In classic style canon, you’d expect to see blue jeans and a pair of Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers etched into the pages. And once you’ve decided which jeans look best on you, or whether or not you like the Chuck 70s or the Chuck Classics, the next on the list is probably an Oxford cloth button-down shirt. It permeated the Ivy League campuses in the mid-century and is undoubtedly a staple in American fashion. Even so, the shirt actually has English roots.
Nineteenth-century English polo players wore shirts made from sturdy Oxford cloth, a tightly woven cotton plain weave fabric. These shirts also had a unique feature at the collar, where buttons were sewn in to prevent the collars from flapping in the wind. John Brooks, one of the presidents of American fashion brand Brooks Brothers, traveled to England in the late 1800s and, among his travel activities, watched the catchy polo matches. Upon his return from England, Brooks introduced his own version of the shirt to the US market.
While Brooks Brothers still calls their shirt a polo shirt, most people refer to the shirt as an Oxford cloth button, or OCBD. In recent years, however, another American brand from the east coast called Gitman Bros. has gained ground with style enthusiasts. Gitman Bros. was born in the 1970s and built its brand on dress shirts. Today, its contemporary line, Gitman Vintage, relies on archival fabrics for its modern silhouettes.
Both brands are often considered when purchasing a premium shirt made in the USA. So we’ve looked at the two side by side to help you decide which one is right for you.
Price: $ 165
Fabric: Gitman’s fabric is washed soft with a light peach hand and tight weave. It’s a classic blue oxford fabric, the kind of shade you’d expect in the category – a light sky blue.
In shape: To lose weight. These shirts are cut for a modern silhouette with high armholes and a slim waist. You would want to stick to your normal shirt size if you go for this slimmer figure. The ready-to-wear styles come in alphabetical sizes – XS to XXL – so you won’t have as much control over your fit compared to the traditional neck and sleeve size. That said, Gitman has a pretty robust Made to Order shirt program. But, as you can guess, it will cost you a few extra bones.
Buttons: Gitman’s chalk buttons are bone white in color with a matte finish, enhancing its less formal look.
Collar, cuffs and placket: Gitman Vintage forgoes the usual lining you would expect from most dress shirts. This interlining gives body and rigidity to the collars, cuffs and legs, thus preventing creases. The effect is a deliberately crumpled look that creates the casual look of the shirt. But that doesn’t mean you can’t squeeze it and starch it if the occasion calls for it.
Other details: Small details include a split yoke, which requires an extra step in the shirt making process, but theoretically results in a better-fitting shoulder. It also features a central box pleat at the back yoke and comes with a locker buckle. At the back of the collar, there is a central button to prevent the collar from unwinding while keeping a tie in place.
Gitman: $ 165
Price: 140 $
Fabric: Brooks Brothers fabrics are made from Supima cotton which has a soft hand and great durability to support it. It’s not as peachy as Gitman’s and looks like it’s featured more on the dressy side of the button spectrum. While available in a variety of blues, the Oxford we compared has a slightly grayer shade than Gitman’s.
In shape: The Brooks Brothers polo shirts are available in four different fits, ranging from the classic Madison fit to the extra fine Soho fit. In addition, each shirt is sized according to the length of the collar and sleeves. The Milano cut is the closest to what Gitman Vintage offers.
Buttons: Here, Brooks Brothers uses luxurious mother-of-pearl buttons, which style lovers praise for their luster and iridescence.
Collar, cuffs and placket: Brooks Brothers updated their OCBD in 2016 to meet demands from their fans who yearned for the shirt’s heyday. This involved removing the lining at the cuffs, the button placket and, above all, the collar. The result is a debonair turtleneck that epitomizes style.
Other details: Brooks Brothers uses single needle stitching which, along with a cleaner aesthetic, requires a bit of extra work – we appreciate that. The addition of bellows on the side is also reassuring.
Brooks Brothers: $ 140
Which one is right for you?
Gitman vintage: Gitman Vintage is a solid choice, however you look at it. Of the two, he leans on the soft, unfussy side of the OCBD. While you can squeeze and starch it, it feels more comfortable with an open collar and rough jeans. The collar is a bit shorter than Brooks Brothers, which means you won’t get such a satisfying collar roll. Again, this is not a revival of an Ivy classic.
Gitman: $ 165
Brooks Brothers: If you are looking for something that has the history and the cachet of being the definitive OCBD, Brooks Brothers is what you need. They’re slightly cheaper and come in a wider range of fits, so if one silhouette isn’t quite right, there’s probably another that is. While this update makes prep fans happy with the unlined collar and cute collar roll, it still feels like it could take on dressier occasions and not look out of place.
Brooks Brothers: $ 140
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