Wardrobe Workhorse: The OCBD (Oxford Cloth Button Down)

Good day my dapperites,

Today I wanted to talk to you about a wardrobe staple, a reliable, multitasking workhorse. I am talking of course about a piece of classic American prep, the OCBD.

So what is the OCBD? It’s an “Oxford Cloth Button Down”. Oxford cloth is a very durable and hard wearing type of cotton. And before you ask, yes it is one that requires ironing (or not, depending on how you wear it, but I’ll get into that later). The style originated in England by polo players to keep their collars from flapping in the wind and was brought to this side of the pond by John E. Brooks, grandson of Brooks Brothers’ founder, Henry Brooks. The rest they say, is history.

So what makes the OCBD such a versatile option in the wardrobe? Simply put, it can be a dress shirt, a sport shirt or a layering piece. Iron it nice and crisp and throw it with a suit and tie like this:

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Or wear it with the sleeves rolled up like this:

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And you know what the beauty of the shirt is? The more you wash it and wear it, the softer it becomes and the more comfortable it is. Eventually it will start fraying on the cuffs and collar, but does that mean you should stop wearing it? Hell no. As the years go on, your age shows, so why shouldn’t your shirt show its like a badge of honor. Wear it proudly.

OCBD aficionados on menswear sites and forums could debate hours and hours over what brand is the best and talk about the much sought after collar roll . My personal (and perhaps biased) take? The originators, Brooks Brothers still got the game on lock. They’ve recently revamped their shirt to remove the inner lining on the collar and cuffs, thus reinstating the “oldschool” collar roll of yesteryear, and added mother of pearl buttons. Of course they upped the price to $140 USD per shirt ($189 CAD). Not worth it in my opinion unless you get em’ on sale. But you can still buy whatever stock is left of the old version for a pretty good discount. Now, not all my OCBDs are Brooks Brothers, but they are definitely my brand of choice. By the way, what colors should you go with? White, Blue and Pink are the all time classics.

Of course this post would not be complete without a showing of my personal collection of OCBDs:

 

 

 

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You must be asking yourself, are those 2 on the right identical? Yes, yes they are. Why? Because one of them was accidentally put in the dryer and as George Costanza once said “There was significant shrinkage” the sleeves were shrunk and made it unwearable as a dress shirt, so it’s relegated to casual wear. I had to get a replacement. Bottom 3 are Brooks Brothers the top 2 are from Simons.

Maintenance for these shirts? Wash them in warm/cold water and DO NOT put them in the dryer, they DO shrink. Just hang to dry and iron them as needed!

There you have it, a quick primer/intro on the OCBD and why I call it the “Wardrobe Workhorse”. Get yourself a few and wear them for years and years. They’ll love you as much as you love them!

Stay Dapper my friends,

 

-The Don 😉

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