Welcome to How to Style it—a once-monthly series where our Senior Fashion Editor Danielle Naer breaks down one hero item, five different ways. First up: How to style a white button down.
As a fashion editor, I'm always keeping my eyes peeled for those versatile garments that will get tons of extra wear in my closet. Chief among them? The white button-down. It wasn't always this way—somewhere along the lines of easing back into my usual routine, the staple piece (which was once reserved for boardrooms and black tie events) has found a new lease on life in my post-pandemic wardrobe. Packing for a day at the beach? I'll use a white button-down as my no-fuss bikini topper. How about a night out? The crisp blouse will tone down my loudest micro mini skirts. My entire wardrobe revolves around the garment; it subsists on the pared-back simplicity it brings to every look.
Here's the proof:
When creating this five-part series, my original list was more than 15 outfits long, each with its own verve and purpose. That said, these looks are only the beginning; a distilled-down glimpse at the top's limitless potential. Once you secure a blouse of your own, you'll quickly discover dozens of button-down outfits that call on pieces from your own closet. Think of it as fashion's greatest canvas—one that requires little to no effort to pull off. (Apart from taking it to and from the dry cleaner, that is.)
Before exploring each look, you'll want to get familiarized with my end-all, be-all button-down of choice: Anine Bing's Mika Shirt.
Meet the Button Down: Anine Bing Mika Shirt
While I have a bevy of oxfords in my arsenal, Danish brand Anine Bing's white button-down is my uncontested favorite. With structural sleeves and elongated cuffs, this blouse finds a coveted middle-ground between boxy and tailored button-down styles. Translation? It's as fitting for the boardroom as it is for your run to the grocery store. You won't wince at the cost, either—the top goes for the sensible price point of $179. To me, spending hundreds of dollars on a delicate white garment ultimately defeats the purpose—you don't want to be too nervous to wear it! It's an Anine Bing promise: luxe basics without the splurge, and this blouse cements it.
Without further adieu, explore my top five ways to wear a button-down ahead.
Explore 5 White Button-Down Outfits
1 / 5
For the Office: Tank, Trousers, & Leather Tote
As a WFH-until-further-notice editor, my workspace oscillates from a home office in the West Village to a nearby WeWork. I've developed a tried-and-true outfit formula for this hybrid model (spoiler: it's based on Kendall Jenner's viral button-down outfit). It involves a simple black tank top, a pair of darted trousers from The Row, and a team of sleek black leather accessories. I like to think of this as my clean-slate outfit—it's soothing and orderly in the very best way. Unlike anything else in my closet, this ensemble knows how to bring a sense of calm to a frenetic work week.
For those in more buttoned-up office environments (pun intended), simply fasten and tuck your button-down into your trousers, and toss on a blazer for meetings.
2 / 5
For the Café: Cashmere Sweater, Ankle Socks & Loafers
The best way to reinvent a button-down is with a sweater, and the best way to reinvent a sweater is with a button-down. There is no in-between. For a smart, stylish look—one that will make you want to sink your nose into a book at your nearest coffee shop—enlist your favorite cashmere pullover (mine is from The Row) and grab your trusty Chanel Flap Bag. While the Gossip Girl reboot is ushering the return of truncated skirts, it's okay if minis aren't your thing. Simply tie in a pair of straight-leg jeans, and voila—your look is now autumn-appropriate, too. Double down on your display of smart layering with a pair of socks and loafers.
3 / 5
For the Corner Store: Bike Shorts, Sneakers, & Sweatshirt
Have pilates at 5, but need to stop at the grocery store before it closes at 6? This button-down look will help you get from A to B in a flash. On their own, activewear sets can feel a bit threadbare, so I started taking my button-downs to and from the gym with me. Having that extra layer to sink into as I embark on my post-workout errands just feels right. To get the look, throw the blouse over your workout set (my favorite label is—and probably always will be—Alo Yoga), and tie a sweatshirt around your shoulders. After all, we all know how brisk the aisles of Whole Foods can get.
Quick note on sneakers: you'll rarely see me in anything that isn't New Balance's buzzy 990 silhouette, and for good reason. The dad shoe went viral in 2020 (more on that here), and I still haven't found a more versatile, workout-friendly option. Add a fashion-forward note to the sporty look with Marc Jacobs' miniature canvas Tote Bag, which fits all of my essentials (wallet, keys, mask, sanitizer) and can be toted crossbody or by hand.
4 / 5
For the Beach: Bikini, Ribbed Skirt, & Straw Bags
Whether heading out to the Hamptons or taking the ferry to Rockaway for the day, my beach uniform is pretty consistent: a bikini, button-down, and ribbed skirt accessorized with platform sandals and one of my revolving pairs of sunglasses. As for my bottoms, I'll occasionally sub in a pair of paperbag denim shorts, but skirts add that hint of polish that I crave in my wardrobe. I got this Paloma Wool style from my favorite concept store, 8vo Ático—and much like the button-down of the hour, it's been a repeat-favorite in my closet all season long.
As for accessories, Jacquemus' Mini Chiquito bag keeps my lip balm and credit card within reach (for whipping out at the first sight of beachfront cocktails, that is), while a larger straw bag can handle all the rest. My tote is a sold-out style from Zimmermann's Resort 2020 collection, but Loewe's basket bag is a like-minded must-have from this season. Overall, the white button-down finds common ground between all of the moving pieces in this look. Tie it across your waist for long walks on the beach or leave it open while sunbathing.
5 / 5
For Dinner & Drinks: Mini Skirt, Shoulder Bag, & Strappy Heels
Friday nights in New York can only mean one thing: dinner, drinks, and lots of dancing. In the event of all three, you're guaranteed to spot me in a white button-down and my favorite going-out heels from Bottega Veneta. The top is breathable enough for bustling cocktail lounges, while the sandals have made it onto my comfy heels shortlist after withstanding countless hours of on-foot fun. As for the rest of the look, I like to change it up. Sure, leather pants can be fun, but I tabled them this season in favor of the micro mini skirt movement—specifically, Scarlet Sage's floral skirt. After popping up on Kendall Jenner in the spring, the satin silhouette has gone viral. To amplify the skirt's bursts of purple and green, I went with Kate Spade's nylon shoulder bag in a vibrant emerald hue.