28 Comments.

Quick tip for you guys: when you’re wearing a dress shirt without a tie, unbutton both the collar and the second button.

This is something I notice a lot. When guys let loose, they rip off that tie and unbutton the collar… and that’s it.

Don’t be afraid to unfasten one more button. Cmon, you can do it! I believe in you.

Why unfasten the two top buttons? Because if you only unfasten the collar, you look a tad stuffy, a bit closed up. You kinda look like you’re choking a little. Let that neck breathe!

Here are some common objections to undoing that second button:

My undershirt will show.

Okay, then wear a v-neck undershirt, or a deep v-neck undershirt if necessary. Or, grab an A-shirt. Whichever you decide to go with, they should all be heather grey, don’t forget.

I have a forest of chest hair that will be unleashed.

So? You’re a man, man. Let that rug of yours breathe. Nothing wrong with a little windswept chest hair.

If you’re still conscious of it, maybe you need to do some manscaping. Trim yourself with scissors, or grab a body hair wrangler and get to work! It’s okay if you need to tame your unwieldy body hairs. Your lady will love you for it.

I feel like Fabio if I have that many buttons unbuttoned.

Dude, be real. Unless you have a dress shirt with weirdly positioned buttons (or a majestic steed, or long flowing locks), you won’t look like Fabio. If anything, you’ll look less stuffy with one more button unbuttoned.

Two should be your max though, any more buttons unfastened and shit just gets weird.

Be aware that the position of the second button on a shirt depends on the shirtmaker. Some are positioned higher, while other shirts lower it a bit.

In any case, two buttons unfastened is the sweet spot when wearing a dress shirt with no tie.

That’s this week’s quick tip!

Are there any widely-accepted, yet potentially incorrect ways of wearing clothing that you wonder about? Feel free to leave these below; maybe we’ll use them in future quick tip articles.

Oh and, while you’re at it, why not join us on Facebook?

PUBLISHED December 19, 2011


Barron is the Founding Editor of Effortless Gent and the Cladright Association. He's from San Francisco but currently living in New York. Connect with him on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, or Tumblr.



  • Stefan

    I always unbotton the 2nd button, never wear undershirts and have been using the philips bodygroom for a while lol

    • Anonymous

      just remember: stretch and cut. always stretch.

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Sounds like you’re up to speed then :)

  • Dan

    Really, there are guys out there who don’t want to look like Fabio? What has this all been for, then?!!

    My widely-accepted, yet potentially incorrect way of wearing clothing that I wonder about: light-colored jeans. I still feel like a bit of a style newbie and even I’ve learned that they make you look like a soccer mom.

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Light colored jeans can be done, but dark just always looks better. Attached some examples of lighter denim looking pretty good.

      • Dan

        Dang, I’m a newb.

  • http://twitter.com/AStylishGinger Sean Fitzgerald

    I don’t agree with the chest hair point. I really don’t want to see your chest hair and neither do the women: 
    http://dappered.com/2011/07/one-or-two-unbuttoning-with-chest-hair/

    • Dan

      She doesn’t speak for all women. I’m just gonna go with “all women want me to look like Austin Powers.”

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      That’s why I mentioned the body groomer, if the shirt wearer is conscious of the body hair looking like a man carpet.

    • http://twitter.com/Arkhangael Angel

      a t-shirt under a nice shirt wouldn’t look nice either, unless it’s a v neck.. but then, where;s the point? the skin will still show.. aren’t we allowed to open our shirts?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christopher-Dravus/100000603880267 Christopher Dravus

    Great tip on the shirt. An open neck like that adds to the perception of casual and confident. One button gives the impression, to me at least, that the wearer just took his tie off. Two buttons lets me know unquestionably that this neck was never wearing a tie. 

    As for more articles I’d do something on skin care. I see a lot of guys in Chicago here getting their faces destroyed by the winter cold. 

    Great read as always. thanks.

    Christopher
    The-Approach.org

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Admittedly, skin care is something I don’t know much about, other than the limited number of things I use and do for myself. I’ll have to enlist the help of some friends w/ skin care sites and blogs. Thanks for the suggestion.

