The Oxford Shirt: All your Questions answered

What is an Oxford Shirt?

An Oxford shirt is simply a dress shirt made from Oxford fabric. Oxford fabric originated in Scotland. While there are many types of Oxford fabric the classic Oxford that we typically think of is a 100% Cotton fabric that feels hearty, durable, and resistant to wrinkles. While it is considered a casual and sporty fabric, the fabric is very versatile. As our lifestyles have become more casual, these shirts can be worn to a wide range of events.


What is an Oxford Shirt vs. an OCBD?

OCBD stands for Oxford Cloth Button Down shirt. This is an Oxford Dress shirt with specifically a Button Down collar. Just like peanut butter and jelly don’t have to go together, but they work so well, the OCBD has become the most common way to wear an Oxford shirt because they look so great. Over time, the terms Oxford shirt and OCBD have been used interchangeably making it seem that they are one and the same. The OCBD is an icon of American style. This is the shirt that Brooks Brothers built its name on.


What is an Oxford Shirt vs. a Dress Shirt?

A Dress Shirt is simply a more formal (non-tee-shirt) shirt with buttons down the front also known as a button-up shirt. It is made from fabrics that are very different than a regular tee shirt. An Oxford shirt is a specific type of dress shirt, made from Oxford fabric. If the dress shirt is not made of Oxford fabric e.g. if it is made of Poplin, it is technically not an Oxford shirt.

Note: The terminology of button-up vs. button-down can get confusing. Technically, a button-up shirt has buttons that go down ;) the shirt so that it can be buttoned-up. This is different from a button-down shirt which refers to the button-down collar - a collar with buttons that button it to the front of the shirt.


Is an Oxford shirt formal or casual?

Formality is in the eye of the beholder ;). Back when they first gained popularity, Oxford shirts were considered to be smart casual. They were worn by celebrities like Paul Newman, and Clark Gable. They are not the kind of shirt that you would wear to a black tie or a super formal event like a wedding, but then again, it depends on how formal the wedding is.

Can you wear an Oxford to an interview?

The answer is it depends. If you are interviewing for a job at Wall Street or in Consulting where the expectation is for you to wear dress shirts all the time, the oxford is too casual and to be avoided for an important event like an interview. Save it for casual Fridays and informal parties instead. If you are interviewing in Silicon Valley for an engineering role, an Oxford will put you in the respectably dressed bucket, and in fact, you may be considered to be too formally dressed ;). Either way, the classic and iconic Oxford shirt is a must-have in any guy's wardrobe. Make sure you have at least one of these stylish shirts to walk the line between dressed-up and casual.