The OCBD – Oxford Cloth Button-Down – is a shirt that deserves a category of its own. It exists somewhere between formal and casual, the office and the weekend, an American college campus and a Tokyo coffee shop. It looks just as natural with a suit and a four-in-hand as it does with selvedge denim and work boots. American in origin but beloved around the globe, it is the single shirt suitable for any occasion.
The shirts became popular with students at American Ivy League universities, who prized them for the soft, unlined collars that were more casual and comfortable than the stiff, starched collars worn by their fathers. These young men continued wearing them after graduation, and they became a common sight in Madison Avenue ad agencies, Greenwich Village jazz clubs, and even The White House.
Though Brooks Brothers was the first, many retailers produced their own versions. Some added details that became iconic, like the locker loops and back buttons first introduced by Gant or the flap-pockets made famous by J. Press. No matter the maker, they always had that button-down collar.
But just because a shirt has a collar and two buttons doesn’t mean it’s a true OCBD – like any good work of art, it’s all about the details. Unfortunately, many modern manufactures have forgotten the specifics that make the OCBD so unique from the rest of men’s shirting.
We use this checklist to judge whether or not a shirt is a genuine OCBD – and all of our shirts pass it.
But just because a shirt has a collar and two buttons doesn’t mean it’s a true OCBD – like any good work of art, it’s all about the details.
An OCBD’s collar should be unlined so that it is soft and produces a slight roll when fastened – a timeless, cool look appreciated by everyone from Miles Davis to John F. Kennedy.
Non-iron shirts can often look plastic and artificial. A shirt that wrinkles as you move in it will look much more natural and casual at the end of the day.
A rounded, longer-cut hem will help your shirt stay tucked – and keep you looking sharp when you choose to untuck it, too.
The box pleat is a rectangular strip of extra fabric at the back of the shirt that allows your arms to move more freely.
The locker loop is found at the top of the box pleat, and was meant for hanging OCBDs in school gymnasiums. But when torn from the shirt and kept by a lover it became a symbol of courtship. You can use it however you like.
Every OCBD should have a pocket to help dress it down. This can be a traditional, open pocket or a flap-pocket closed by a single button. In today’s world, these make perfect smartphone holsters.
The 7-button stance allows the top buttons to be separated by 8cm – the perfect balance. Feel free to leave those top two unbuttoned in warm weather to show just the right amount of tan. Having a button placket makes a shirt appear less dressy. Our unlined placket is slightly wider at 4cm, which gives the shirt a sturdier, better-constructed look.
The extra cloth at the bottom of the fabric should be sewn up in small “v” shape – a hidden detail recognized by the diehards.
Genuine mother-of-pearl buttons have a weight and thickness that make them superior to flimsy, easily broken plastic buttons.
Our sizing is fairly standard, so ordering your usual size in a slim fit shirt should do the trick.
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