In every wardrobe, there are timeless, essential pieces that never go out of style. A casual, blue oxford-shirt is one of those pieces. Popularized in the 1950’s, the blue oxford-shirt is a sartorial masterpiece that every man should own.
Weaved together in a basketweave pattern using white and blue yarn to create the familiar light-blue tint, blue oxford shirts are extremely sturdy. The self-edged material prevents common fraying, and the shirts tend to grow a unique, vintage look the more harshly machine-washed. With sturdy fabric, button-down collar, barrel cuffs, and a single pocket on the left chest, the garment is clearly built to last.
Ben Koss, a junior at Fayetteville-Manlius High School in Manlius, N.Y., told JSR about the timeless versatility of the shirts, arguing that “blue, even white, oxford shirts are definitely the most versatile shirts in my closet. I can dress them up or down, put a blazer on top, or even just wear them untucked and unbuttoned. Also, I can match light blue with any color: navy, khaki, black, olive, and more. It’s almost impossible to mismatch or go wrong.”
However, the blue oxford shirt isn’t a new trend; in fact, according to MrPorter.com, the blue oxford has remained a wardrobe staple since the early 20th century. When Brooks Brothers implemented the symbolic button-down collars to their new oxford shirts during the 1930s to avoid the infamous collar-flap during polo matches, the golden era began. In the 1950s, John F. Kennedy, perhaps the most stylish president in history, and Anthony Perkins, who played Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho,” were professionally photographed with blue oxford shirts.
In 1959, Alain Delon proudly wore his blue oxford shirt with a tan blazer in “Plein Soleil.” In the Florida Keys, Paul Newman–nicknamed King Cool of Hollywood–preceded his Life magazine photo shoot wearing a blue oxford shirt with flapping, unbuttoned collars. Many men of great power did not shy away from the staple as well. Gianni Agnelli, the quite legendary industrialist who controlled Fiat during the late 20th century, had a habit of wearing his blue oxford shirt with his favorite wristwatch–in his private jet, of course.
“I found at least three, blue oxford-shirts in my house,” said Sam Goldman, a junior attending Manlius Pebble Hill School in DeWitt, N.Y. “My two brothers and dad all owned Ralph Lauren and Brooks Brothers blue oxfords, no exceptions. I really think almost everyone owns one, even if they cannot remember. Go dig through your closet, and you can probably find a blue oxford; if you don’t, you should buy one.”
The blue oxford is more than just a versatile, sturdy, and good-looking shirt. The garment rather assumed a fragment of American cultural identity. From U.S. presidents to Hollywood stars and business magnates, the shirt truly became part of the American identity as its versatility and immaculate structure stood the testament of decades.