The Oxford Button Down Dress Shirt

This article is part of my Men’s Wardrobe Essentials series.

One of the best collared shirts to own and what I recommend for all my clients, regardless of age or body type, is the Oxford Button Down Shirt. It’s versatile, comfortable and one of the more durable items you’ll have in your closet.

What is an Oxford Shirt?

Oxford Shirt vs. Dress Shirt – What’s the difference?

In my best Jerry Seinfeld voice: “So what’s with all these dress shirts?”

A dress shirt is any type of collared shirt with a stiff collar and long sleeves that may be worn with a suit or blazer. An Oxford Shirt is usually considered a type of dress shirt, but the Oxford shirt is different from a regular dress shirt in two ways:

  1. They usually have a button down-style collar which eliminates that problem of collars flopping around and/or laying flat and disappearing underneath a jacket’s collar.
  2. The Oxford Shirt is named after the specific weave of the fabric called, you guessed it, Oxford cloth. It has a basketweave structure and a lustrous aspect making it a popular fabric for a dress shirt.

While you can wear Oxford shirts with suits, I don’t dress my clients this way. The buttoned-down collar lends a more casual vibe to the shirt and takes attention away from the formality of a suit. Unless you’re going without a tie when wearing a suit, it’s just not my preference, but it’s acceptable. I normally pair them with a Gray Notch Lapel Suit (no tie), Blazer, Harrington Jacket, sweater, or by itself with the sleeves rolled up.

Why Should I Own Oxford Dress Shirts?

Well, because they’re awesome. But most importantly, because of these 3 points:

  1. Looks Good, Is Versatile
    They look great on every body type and they pairs easily with the rest of your essential wardrobe. They can also be worn in casual and professional settings and feel equally appropriate. Roll up the sleeves and leave it untucked over a pair of dark wash jeans and you’ve got a casual outfit. Button the cuffs, throw on a tie (or not) and wear under a suit or blazer and you’ve got a dress shirt. It’s one of the most versatile shirts in a man’s closet.
  2. Comfort
    The oxford material is typically woven in a basketweave pattern which allows it to be soft and comfortable and less prone to wrinkling than typical dress shirts made of silk or silk blends.
  3. Durability
    Due to the heavier fabric and weave the shirts are very resilient and durable, as opposed to non-weaved fabrics like silk or silk blends. I’ve got clients who’ve been wearing their Oxford shirts for over 5 years and they look good as new.

How should an Oxford Dress Shirt fit?

An Oxford Shirt should fit just like any other dress shirt you own.

The Best Oxford Button Down Shirts For Men

Since they’re all generally made of the same fabric and weave, the color is what matters most.

For my clients, I only recommend two colors to start because they look good on every skin tone, can be paired easily with the rest of your essential wardrobe and will cover any situation where a collared shirt is appropriate.

The colors are:

  • Light Blue
  • White

Designer Options

Brooks Brother Milano Fit Button-Down Collar Dress Shirt

Rag & Bone Thom Browne Oxford Shirt

Budget-Friendly Options

Club Monaco Classic Fit Oxford Shirt   

Uniqlo Mens Easy Care Long Sleeve Shirt

3 Ways to Wear Oxford Button Down Dress Shirts

Brooks Brothers Milano Fit Button-Down Collar Dress Shirt

Levi’s 511 Slim Fit Stretch Jeans 

Daniel Wellington Classic Sheffield 36mm

Allen Edmonds Newland Ave Casual Belt

Converse Jack Purcell Signature Leather

Brooks Brothers Red Fleece Merino Wool V-Neck Sweater

Brooks Brothers Milano Fit Button-Down Collar Dress Shirt

Brooks Brothers Milano Fit Plain Front Trousers

Daniel Wellington Classic Sheffield 36mm

Allen Edmonds Poplar Dress Belt

Allen Edmonds Carlyle Plain-toe Oxfords

Brooks Brothers Red Fleece Micro Check Suit Jacket

Brooks Brothers Milano Fit Button-Down Collar Dress Shirt 

Levi’s 511 Slim Fit Stretch Jeans

The Tie Bar Solid Pocket Square with Black Border 

Allen Edmonds Poplar Dress Belt 

Allen Edmonds Carlyle Plain-toe Oxfords

Outfit Inspiration

Best Dress and Casual Belts

This article is part of my Men’s Wardrobe Essentials series.
Every guy only needs 4 belts in his closet, ever. Even though I always say your pants should fit without a belt – they’re still a must-have item because pants will shift as you wear them and belts help break up an outfit. You’d think belts would be simple and this article and video should be one sentence long. Unfortunately, I constantly see guys crapping the bed in the belt department. So let’s fix this. Here’s the best dress and casual belts for men and other tips and tricks you should know about.

