I once called button down shirts the wardrobe equivalent of almond milk with no other qualifier to serve as explanation, which I realize now is that the shirt is a wardrobe staple (like almond milk is, you know, a chia pudding staple). I hate using phrases like “wardrobe staple” because who’s to say what’s really in your closet, and furthermore that someone else should prescribe what should be in your closet?
For all of us, button downs are accessible. If we don’t own a version, someone nearby (brother? Best friend? Dad?) certainly does. And they’re easy: I can’t think of a single circumstance whereby wearing one is inappropriate. (High impact cardio fitness notwithstanding.) But they’re also kind of boring because they’re so damn obvious — how many times will I button this up and down before it finally does something new? — so to eclipse last May’s episode of How to Repurpose Your Button Down, I give you three new ways to wear one.
1. As a One-Shoulder Shirt
Protagonist button down — another here, Samantha Pleet jeans, Castañer espadrilles, Gucci sunglasses, Etsy basket
This is actually much easier than you might think: all you have to do is slip your arm into one arm hole and then fasten a button just above your boob on the other side of the shirt. Wrap the empty arm hole around your waist and fasten one more button hole with one of the buttons from the sleeve. Then throw your hair into a combover and tell your friends you’re here for the free white wine spritzers. (Proceed to take some home in your $30 basket.)
2. As a Dramatic Tube Top
Isa Arfen shorts, Lane Marinho shoes
I understand that this one works better for women with smaller chests if you’re worried about support, but anyone can try this over a bathing suit next time you’re at the beach. All you have to do is make like you’re about to tie your shirt around your waist and then instead tie it around your boobs. Voila!
3. As a Cape
Gucci dress, Dries Van Noten sandals
One might argue that I obliterated this dress by turning a shirt into a cape around my neck but I prefer “enhanced.” After all, you don’t know what’s happening on my back. Maybe this cape is the only way I’ll feel comfortable wearing “elevated” spaghetti straps. Or maybe simply speaking, I just don’t like when you can see my neck. This provides a solution for that. Also: The cape gives me wings. As in, I fly.
Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis.