Somewhere in Time: Back to the Button-Down

The currents of change move slowly in menswear; there is always time, as TS Eliot put it, “to murder and create.”

Adherence to this adage may result in innovation, but more often than not the target of “murder” and the object of creation are one and the same. In short, menswear does away with certain items only to resurrect them a few years later.

In “Back to the Button-Down,” a 1972 trendspotting article by Time Magazine, the button-down collared shirt was one such item declared dead and then summarily revived. This piece dismisses the validity of the original (“found only at stubbornly conservative shops like Brooks Brothers”), in favor of the revamped, designer version of the button-down pioneered by Bill Blass. This new button-down for the new man of 1972 features longer collar points, vivid patterning, and is designed to be worn with the more fashion-forward suits of the era.

But it is Brooks, not Blass, who gets the final word, refuting the skeptics with evidence of strong sales in the old-school variety of oxford shirts. Now, as the button-down undergoes a second (or third or fourth) resurgence, the Brooks Brothers of 1972 provides a sound example to follow, bucking the “classic revival” trend by remaining simply classic. Its vice-president at the time, Ashbel T. Wall, says it best: “It’s nice to know you’re right.” — ZACHARY DELUCA

Image from O’Connells

5 Comments on "Somewhere in Time: Back to the Button-Down"

  1. Good find. It traces the roots of 70s Preppie revival.

  2. MacMcConnell | February 20, 2019 at 3:32 pm |

    The O’Connell’s image is either a Gitman or their copy of one. They sell both.

  3. The OCBD is the anchor of Ivy and Prep style. All other shirting descends from there.

  4. The best OCBDs that I have found are Drake’s – made in Somerset, England with a fabulous collar roll and mother of pearl buttons. Brooks’ are nowhere near that quality. Mercer uses plastic buttons too. With the Pound being weak due to Brexit nerves in the financial markets, now is a good time to take advantage of Drake’s 3 shirt bundle for £345 – Bleeding madras BD shirts will be in stock for the summer.

  5. Pinpoint Trad | February 21, 2019 at 2:50 pm |

    Am I the only one who can’t see the illustrations?

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