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What Is an Oxford Shirt and Why is it Essential?

When thinking about shirts (which we happen to do often) the Oxford iteration is often the first to come to mind. It’s as timeless a garment can come and it’s one of the most versatile shirts you’ll find in the men’s wardrobe. It has roots in sportswear and despite being less dressy than many of its counterparts, it still has a place layered under a blazer. The Oxford Shirt is indisputably one of most versatile shirts you can own; it can do almost everything.

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The name Oxford Shirt originates from the 19th century when it was used as a marketing strategy by a Scottish garment maker setting out to produce a fabric for every prestigious university, including Yale, Harvard, Cambridge and Oxford. By now, it’s clear that only one of them really caught on. In fact, Oxford university adopted the fabric for its sports attire worn by its polo players during the early 1900s. Players were drawn to the breathability and comfort of the fabric. They eventually sewed buttons at the ends of the collar points to prevent them from going up during matches. Though originating in the UK, there’s an undeniable American spirit to the Oxford shirt. President Kennedy famously wore it with a suit and a tie, reinforcing its position in the upper echelons of society. East Coast Ivy League students quickly followed suit, combining it with pieces such as shorts and loafers, establishing a style that today largely goes by the name of “preppy”. The Oxford Shirt embodies just the right amount of formality to match the fabric of the high societies, yet remains casual enough to have a pic-nic in it outside of them. Even though the majority of garments have been re-adapted to match current times, the Oxford Shirt has managed to stay the way it has always been. It’s one of the most resilient garments that exists and it almost always works.

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The Oxford Fabric

The fabric has a so-called basket-weave structure that follows a thin checkerboard pattern, providing a coarser touch to the hand compared to most other dress shirts. It’s among the thicker shirting fabrics available and has a high wear and abrasion resistance due to the degree to which its yarns are twisted. Despite the discernible texture, the oxford weave has a subtle luster on its surface if left untreated. Brushed Oxford, however, sacrificing luster for softness and warmth, is a popular alternative. Even though cotton was originally the fiber of choice for the oxford weave, today it can be found made of polyester, viscose and other synthetics. In terms of care, the oxford weave boasts a benefit: it’s relatively wrinkle resistant and those that do appear, are easily ironed out.

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How and when to wear an Oxford Shirt

Luckily, you don’t need a degree from a prestigious university to know how to wear one. It’s as native to a full-blown business wardrobe filled with suits as it is to the one filled with jeans and sneakers. Dress it up with a tie layered under your Italian suit, or take it to the beach and contemplate life at large in it, as you peer into the endless horizon. Wear it during a snowstorm under your three layers of wool, or pair it with some linen shorts pool-side under the sweltering sun. To those prone to sartorial overanalysis everytime the Oxford Shirt is part of the outfit equation, we urge you to follow your intuition. What matters most is your comfort, and whether you like what you see in the mirror.

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If you are looking for style inspiration, The Oxford Shirt has plenty to offer. You only have to go back a little bit into western cinematic history to realize it has been worn by the likes of Alan Delon, Paul Newman, Anthony Perkins, to name a few, both on and off stage, and not just that one quirky math professor you either still resent or fondly miss. Indeed, the pocket serves more than just absorbing the ink of overused pens, it once carried the Galloises, Marlboros or Ray Bans of Samourais, “Motel Owners”, protagonists and villains alike. If not actors, take a look at Gianni Agnelli, who was not just in control of Fiat and 5% of Italy’s entire GDP, but also clearly knew how to manage his attire.

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Our take on The Oxford Shirt is an ode to the power of simplicity. We created a shirt that is extra while omitting all the extras, and exists to become the one that you can always turn to, no matter the season nor the stylistic venture you intend to embark on. It boasts a pocket for functionality and is embellished with Mother of Pearl buttons, both serving to retain the delicate balance between casualness and formality. Its fabric is woven with 100% organic cotton fibers and weighs 175g/sqm, making it neither too heavy for layering nor too light for a solid presence on its own.

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