Finding a stylish button-up shirt that fits in all the right places is like spotting a four-leaf clover — possible, but rare. My biggest problem is finding a look that has enough give around the chest to not show a gap between buttons. Or, if it fits across my bust, the rest of the shirt ends up looking too loose.
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I knew there were better options out there, so I asked my pal, Toronto stylist Rachel Matthews Burton, to share her tips for the perfect-fitting button-up:
1. Fit the largest part of your body, first then tailor the rest.
If you have a large chest, look for shirts with darts sewn into the bust area.
2. Try a men’s shirt.
“Roll up the sleeves, undo the top few buttons to create a longer silhouette and add a statement necklace for a feminine touch,” says Matthews Burton (I love this idea). Or have it tailored to suit your shape.
3. Use a safety pin or double-sided tape in a pinch
If you’re having the gap issue with a shirt you already own, you can use pin or tape, or if you have more time, sew in invisible snaps (find tutorials on YouTube or head to a tailor). I usually throw on a camisole or tank top to wear underneath and leave the top few buttons undone.
A few other things I’ve learned:
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Fit is key
A crisp white or black button-up shirt, especially one that falls around the hips, looks great on everyone — when it fits well.
Don’t be afraid to mix it up
For work, pair a sleeveless top with a feminine detail — like ruffles — with your favourite skirt. A necktie or bow around the collar is a nice touch, too. Long-sleeved or three-quarter-sleeved button-ups are great for layering in the fall: Wear one over a maxi dress or a tank top, leave it unbuttoned and tie it at the waist (another way to avoid the dreaded button gap if it’s giving you trouble).
The structure of a button-up is a personal preference — don’t feel restricted to one shape. I like flowy button-up tunics with pintucks around the bust to flatter my shape; I also love boxy cuts that fall around the waist, especially paired with a pair of high-waisted shorts or a pencil skirt. Mix up your look with details in the sleeves, especially if you’re bored with your work wardrobe: Try flared options or something with slits. Unique touches like structured pockets and edgy cutouts can also make your outfit stand out.
Experiment with fabric
A light denim button-up is a great laidback pick, while cotton shirts with a bit of stretch will give you a comfy fitted look. Personally, I love sheer options; wear a cami underneath (or skip it if you’re feeling extra flirty) and finish the look with skinny jeans and heels. When it comes to colour, white is always classic, but I’m a sucker for a tropical or floral print. Embroidered flowers are also hot right now, especially over stripes.