Oxford shirts are a true menswear staple and one of the most reliable garments a gentleman can own. Versatile, smart and effortlessly stylish, they will see you through many (if not all) of life’s most important occasions and events. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about men’s Oxford shirts, including its history, when to wear it and what to wear it with.
The History of an Oxford Shirt
The Oxford shirt was born on a polo field in 1896, where one of the spectators was John Brooks, grandson of the founder of Brooks Brothers. Polo players then adhered to a strict dress code, which included formal shirts with one important modification: buttons were attached to the collar to prevent it flapping into the rider’s face during play.
Brooks saw the potential in offering the garment to the general public, and it became a huge success from the moment it went on sale in about 1900. Its introduction not only brought a casual element to men’s formal outfits, but also changed the nature of shirts in the United States; until this time, they had always been collarless with separate detachable collars.
The style hit its peak in the mid-20th century, when Oxford shirts were adopted by the Ivy League college students on America’s east coast and later, the Vespa-riding mods in the UK. Today, the Oxford has evolved and is available in a number of different styles.
What is an Oxford Shirt?
Traditionally crafted from a thick, woven cotton known as Oxford cloth, the Oxford shirt is an excellent option for those attempting to bridge the gap between smart and casual. Its name has nothing to do with the type of shirt or where it was made, instead, it was coined Oxford because of the fabric it is made from — which originated from Scotland during the 19th century. So the story goes, a Scottish mill experimented with weaves to create four new styles, each named after one of the best-known universities at the time: Yale, Cambridge, Harvard and Oxford.
Oxford shirts can come in a variety of styles. Most commonly, they are made with a button-down collar with classic single cuffs. However, they are also available in other forms, including finer Oxfords that are better suited to formal occasions; these styles will come with a range of collars, from cutaway to spread, to Windsor.
What is an Oxford Weave?
The Oxford shirt is made from a traditional basket weave fabric with interlinking warp and weft threads. It has a two-tone textured appearance that is hard-wearing and durable. Compared to our other shirt weaves, it is perhaps one of the most versatile.
What to Wear With an Oxford Shirt
Whether you’re dressing up for a work meeting, or putting together a casual outfit for Sunday lunch, the Oxford shirt can help bring your whole look together. Below are three outfits ideas — featuring different types of Oxford shirts — alongside the occasion you would wear them for.
What to Wear With a White Oxford Shirt to Work
The white Oxford shirt is your workaday staple; it’s the garment you’ll wear most frequently to the office, thanks to its versatility and classic style. Wear a formal version with a navy suit and tie for important meetings, or a casual button-down with a pair of chinos and brogues for dress-down Fridays.
What to Wear With a Blue Oxford Shirt at the Weekend
No one quite wore the Oxford shirt like the late Paul Newman, and his go-to ensemble was a perfect choice for the weekend. Emulate his style by wearing a blue Oxford shirt with a sports jacket, jeans or chinos, and a pair of classic penny loafers.
What to Wear With a Pink Oxford Shirt to a Wedding
One of the best things about an Oxford shirt is that it can be dressed up or down. When heading to a wedding, take things more formal by selecting one of our pink Oxford shirts with a finer weave and formal collar. Finish the outfit with a tailored grey suit, striped tie and black leather shoes. For more relaxed dress codes, wear a button-down version with a sport jackets, trousers and loafers.
The Best Oxford Shirts for Men
Discover our wide selection of Oxford shirts for men, including classic fit Oxford shirts, slim fit Oxford shirts, and a variety of striped and checked designs. We also have a collection of short-sleeved Oxford shirts that are perfect for summer. Don’t forget, if you want your outfit to be smarter, choose one of our finer Oxford weaves. For anything that requires a casual dress code, opt for the timeless button-down — which is available in a range of colours and patterns.