The button-down is one of those easy-to-throw-on essentials that works just as well underneath a blazer as it does worn open over a bikini. But if you have a bigger bust, those buttons can present a problem — namely, boob gap. There are two kinds of gap — one limits how far you can button up, the other creates an opening between buttons, exposing your bra. Fixing the latter takes more than just a safety pin. That’s all to say that finding the right button-down can be tricky if you have larger breasts as Kate Sokolov, co-founder of clothing company Social Goods, puts it: “The options are usually either way too boxy and oversized or too tight and gaping. No one wants to be swimming in fabric just to be able to wear a button-down.” Since many button-downs nowadays promise a foolproof no-gap fit, it can be hard to tell which ones actually do if you’re a D-cup or higher. So we asked more than a dozen stylish women about their favorites — from ones that offer that classic oversize Oxford shirt look to those that definitely don’t look like your father’s button-downs. (Hint: There’s a lot of Everlane and Universal Standard on our list.) To help, we organized their recommendations by different price points below.
Best under $50
It’s been a sweltering summer. So it’s not surprising that Sokolov has been fighting off the New York City heat in a linen shirt — this Everlane one to be exact. It’s one of three button-downs in her closet she recommends (more on the other two below) that she can put on with no gaps. It has what she describes as a “perfectly boxy cut” — so it’s loose enough in the bust without covering up her figure entirely. She’s been wearing it with denim cutoffs and white Tevas. And Sokolov won’t be storing the shirt away in the back of her closet anytime soon. “I’m definitely planning to continue wearing it into the fall, especially as we always have those sneaky warm September days,” she explains. In the fall, Sokolov plans on pairing this shirt with the Madewell black skinnies she told us all about in our guide to high-waisted jeans, ballet flats (or mules), and a leather jacket.
“When I order a button-down, it’s always a guessing game of will it fit properly,” says Samantha O’Brochta, a creative producer at a London-based public relations agency. That’s why O’Brochta usually goes for shirts that are much larger, to ensure they’ll fit. She sized up in this pastel-hued Boohoo shirt, “knowing that there would be a better chance the blouse would fit over my bust, which thankfully it did.” The looseness offers better breathing room “without the fear of the buttons gaping,” O’Brochta explains. The flowy fabric on this top helps, too — that way, she can tie the bottom up to make for a tighter fit, one of her tried-and-true-tricks to make an oversized button-down not so oversized.
This is one of the more affordable tops recommended to us by lifestyle blogger Casey Brown. It’s designed to be more oversized and it definitely is, she says. Brown went two sizes down in the top, and “it still fits a bit oversized on me, including in the chest.” But it’s tailored enough, too — the smaller size creates a more fitted look at the waist, “which can be hard to do with oversized tops when you have a big chest.” The button-down has the just-right length to be “tied up or tucked in without pulling elsewhere,” Brown explains. It’s one of the more traditional-looking button-downs, with that more “starchy white” feel, she adds.
Fast-fashion company Shein is a favorite of teens, thanks to its trendy (and not to mention, very affordable) clothes. This blouse from the brand is one that O’Brochta constantly gets compliments on. She describes it as just “oversized enough” so she could get it in her usual size without worrying about boob gap (but for the record, O’Brochta says, “It fits great on my bust”). When she wears it out, she pairs it with light-wash jeans and does the now famous “Tan France–inspired French tuck.”
Best under $100
This shirt came to Sokolov in the form of a friend, who was an early Everlane enthusiast and recommended it to her. Like the linen shirt from the brand she told us about earlier, this one has a boxier cut that “fits well without being too oversized.” She owns it in black, but you can also find it in olive, French blue, and black-and-white stripes. The silk isn’t the shiny kind — it’s more matte, which Sokolov appreciates for everyday wear. She also mentions that it’s an “added bonus” that the shirt is made from Everlane’s eco-conscious Clean Silk, manufactured with less waste in mind and safer dyes, according to the company.
Ansley Morgan, a freelance stylist who focuses on size-inclusive fashion, praises Universal Standard for offering its line in sizes 00 to 40. What makes its button-downs ideal for bigger busts is the hidden snaps between buttons “to ensure that you don’t experience that awkward gape,” according to Morgan. This is one of her favorites (and it’s one that Brown approves of, too). Morgan describes the shirt as having a “fitted silhouette that is flattering and makes the shirt a little more sexy than your average button-down.” She usually tucks it into jeans with the first few buttons undone. The shirt is available in three shades: black, navy, and a dusty lilac that we’re particularly partial to.