Mature, sleek, and easy, Oxford shirts are a sure way to separate the boys from the men. So if you’re still clinging to your trusty tee (or haven’t already got one in your wardrobe), check out our top 7 Oxford shirt options and master the style that’s suitable for every occasion. Boys…it’s time for an upgrade!
Read more Men’s Style Guide features.
Owing to their versatility, Oxford shirts are absolute essentials for any Idle Man’s wardrobe. And we certainly don’t say that lightly. This really is the perfect item for any gent looking for a shirt that brings minimal fuss, yet boasts both comfort and class.
It would take real skill to pull this look off badly - even the least fashion conscious Idle Man among us can find comfort in this timeless staple. The Oxford shirt is a durable, classic component that’s totally low maintenance. And we’re here to show you just how wearable it truly is.
What is an Oxford Shirt?
If fashion isn’t necessarily something you swot up on, you can easily be forgiven for not knowing your plackets from your barrel cuffs. But if your wardrobe isn’t already acquainted with Oxford shirts you’re definitely missing out.
The Oxford shirt is the perfect, laid-back piece that conveys a sense of ease and comfort while creating a sleek, clean look…
- Ralph Lauren (.com)
If the style is unfamiliar to you, an Oxford shirt is generally considered a more unstructured dress shirt. It’s an item that walks the flexible line between casual and formal, making it a perfect item for the manly minimalist.
The term ‘Oxford shirt’, comes from the material and production techniques used to create the item. In contrast to other formal shirts, the Oxford cloth is slightly thicker than other shirts, which may use cotton or polyester. This also makes it less likely to wrinkle (which gives it bonus points in our books!). It’s a resilient and durable material that’s endlessly on-point.
- The name Oxford cloth relates to how the material of the shirt has been weaved.
- It uses a basket-weave pattern which originated in Scotland in the 19th century.
- It featured alongside three other weaving methods: Cambridge, Yale and Harvard.
- Only the Oxford style has stood the test of the time; other weaving methods have since ceased production.
Pinpoint Oxford Fabric
During your shopping trip, you may well come across items referred to as: ‘Pinpoint-Oxford’. Whereas the weave pattern is the same, a Pinpoint-Oxford method uses finer, lighter yarn that is woven more tightly. This results in a material that is slightly more formal in appearance.
So, if you’re looking for an appropriate wedding or interview shirt, the Pinpoint-Oxford may well be better suited to the occasion.
How to Style your Oxford Shirts
However you choose to wear your Oxford shirts, rest assured that it is a super safe shirt option that will help you avoid any sartorial sins. This shirt's fabric varies in shades and patterns, and the thick, textured feel of Oxford shirts allow them to work successfully as everyday items of workwear that don’t necessarily need to be ironed either.
And before you begin choosing your Oxford shirts, we’ve got a handy list of styling options and familiar features that you may want to take note of…
- You can opt for either a long sleeve Oxford shirt, or a short sleeve Oxford shirt. Shorter sleeves are great for the summer months and less formal occasions. Long sleeves work well for layering.
- Due to its association with casual wear, this shirt style does not always work quite so well with a full suit. It’s generally best to stick to a dress shirt in such instances. Otherwise dressing your Oxford shirts up with a blazer or sportcoat will do the trick nicely.
- Whilst browsing for Oxford shirts, you will find that the majority have a button down collar.
- Depending on your preferences, you have the choice of opting for a pocketed Oxford shirt.
- In some styling situations you might find yourself rolling up the sleeves, wearing it untucked, or using it to add layers to an outfit (such as beneath a jumper).
So, if you’re looking to expand your wardrobe, then an oxford shirt is an item that we’d definitely recommend. It’s a shirt with great versatility that works well in a number of settings (be it in the office, at a fancy do, or at your best mate’s BBQ). Not just seasonal, it’s an all-year-round classic and the perfect addition to any charming chaps' wardrobe.
Fitting your Oxford Shirts
Assuming you’re already nifty with the washing machine and iron, the only other element you have to nail when donning your Oxford shirt is its fit. And for a truly impeccable fit, follow our simple guidelines below:
- The shirt collar should sit comfortably around your neck without being too tight or too loose. Test this by seeing if you can fit one finger between your neck and the collar.
- The shoulder seam should end where your shoulder starts to slope down.
- Arm holes shouldn’t be restrictive. You don’t want the arms to hug your armpits too tightly. You also don’t want excessive fabric around that area either.
- Your shirt shouldn’t cling to your arm or chest – you want to allow some flexibility for range of movement. You should be able to pinch two to three inches to either side of the fabric.
- When untucked, your shirt should end around your mid-crotch area.
- For the perfect sleeve length and to avoid any bunching, ensure that the shirt cuffs end at the bend of your wrist.
- Be sure to try on items rather than making any quick judgement.
