis

Leandra M. Cohen

Leandra M. Cohen is the founder of Man Repeller.

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