The Story Behind the Oxford Shirt
Have you ever worn an Oxford shirt? You must have - even if you don't know since oxford shirts are one of the most popular menswear which can be styled for both casual and formal occasions, with equal alacrity.
Offering a rugged texture with unmatched durability and comfort, oxford shirts serve as a year-round wardrobe staple that every discerning gentleman should own. You might assume that only office goers, teachers, or lawyers need such crisp, polished shirts but you are mistaken here since every man, regardless of his age group and cultural background, looks quite handsome in a quality Oxford button-down.
So today, we are going to discuss everything about these iconic Oxford shirts including their basic features, origin history, and ways to style them in different ways, for different occasions. So, keep reading the article to understand why men from all around the world are buying them with such a great obsession.
So what exactly is an Oxford shirt?
First thing first, the name Oxford has nothing to do with the shirt type or its place of origin. Rather, its manufacturer used the name only for marketing purposes as it sounds somewhat elite and luxurious.
Coming back to the topic, an Oxford shirt is mainly identified by its two basic features which are;
Only a certain type of fabric is exclusively used to make these shirts; oxford fabric. This fabric is weaved in an unusual manner which in turn results in a thicker, stiffer, and more rugged texture than that of cotton or linen. To make this cloth, a basket weave pattern is used in which many warp threads are crossed over an equal number of weft threads.
However, the distinctive Oxford pattern is achieved by crossing white threads with single-colored threads. Besides, different colored threads can be used to create patterns or double-shades. The basket weave does not only impart unmatched strength to the fabric but also incomparable softness which makes it comfortable to wear year-round.
Another point at which Oxford shirts can be differentiated from dress shirts is their collar type. All Oxford shirts must contain a button-down collar. The reason why manufacturers started to make Oxford shirts with button-down collars is that in 1896, the founder of a multinational clothing brand, John Brooks noticed that polo players pinned the collars down to prevent them from getting stuck under jacket lapels or flapping up during the game.
Thus, he took inspiration from button-down collars from there and created special shirts, with a special fabric, with an even special type of collar that can be kept interlined with buttons. In the earliest days, oxford shirts were sold with removable collars and cuffs but that trend has gone obsolete now.
In the initial days of the 19th century, when clothing manufacturers were super enthusiastic to create something innovative, a manufacturer in Scotland created four different types of fabrics, by attempting some newer weaving patterns. For marketing purposes, the manufacturer named these products after four of the most prestigious educational institutions; Harvard, Cambridge, Yale, and of course, Oxford.
As time went by, the other three weaves weren't very popular and were discontinued but Oxford fabric got much fame around Europe and America and thus, its production has continued till the current day.
Types Of Oxford Fabric
By slightly changing the thread count and thread nature, different types of Oxford fabrics have been created by now where each type is used to make a certain kind of clothing item. The most popular types of Oxford fabrics are as follows;
- Royal Oxford
As the name implies, it is one of the finest Oxford fabric types which is created by weaving the lightest and finest yarns in a tight basket weave pattern. The resulting fabric comes out to be noticeably shinier, finer, and smoother than its other counterparts.
Due to the characteristic sheen and luxurious feel of royal oxford, this fabric is mostly used to make high-grade tuxedo shirts and dress shirts for formal events.
- Pinpoint Oxford
Pinpoint oxford is smoother and softer than a regular oxford and that's why, this fabric type is used to make casual clothes, worn during leisurely time or at bedtime. Not only this fabric is extremely comfortable and soft against the skin but it's also more prone to shear than its other counterparts and that's why, the wearer needs to be more careful around sharp objects while wearing pinpoint Oxford.
The desired smoothness is achieved by weaving finer yarns in a tight basket weave pattern. The level of sheen and thickness this oxford fabric offers lies somewhere between royal oxford and plain oxford.
- Plain Oxford
To make plain Oxford fabric, two standard woven yarns are mixed with yarns of high weight. Resultantly, the fabric we got in the end came out to be wrinkle-proof, soft, and smooth. It won't be wrong to say that it's the most durable type of Oxford fabric which can withstand daily wear and tear quite gracefully. However, it doesn't contain the signature sheen or luxurious feel of royal Oxford fabric.
Oxford Vs. Formal/Casual shirts
End on end
Straight point collar
Casual point collar
Mostly Patterned & printed
Fit and length
The back hem falls one inch below the butthigh
Hems long enough to be easily tucked inside
Q2: Can you wear an Oxford shirt with jeans?
Q1: Are Oxfords considered formal?
Oxford shirts lie between the casual and formal nature of menswear as they are dressier than a casual shirt whereas less dressier than a formal shirt. For this very reason, oxfords are mostly preferred for smart casual choices.
Being a versatile piece of clothing, oxford shirts can be worn with almost all kinds of bottom wear, be it dress pants, jeans, chinos, shorts, or a jumper, as per the nature of the occasion.
Q3: Should an Oxford shirt be tucked in?
If you want to achieve a dressier look, you better tuck your Oxford shirt inside your pants. However, for everyday wear, these can be dressed untucked as well.