Chances are you’ve worn one already, and probably have one hanging in your closet — but what is an Oxford shirt anyway? And how is it different from a dress shirt?
That’s what we’re here to answer in today’s edition of Ask An Effortless Gent.
In the sections that follow, we’ll be exploring the history of the Oxford shirt, from its collegiate origins to modern styling tips. By the end of the article, you’ll know not just where this shirt comes from, but how to wear it, too.
Why Is It Called An Oxford Shirt?
The beginnings of the Oxford shirt lie in its special style of weave.
Originally, two different yarns basket-woven together to create a specific sheen. This “Oxford weave” was debuted in 19th century Scotland alongside special weaves named after each of four famous British universities: Oxford, Yale, Cambridge, and Harvard.
Though the other shirts have faded into obscurity, the Oxford shirt owes its popularity to British polo players.
They appreciated the lightweight material yet durable weave of the Oxford shirt. In response to the high-speed horseback riding of the sport, these polo players added buttons to the collars of their shirts to keep them from flapping in the wind.
What Defines An Oxford Shirt?
Because of its history and development, the Oxford shirt is defined by two things:
A special weave that makes it durable, lightweight, and attractive.
A button-down collar that stays upright and in place.
Other than that, you’ll notice that it’s remarkably similar to a common dress shirt. The cut, sleeve length, and sizing will usually be the same as standard dress shirts.
If you’re going for a more casual, sporty style — perfect for a shirt with an active sporting history — then leave it untucked.
Oxford shirts wear well with a pair of chinos or shorts during the spring and summer, where their basket-weave cloth will show off its best lightweight qualities.
Dressier outfits will, of course, use a tucked-in Oxford shirt.
Heading to work in an Oxford shirt and trousers is a great idea, as you won’t be fighting with your collar throughout the workday. For the same reason, Oxford shirts are fantastic when topped with a blazer or sport coat to make a crisp, sharp look.
Wrapping Things Up: Where to Find An Oxford Shirt
Here at Effortless Gent, we’re big fans of the Oxford shirt. Whether dressed up or dressed down, tucked in or left out, they’re a wardrobe staple that can be worn all year round.