  • http://twitter.com/Arkhangael Angel

    i’m cool about the 2nd button needs to be freed, except my boss is against it.. so i simply put back a slim tie instead of looking like a fool..
    the only ways to swim around the shark is to wear button-down shirts, where the collar doesn’t fall open, and allows you to look cool without a tie. 
    or..
    my favorite, wearing a waistcoat, the best way to prevent my open shirt from revealing a torso no one apparently should see.
     
    the simplest thing remains to wear a (slim) tie. 
    @james_a_michael and sir mick jagger usually do the right thing the right way..

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      It really depends on the shirt. Most of my shirts look perfectly fine with the top two buttons unfastened. I’ve seen some shirts, however, that look disproportionately exposed when the second button is unfastened. In that case, yep, I’d keep a tie on.

  • Ronald Paek

    how many buttons would you say to unbutton for a polo shirt? im currently wearing jcrew ones they only have 2 buttons total i usually always unbutton one.

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      What do you personally feel comfortable doing? To me, it depends on how deep the neckline goes when everything’s unbuttoned. Most standard polos only go so deep, and I tend to not button any. Personal preference, though.

    • Jwedel1231

      The best rule I’ve eevr heard is to always unbutton 2 buttons on polos. If its got 2, don’t button either. 3? Leave one buttoned. 4? Buy a new polo, because those look kinda odd.

      • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

         That’s a good rule of thumb. I can second that.

  • Matt

    Except for the fact that I have ugly keloids on my chest that people can’t stop staring at haha..

  • Mike

    Shirt collars on the outside of sweaters!!!! Thats THE worst look ever.

  • restaurant manager

    I wear a collared shirt with a suit jacket for work. I unbutton the shirt only one button and keep my suit jacket closed. My collar often falls down under my jacket and I am forced to continually pop it up during the night. Is this because I don’t have enough starch or should I be buying better shirts? Please advise.

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      It’s probably because the shirt isn’t a true dress shirt with a stiff collar. Your shirt collar needs to be stiffer to sit upright and so it doesn’t fall underneath your jacket lapels.

  • Aaronlws

    Disagree completely on this. Most of the time, two buttons look sloppy, though it depends on the shirt. If you are at work, showing hair is beyond inappropriate. Showing too much undershirt also looks foolish.

    Better to not get a button down that has the top button up too high as that is often what gives a stuffy / need a tie look with only the top button undone.

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      It definitely depends on the shirt, though in most cases, the men who walk around with only the collar button unbuttoned look like they could use a little extra breathing room in the neck area. The placement of that second button is too high, and should be lower… or they could just unbutton it.

      If the second button is SUPER low, then it’s not always necessary. And you’re right, best to not get a shirt with the second button (the one right below the collar button) too high.

      • Truth Teller

        It sometimes seems a bit too open, dont you think? In a casual office environment, I think 1 might be ‘safer’. Then again I came here looking for advice.

        • http://effortlessgent.com/ Barron

          It really depends on the shirt. That second button isn’t always placed in the same spot. So with some shirts, two buttons undone (collar + one more) is perfect, while on others, it’s just way too open.

  • erock1

    I’d love to go 2nd button undone as I don’t need a tie for work attire but I do wear a dress shirt and slacks. only problem is I can’t find a v- neck undershirt that doesn’t show. I’ve tried Hanes, nautica, Calvin Klein, 2xist, uniqlo… none are deep enough in the V. any brands, suggestions or solutions? I still want to wear the undershirt and not a fan of wife beaters.

  • jonathanPorsche

    One tip bit or sage of advise I learnt from doing the two (sometimes even three buttons – in the hot Asian heat where I used to live!) was during the summer months when you would really want to wear an undershirt to fend of the sweat marks (but also in winter when the cold would set in). is to by just some of the thin plain cotton undershirts – I would normally just throw these away after a few months as after a few washes and also enduring 38+ degree heat they would be about ready to be classified and biological weapons!

    So once you have your undershirt on, and shirt over the top and suit/jeans all sorted and tucked. is then to un-zip/button the fly and just grab the nip of the undershirt directly below the belt buckle – keep it all central, and give a few tugs so it is creating a much deeper V in the neck. This actually also seems to make the front of the shirt sit nicer on the chest and stomach, and also prolongs the time it takes to get that “gathering” effect just above the belt line (if you spend all day walking around this seemed to happen quite a lot to me)

    then obviously remember to do your fly back up and enjoy the snug feel without buying one of those skin tight t-shirts that are just un-wholly unattractive!