Oxford shirts are a preppy icon. The open weave means that the shirt is breathable, making them wearable in the summer months and they look great layered under a smart knit for colder days, making them a year-round wardrobe staple.
Oxford shirts get their name from the cloth they are cut from- Oxford cloth. Rumour has it that a Scottish mill constructed four new fabric weaves around the late 1800s and named them after four prestigious Universities: Harvard, Yale, Cambridge and, of course, Oxford.
Oxford cloth is traditionally woven using a basket weave technique. Often the Oxford weave will use two slightly different but tonal yarns. This gives the fabric a distinctive pattern and a subtle marl effect to the garment.
Oxford shirts were originally considered very formal and would be worn with a jacket and tie or the shirt would be tucked into the trousers. This was how the shirt was worn when it was considered a staple part of Polo playing attire pre 1930s. The fact that Oxford shirts were worn for playing polo gave them a whole new identity, the Oxford shirt was seen in both a formal and casual manner. As a result, during the 1950s and 60s the Oxford shirt was really embraced by the Preppy Ivy League students who could be seen sporting an Oxford, un-tucked, with shorts and loafers. The shirt took on a sporty persona and was notorious for treading the line between smart and ‘off-duty’. Nowadays an Oxford shirt with a button down collar is considered more sporty and should never be worn with a tie like a traditional point collar Oxford.
If you want a contemporary twist for your summer look but want to use the versatile and wearable Oxford shirt then choose patterned shorts, a rugged sweater in case of a cold front, a lightweight jacket with some utility style detailing and a city ready backpack to top it off.