The Oxford Shirt

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A classic through and through, the Oxford shirt has remained virtually unchanged for nearly 2 centuries.

No longer just the standard uniform of English polo players, the Oxford fits neatly into the standard male wardrobe by providing the ideal intersection of comfort and style.  Half-buttoned over a soft t-shirt, the Oxford is casual, with the collar supplying a dash of classy charm.  Its oft-cotton makeup is designed with the Oxford weave, a style of cross-wise weave first created in Scotland in the 1800s and named after four of the great schools: Harvard, Yale, Cambridge, and Oxford.  It is the only “university” weave still in production today.

Fully buttoned under a tie and vest, the Oxford transforms into the epitome of New England prep.  Clothiers like Ralph Lauren have maintained the Oxford as a perennial staple in their lineup – demand has never faltered for it.  After all, look in any man’s wardrobe and you will find at least one Oxford hanging comfortably inside.

The Oxford serves the important job in the male wardrobe of playing the straight man – clean, modest, well-kept, with a bit of a fun side that sometimes peeks through.  It is the ideal all-around generalist, for there is virtually no occasion in which one cannot show up in an Oxford.  It is a versatile, popular shirt, less uptight and rigid than the tuxedo shirt but more presentable with a blazer than a Polo.  Moreover, the Oxford is comfortable and breathable enough for the general social wear that affords it the right to be worn anywhere in the world.

Originally the Oxford would have been designed with detachable cuffs and collar in mind, such that the men of the 19th century, for whom these shirts were quite a luxury, would have been able to replace them and save money. Even so, after propagating from the English polo players to the men watching the polo games, the young preppy men of New England adopted it as their own as a crucial part of the Ivy League look.

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