As a great classic shirt for the businessman who cares about style, the Oxford shirt is the most common choice, even for less formal occasions, due to its comfortable texture, and especially in the button-down version.
It’s the composition of the fabric that makes it so precious and unique: fine thread counts in various colours doubled in the warp, with a single, thicker and softer white weft thread, creating a basketweave effect with the typical dotted aspect.
This is one of the most common weaves among men’s shirts; it originated in 19th-century Scotland, a place that was a hive of activity in researching weaves and materials for the textile sector, giving rise to 4 highly-prized cloths that took the names of 4 prestigious universities: Cambridge, Yale, Harvard and Oxford. The last of these gained in popularity and value, so that it became a status symbol and a hallmark of preppy style, selected for the manufacture of college uniforms, due to its breathability and comfortable wearability.
Those who have chosen a shirt in Oxford fabric for their official appearances have contributed to spreading its timeless popularity; they include John F. Kennedy, and Miles Davis on the cover of his Milestones album in which he wears one in green. And there’s also a scene in the film Shall we dance, where Fred Astaire dances on roller skates in a skating rink in Central Park, wearing a white Oxford shirt and a regimental tie.
As it evolved, a fabric was produced with the name Royal Oxford, a clear reference to the classier version which has a plain weave composed only of thinner threads in both the warp and the weft. The effect obtained is of a more satin-like shirting fabric that stands out for its unusual sheen and lower weight compared with its older relative.
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