Oxford cloth shirts have been a staple in my closet for a long time. It’s funny how every time I do a closet purge, the older plaids and stripes make their way to Goodwill, but ALL of the oxford cloth shirts stay. For me, the fabric is what is so nice. I really like that thicker cloth, and the subtle texture of the weave. Must-iron is critical to a good oxford cloth shirt. None of that ‘non-iron’ or ‘performance’ stuff. I do prefer a button down collar, so I guess that puts me in the OCBD category. I’m 100% fine with that.
Over time, I’ve bought so many oxford shirts – the VAST majority have been off-the-rack. Brooks Brothers makes a nice OCBD, and their range of fits is nice. There are a few other companies that sell good OCBDs, and I’d bet that they are some of the most popular shirts in their catalogs.
One thing I’ve never done is have an OCBD custom made. I went to see my buddies at Miller Brothers to see if we could find a remedy. I wanted to find a really thick oxford cloth, and have some shirts custom made for me in a few classic patterns. Robby went ahead and pulled a few options from the Nisshinbo Mill in Japan. They are one of the top cotton mills in the world, known for their fine cloths and selvedge denim:
I decided to go with the classic blue and what they call a ‘Black’ University Stripe (it’s really more of a grey/dark navy look).
We went through all the motions. First we talked about the style of shirt: I wanted it to be slim but not skinny. I like the option of washing my OCBDs and hanging them to dry, then iron, OR sending them to the dry cleaners. In terms of features, I wanted an unlined, button down collar (it’s all about the roll…), barrel cuffs, and a front pocket (a nod to my Granddad who carried two pens, a pencil, and a small spiral notebook in his shirt pocket every single day).
The measuring process didn’t take long, maybe 10 minutes. The good part is that now that they have my sizes on file, I can reference them any time for any other shirt I need. We put in the order, shook hands, and wished the Dawgs a big win.
Robby called me about four weeks later and told me that my shirts were in. Four weeks is completely acceptable for MTM shirts. HJS and I swung by the store that weekend to pick them up.
Out of the bags, they look like your normal, higher end dress shirts. Something you’d grab off the shelf at a good men’s store. A closer look (and feel) shows the difference. First off, the buttons are a really nice, thick shell that don’t shine like the cheaper, plastic versions. The fabric is pretty luxurious – remember, it’s oxford cloth, not a 120’s fine weave. The shirts are extremely soft, but sturdy.
What really sets these apart is the fit.
These shirts were $175/each, but after slipping them on, it’s worth the extra money. They fit LIKE A GLOVE. I can’t say enough about how much of a difference the custom option makes: no baggy arms, no tight chest, no oversized collar…instead, everything fits just right.
Here are a few images of the shirts:
The average ‘nice’ off-the-rack OCBD is ~$150, so the $25/per delta is a small price to pay for shirts that are dialed in. Fit makes a huge difference, just ask your better half. Mrs. RCS agrees. HJS likes them too, since they’ll probably last long enough for him to wear as well.
Give the MTM shirt option a try…even with an OCBD. You probably wear these more than anything, so why not take the plunge?