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The Number of Shirt Buttons It’s Acceptable to Leave Unbuttoned

Beyond the classic quandary to tuck or untuck, the button-down shirt also brings with it another conundrum: How many buttons should remain unbuttoned? This is especially true at the dawn of summer when skin of any kind can seem more exposed than intended and everyone is showing a bit more of it in hopes of quickly turning their winter pastiness to Mediterranean bronze. And so, to kick off our Survival Guide to Memorial Day — a holiday long considered to be the unofficial start of summer — we enlisted certified Style Coach Rayne Parvis to help us understand better understand how low those shirt buttons should go.

The Air Tie: “Any shirt that’s buttoned all the way to the top is going to make you look a little closed off,” says Parvis. “I realize it’s a look for some hipsters, but for most guys, it can look constricting — and unless you have a very skinny neck, it can look as though your shirt is choking you. The more eccentric you are, the more you can get away with whatever floats your boat. But my suggestion is if you’re not wearing a tie, loosen that top button.”

The Single Down: “This is the most classic, foolproof version of how to wear your button-down shirt,” explains Parvis. “You’re not going to get anyone paying attention to your shirt, and it works with or without a blazer. It’s why most politicians leave one button undone. Because if you want people to pay attention to what you’re saying rather than your style or look, your safest bet is to go with the gold standard.”

The Double Down: “Obviously, this is more of a relaxed look,” Parvis explains. “It says you threw it on and walked out the door before checking yourself out in the mirror. I recommend the men in my life and my clients — especially if he has a lot of chest hair or if his chest hasn’t seen the light of day in forever — to opt for the Single Down instead. If you are gonna go with the Double Down, you should put on an undershirt. It’s more for being on vacation than in the office. And again, if you have a hairy chest and don’t manscape, it can be super distracting. It also can mean that you probably have too much hair down there. And anything that suggests your pubic hair is unkempt isn’t a good look.”

The Miami Yikes: “Anything beyond two buttons is too much 1980s Miami Vice,” says Parvis. “So only go this low if you’re on the beach or at home — alone.”