Back In Action: Brooks Brothers Revives Third Collar Button

This spring/summer season I noticed a plethora of back buttons on the collars of sport shirts at 346 Madison Avenue. It’s one of those small details from the Ivy heyday that it’s easy to laugh off as a trivial furbelow, until you see how immediately noticeable it is.

Like everything in menswear, the third collar button originally served a utilitarian purpose: It kept your necktie from slipping, back when ties were so skinny they’d fit between button and the collar fold. The detail was probably inspired by the days of detachable collars, which were secured by a button in the back.

When Brooks Brothers eliminated the third button from its shirts in the late ’60s, probably because ties had become too wide for the button to serve its purpose, old-school customers were furious and started stockpiling the last remaining third-button shirts, according to a Brooks spokesman.

Today the third button is offered as a novelty on alpha-sized sportshirts, both short and long-sleeved. Grab the spring/summer ones now while they’re on sale, or wait for the new fall shirts, a sampling of which is pictured above. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD

21 Comments on "Back In Action: Brooks Brothers Revives Third Collar Button"

  1. That’s very cool news.

  2. I’m cold on the third button. It looks bad and only fits with very thin widths… like a bow tie. The clean collar band needs no interruption on the back of the neck. I say leave it alone.

  3. @Yankee

    I’m sure there will still be a plethora on non-back-button shirts available from Brooks.

  4. Richard Meyer | July 8, 2011 at 2:27 pm |

    Non-iron made in Malaysia??

  5. Christian | July 8, 2011 at 2:30 pm |

    The third button is on a wide range of shirts, few of which I think are non-iron.

    No idea where they’re made, though, for those whose purchases are driven more by patriotism/ideology rather than details like third buttons.

  6. Is it only on Clifford collar shirts?

    Club Monaco has had the third button going on for years, I love it.

  7. Christian | July 8, 2011 at 3:24 pm |

    Isn’t the Clifford only for dress shirts? These are all alpha-sized sportshirts.

  8. Old New England | July 8, 2011 at 9:07 pm |

    Old-school Brooks Brothers customers don’t wear “sportshirts”; they wear solid colored OCBDs, with the slevees rolloed up, if necessary.
    When they’re feeling daring, the might opt for a University Stripe OCBD (Item No. 002E).

  9. Old New England | July 8, 2011 at 9:11 pm |

    Old-school customers don’t wear “sportshirts”; they wear solid colored OCBDs, with the sleeves rolled up, if necessary. When they’re feeling daring, they might opt for a University Stripe OCBD.

    (Old-school customers shouldn’t forget their reading glasses when they’re spelling “sleeves”, “rolled”, and “they”).

  10. Quick question, are putting the third button on regular button down shirts as well as the Clifford collar this fall?

  11. Richard Meyer | July 9, 2011 at 9:57 am |

    Agree entirely with Old New England.

  12. Glad I’m not so old that i’m afraid of anything slightly more “daring” than a University Stripe!

    Wallpaper has it’s uses, but it’s nice not to be become one with it.

  13. Looks as though there’ll be no third buttons on OCBD dress shirts for fall. My sales associate says it’s a ” Made To Order” option, along with locker loops.

  14. For those of us who affect bow ties, the third button is more than an affectation. It is crucial.

  15. Christian | July 9, 2011 at 3:19 pm |

    Please elaborate further, Mr. Squeeze.

  16. I take issue with Yankee-Whiskey-Papa who notes that the third button collar fits with “only with very thin widths such as bow ties.” Even 4 inch width ties carry a narrow band in the mid length of the tie less than 2 inches at the neckband that passes through the back collar, so he is correct regarding the overtly narrow backside of a bow tie that often accommodates a back strap set-in to rework the length of the bow tie, but mistaken with the comfort zone of a wide tie back band which still works with a back button. A bow tie worn with a Brooks no button on the back collar, unless tied tight enough to strangle, causes unsightly slippage of the bow tie which wanders beneath bottom of the collar.

  17. Chatsworth Osborne Jr. | July 10, 2011 at 1:45 pm |

    Mr Squeeze is correct. Bow ties knots often end up looser around the neck, and they have almost no weight or bulk to keep them in place. The portion under the collar is under an inch wide without a substantial lining for heft. The rear button keeps the back from slipping down too far, and additionally adds some collar tension, adding more fabric on fabric friction.

  18. What about locker loops?

  19. sambarock | July 11, 2011 at 5:57 pm |

    Third button and LOCKER LOOP, always!
    Also don’t forget about the (real) collar roll. Collars you can’t even even put a finger under are pointless, why even bother having it button down?

  20. Need to know | April 10, 2015 at 2:47 am |

    What type of style is the collar called ?

  21. Pocket Square | January 3, 2020 at 4:16 pm |

    Finding this conversation a few years late. Felt the need to mention in response to Old New England comments on ‘sports shirts’ lets not forget brands like Viyella which celebrated their 125 anniversary this year(2019) and also Alan Paine. Both have been making popular sports shirts for generations.

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