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THE VERSATILITY OF AN OXFORD SHIRT

6 DIFFERENT WAYS TO STYLE THE OXFORD SHIRT

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The Versatility of an Oxford Shirt

Most men have shirts for work, weddings and black tie functions; as well as shirts for casualwear, long weekends away and first dates. The beauty of the Oxford Shirt is that it can be worn in all situations. It has a unique versatility, combining sleek clean lines and the laidback easiness that you’d expect from a casual shirt.

Historically connected to Oxford University, the original Oxford shirt was designed for polo players. The light breathable fabric meant it was ideal for sportswear, yet the crisp neat look offered a refined and dignified air.

"Historically connected to Oxford University"
"Historically connected to Oxford University"

It is the unique weave of this shirt that gives it such a softness which lends itself to more casual attire, while the crisp tailoring suits more formal occasions. The basket-weave of the Oxford shirt involves two threads running lengthways between a heavier thread that runs vertically. Occasionally the vertical thread is a different colour to add a different stylistic aspect to the shirt. 

'Most Oxford shirts have button-down collars, although it is the Oxford weave that identifies it' 

It is this unique weave that results in a thicker and more structured fabric, that still feels soft. The well-structured tailoring means the shirt is ideal as a dress shirt if combined with a blazer and tie, whereas can easily be worn open at the neck for a more casual effect.

River Island Autumn/Winter 2014
River Island Autumn/Winter 2014

Ways to wear your Oxford Shirt 

Preppy - If you want to pay homage to the origins of this popular shirt, then team it with a navy blazer and striped tie that echoes of college days and university sophistication. Team it with chinos and brown brogues for the ultimate preppy look. This is a great daytime look, that works for any number of smart/casual events.

Workwear - The Oxford shirt is ideal for work as it isn’t too dressy or sharp, yet is still sophisticated and smart enough to show you dress well. The casual element makes you appear more approachable, friendly and laidback; whereas the formal aspects show you mean business. Crisp white Oxford shirts look good with a simple block colour tie for work, perhaps something in a jewel-colour such as emerald green or a rich ruby red. Otherwise, Oxford shirts with contrasting warp (vertical) threads in soft pastels and weft (horizontal) threads in white are becoming incredibly more popular as workwear.

Street Etiquette
Street Etiquette

Dates - Picking out the appropriate outfit for a date, is tough for any man. Look too formal and you’ll feel like you are at a work function, or being interviewed. Look too casual and you’ll appear like you haven’t tried hard enough and aren’t that into your date. No-one wants to look like they’ve made no effort on a date, yet giving the impression that you’ve made a lot of effort can give the wrong impression too. For events, such as dates, that need something to bridge the smart-casual divide, the Oxford shirt is the perfect garment. 

Weekends - You know that evening dinners can mean a full suit, usually with a dress shirt and tie. However picking out the perfect outfit for weekend dinners and casual leisurely lunches is never easy. Wear your Oxford shirt with a loose tie, smart jeans (white jeans look particularly stylish when worn well) and a tailored tweed jacket. Alternatively, opt for rolled-back sleeves and some linen blend trousers.

Marks & Spencer Autumn/Winter 2014
Marks & Spencer Autumn/Winter 2014

Formal events - To dress up your Oxford shirt, wear it with a smart tailored suit in black or navy blue. Smart black leather dress shoes, a crisp white Oxford shirt and a black silk tie will look smart and sophisticated. To emphasise the dress element, add a pocket square to your blazer pocket, ideally in a tone that matches your shirt. The simplest and most effective style is opting for a crisp white pocket square, allowing a centimetre of fabric to be exposed at the outside edge of the pocket sloping down gradually to a few millimetres nearer the collar. Add a simple chic tie pin for additional style points. 

Days off - Oxford shirts look great paired with a pair of washed out navy jeans and brown suede boots. Roll up the sleeves and keep the collar open and leave the shirt untucked. If you choose a shirt that is slim-fitting and well-tailored then the look will be flattering and although the look is casual it won’t look scruffy or unimpressive. This is the ultimate way to dress down with style. Oxford shirts are also ideal for travel, they pack beautifully and allow you to be prepared for any eventuality. Whether you are travelling on business or pleasure, you’ll have the outfit to suit the occasion. It is their versatility that make Oxford shirts quintessential wardrobe staples for the modern man.

Massimo Dutti 2014
Massimo Dutti 2014

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