Our Top 7 Style Choices
The Oxford shirt is a staple item that comes in a variety of colours, so there is a huge array of options open to you. And due to the yarn used to create this garment, it’s long lasting too. As a result, it’s a very low maintenance item that won’t need replacing on a regular basis. So once you’ve found ‘the one’, it’s sure to be a match made in heaven. And as it’s such a timeless item, what better way to pay tribute to the humble Oxford shirt than to highlight our top seven favourite style options…
The White Oxford Shirt
For the more conservative Idle man, white Oxford Shirts should be your number one go-to. Simple, classy and completely adaptable, we’re tempted to claim this as mandatory menswear. A white Oxford shirt can certainly see you through a variety of styling options and works well with almost any other item and skin tone.
Smart White Oxford Shirts
For a smart or smart-casual look, opt for a pair of chinos or grey trousers. Some converse – or even tan dress shoes – will help complement this effortlessly cool look.
Whilst the uncomplicated Oxford shirt may not quite live up to the expectations of a more formal dress shirt, it can still be used effectively to create a refined and classy outfit. Adding a nice sportcoat, dark wash denim jeans (or blue trousers), and some smart dress shoes will create an outfit that’s both sophisticated and chilled. Opting for a pocket square will also add a smart finishing touch to your ensemble.
Casual White Oxford Shirts
For a much more casual look, match your white Oxford shirt with a pair of shorts and white trainers or loafers. Don’t forget to roll those sleeves up and leave your shirt untucked for an even more relaxed look.
Blue Oxford Shirts / Light Blue Oxford Shirts
As with a white shirt, the blue Oxford shirt is also very interchangeable, matching with dark or light wash jeans, chinos, and almost any kind of footwear.
Layered Blue Oxford Shirts
However, for something a little bit different, you can definitely make the most out of your blue Oxford shirt when it comes to layering. Wear it as an over-shirt, unbuttoned, and layered on top of a white t-shirt for some added swag. Choosing a slightly bigger size for this style may be beneficial in order to help roll sleeves up and keep the outfit looking loose and care-free.
Enhance this look further with some interesting accessories such as a watch, or sunglasses, and you’re immediately rocking a relaxed outfit that is stylishly nonchalant. Alternatively, throw a jumper or a navy blazer on top of your blue Oxford shirt for a preppy, cool-casual vibe.
Black Oxford Shirts
For the fellows who prefer a bit of monochrome, a black Oxford shirt works a treat with a pair of skinny black jeans and Dr. Martens. You could alternatively try out a pair of tailored black suit trousers and monk shoes for a more formal occasion.
Red Oxford Shirts
If you’re loud and proud with your fashion choices and don’t mind bold colours or patterns, then a red Oxford shirt may well be a great option for you. Particularly if you’ve already nailed the white Oxford shirt look, choosing an Oxford shirt in an alternative colour is a great way to shake things up a bit.
Pair up your red Oxford shirt with a pair of dark blue trousers, or dark wash denim and keep your style bang on trend. A red Oxford shirt with long sleeves will also help see you through those autumn/winter months. For any Idle Man, the Oxford shirt really is a no-brainer. It’s such a simple option to add to your wardrobe – a fundamental item that is sure to stick around for many more years to come.
Your Quick Guide to the Top 7 Oxford Shirts
If you’re already a fan of this enduring essential and are simply browsing for ways to work with what you’ve got, check out some of our simple styling tips below:
- Experiment with accessories. Interesting bracelets or a smart watch will help add character to your outfit – especially if you’re planning to roll your sleeves up or opt for a short sleeved Oxford shirt.
- Choosing tapered trousers, or rolling up the hem of your jeans will create an edgier look if you want to add some personality.
- Polish off your look by adding a blazer. It will instantly and easily lift an Oxford shirt into something much more suited to a formal setting. Don’t forget to play with pocket squares here too!
- Consider experimenting with colours further. Pastel coloured Oxford shirts work great in the summer – match them with a pair of dark wash denim jeans for a fun, yet sharp look.
- In addition, more detailed patterns (such as polka dots or even plaid), create contemporary, clean looks when paired with a blazer in a formal setting.
- The hem on Oxford shirts make them ideal to be worn untucked. Make sure you take full advantage of this casual aspect and opt to roll sleeves up where the occasion suits.
On That Note
Regardless of how you choose to style it, here at The Idle Man we're practically certain that the Oxford shirt will be forever on-point and never out of style. And if you weren’t already familiar with it, we’re hoping that this simple, no-fuss staple has been thoroughly introduced.
The Oxford shirt is one of the simplest items you can own and it really ought to feature as part of your wardrobe essentials. And if we haven’t managed to convince you that it deserves some designated drawer space, we challenge you find an alternative shirt that is as versatile, dashing, and downright Idle as the handsome men's Oxford shirt.