"Today's Oxford shirt is a base garment every man should have in their closet. It is a very nice and solid leisure shirt while it can also easily be dressed up. For example, by wearing a blazer over it," says shirt designer Hege Næss Gundersen.
Lest you believe that this shirt can only be casual or sporty, just picture an elegant Pierce Brosnan or Sean Connery as James Bond, who wore the shirt in several of the movies! And although both the British 007s and the Americans have literally kept the shirt close to their heart, the iconic garment is neither from Oxford nor the United States.
As a point of fact, the shirt was invented in Scotland in the early 1900s. There were four types of shirts produced there, which were named after the elite universities: Yale, Cambridge, Harvard, and Oxford, but it is only the Oxford shirt that survived the test of time.
Throughout the 1920s, the shirt became a part of the polo player's uniform: In this regard, both the breathable cotton fabric and button down collar were essential features: The ability to button the collar to the shirt enabled polo players to avoid having the collar "flap" in their faces during a match.
The fact that the Oxford shirt had gained popularity through the aristocratic sport gave it a preppy character from the start.
It is, therefore, no coincidence that the shirt was adopted in the 1950s by students at Ivy League universities in the United States. They began wearing the garment without a tie and untucked - and voilà, the Oxford shirt became the classic fashion we know it as today.
Since then, the Oxford shirt has often been used with the top button open for a more casual statement.
"But, it can also be stylish to button the collar if you're wearing a tie," says Gundersen.