Top button etiquette can be made more confusing than it needs to be. Although there aren’t any “rules”, there are a few general principles you should always stick to. So, should you button the top button of a shirt when wearing a tie?
It’s generally always a good idea to keep your top button fastened when wearing a tie as you’re likely to be attending a relatively formal setting. This keeps you looking presentable and gives off a better first impression.
Although that’s the short answer, there’s a bit more to it than that.
Read on as we explore the reasons why you should keep the top button fastened when wearing a tie, as well as a couple of potential exceptions to the rule.
3 Reasons Why You Should Button The Top Button When Wearing A Tie
As we’ve already briefly explained, it’s a good idea to keep that top button done up when wearing a tie.
1. It’s More Presentable
It goes without saying that a shirt and tie are usually reserved for more formal occasions.
A wedding, a cocktail reception, a day at the Races or even meeting a client are all great reasons for busting out this timeless combination.
As these can be important social events, you will be wanting to look your best. Keeping your top button fastened, tie looking neat and your shirt tucked in are three easy steps anyone can do to make themselves as presentable as possible.
Nobody likes a scruff, especially when meeting new people.
2. Makes You Feel More Confident
It’s no secret that when you love what you wear, you naturally ooze confidence. The same can be said for when you are wearing a shirt and tie with the top button done up.
I’m sure most men would agree that there’s just something about putting on a freshly ironed, buttoned-up shirt and tie that makes you feel important. It projects the feeling of authority, giving you a confidence boost.
Perfect for wedding receptions where you could be meeting your partner’s relatives for the first time, for example.
If your top button is undone, however, your tie is very likely going to be a little loose too.
This subconsciously has an effect on yourself, by making you feel more relaxed and casual – and also the people you will be around, who could view you as not having made enough of an effort or even looking stressed.
3. Good First Impression
Did you know that the majority of people make their first impression of someone within 7 seconds?
Whether it’s in your career or in your social life, nobody likes to give off the wrong first impression. You never know, it could be the difference between landing your dream job or not.
Picture this: you’re on your way to a job interview, feeling confident having thoroughly researched the company and having become familiar with the role.
You later find out you were unsuccessful in your application.
You remember you left in a hurry and forgot to button your top button up and your tie was loose.
Whilst this may not have been the sole reason for being unsuccessful, it certainly could have contributed to their decision.
An undone top button together with a loose tie could indicate a forgetful individual that leaves things to the last minute. Two traits you definitely don’t want to be demonstrating to an interviewer.
As grandparents all over the world would say, first impressions count.
2 Exceptions When You Might Leave The Top Button Undone With A Tie
As you’ve read so far, it’s a good idea to button up your top button if you’re going to be wearing a shirt and tie.
With that being said, there are some exceptions when it may be acceptable to leave it undone.
A Tight Collar
This is a common issue for a lot of men when choosing to wear a shirt and tie combination.
If you very rarely wear shirts, you may find that the next time you go to put one on, the collar around the neck is quite tight. This is greatly exaggerated when the top button is done up. This can be for a number of reasons.
Firstly, you may have unknowingly put on weight since the last time you wore the shirt. Many people go months, if not years without ever putting on a shirt so this is entirely plausible.
Secondly, we come in all different shapes and sizes.
Some people naturally have much larger, wider necks than others. If you are one of those people, you probably are already aware of the struggles of finding a shirt that fits around the neck with the top button fastened.
In scenarios such as these, it’s acceptable to have your top button undone when wearing a shirt and tie combination as long as you still look smart and respectable.
It is advised, however, to start shopping around for a new shirt that fits properly as soon as you’re able to.
A Relaxed Setting
If you wear a shirt and tie combination in the workplace, provided you have been given the approval to do so, you may decide to keep your top button undone.
A word of caution though, this does exhibit a much more relaxed, casual style which would be suitable towards the end of the day, or for when you head out for after-work drinks.
Another important factor to consider would be the temperature.
If you’re in an office without air-conditioning, or outside in direct sunlight at an event where the temperature is hot, it would be unreasonable to expect someone to keep their top button fastened at all times.
2 Tips For Leaving The Top Button Undone With A Tie (If You Can)
Here are some handy tips to think about if your heart is set on having your top button undone with a tie on.
1. Keep The Knot High And Straight
If you’re going to be wearing your shirt and tie combination with your top button undone, it would be a mistake to have your tie loose as well. Keep the knot straight, as well as nice and high.
As we’ve already outlined, having your top button undone and your tie loose makes your outfit far too informal and gives off the “I’ve just finished a long, hard day at work” vibe.
A vibe you certainly don’t want if you’re going through the effort of wearing a shirt and tie in the first place.
2. Consider A Button-Down Collar
The final tip would be to consider wearing (or purchasing) a different variety of collared shirts over the standard ‘straight-point’ collar.
When you wear a straight-point collar shirt with the top button undone, the collar is loose and loses the sharp, smart effect that the straight point brings.
This is because this type of shirt is meant to be worn buttoned all the way up, complete with a tie and usually a jacket.
A suitable variety of shirt that can be worn with the top button undone would be the button-down collar shirt.
The buttons on the edge of the collar secure the collar to the shirt keeping them neat, tidy, and perfect for if you were to decide to have your top button undone.
Unless you’ve outgrown your shirt or if it’s very hot in the office, it’s best to always keep that top button done up when wearing a shirt and tie.
The shirt, tie, and fastened top button is a combination that’s stood the test of time. Just like the saying goes, ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’.