Why do you need a belt?

Most guys only wear belts as utility items to keep their loose pants from falling off. Certainly, a belt is for this, but there’s other reasons to wear a belt.

  • You want your pants to hit a certain part of your waist, depending on whether they’re jeans or dress pants. During the course of your day, you’ll be standing, sitting, and moving around – this will tug and pull at your shirt and pants, causing them to move around. A belt ensures they stay in their proper place.
  • A belt is necessary to break up some of your outfits, especially with non-suit outfits. Let’s say you’re wearing a sport coat/blazer with a dress shirt, dark wash jeans, and some oxford dress shoes, you’ll definitely need a belt to help break up the outfit in your midsection. People who go belt-less in these outfits… ugh.
  • To hold up your pants as they loosen, not because they are already loose. Please wear properly fitting pants!

The Be-All, End-All Buckle Type

I have family from Texas (these are actually my relatives) and they take belt buckles very seriously – which is what every guy should do! All you’ll ever need is some variation of the standard belt buckle with a single square frame and prong – no matter if they’re casual or dress belts. There’s absolutely no reason for having anything else – EVER.

Ashley Weston Black Leather Casual Belt

If you have any other type of belt buckle, and you’re not a cowboy, sheriff, rodeo rider or douchebag, replace them immediately. I throw up a little in my mouth when I see guys wearing those horrible box-frame style belt buckles like the guy below. Whatever you do, please, don’t be that guy!

ThisGuyFucks

(“This guy f*cks!“)

The 2 Types of Belts Every Man Needs

1. Dress belt

You need a dark brown and black leather belt with a simple, thin and silver belt buckle. Also, is should absolutely be shiny. A matte belt as a dress belt is a no-no. Look how terrible a matte-finished belt looks as a dress belt in my image below!

Width

You want the width to stay as near to 1.5″ as possible. Anything wider will be more bulky and is considered more casual. Anything slimmer than that is a woman’s or a fashion belt and that’s not what we’re going for here. Even though the width is only slightly smaller than a casual belt, it makes a huge difference in appearance. Compare this picture of a guy wearing a wider belt as a dress belt compared to the image of my model. Night and day, in my eyes even though it’s only about half an inch difference.

Proper Dress Belt Width - Ashley Weston

Material

You only want leather, but if you’re averse to leather, then get a leather substitute belt. You want the luxurious look of leather to match your dressy outfits.

2. Casual belt

Just like the dress belt, you’ll want a black and brown casual leather belt, each with silver buckle. This is where the buckles can be slightly thicker, but not by much. Gold buckles may be allowed if you really, really must have gold, but it may clash with some of your outfits or accessories, so I like to keep it simple and avoid gold all together. Also, in regards to the texture or finish of the belt, you want to avoid super shiny belts. Shiny/Polished-looking belts = dress belts. Most casual leather belts will be pebbled or have a texture or be matte-finished. That and the width of the belt is how you determine whether a belt is dressy or casual.

Width

Have your casual belt somewhere between 1 3/4 – 2″ wide. Anything more than that is too wide and will look out of place. Slimmer than that looks more like a dress belt.

UltimateWarriorBelt cropped

Material

You can go with leather, cloth, or webbed belts. I personally think you should stick to leather until you’re ready to step out and get more adventurous with your belts. That way, your casual belts will work no matter the time of year or outfit.

Be careful not to get a belt that’s too shiny – like a dress belt. They should be more matte-finished. I see guys making this mistake a lot. Look at the differences between my dress and casual belt recommendations below to see the difference between shiny and matte.

What Size Belt to buy?

This is a question more men should be asking! Please check out my fit guide for details about how to choose your belt size.

The Best Dress Belts for Men

A quick note: Allen Edmonds are my absolute favorites because they’re high quality and they match their colors to their dress shoes. A lot of companies don’t do this, but it’s very important to match your belts with your shoes and AE takes the guesswork out of matching them.

Designer Options

Allen Edmonds Poplar Dress Belt
Brooks Brothers Skinny Chino Calfskin Belt
Brooks Brothers Leather Dress Belt

Budget-Friendly Dress Belt Options

Zara Reversible Belt
Zara Leather Belt

The Best Casual Belts For Men

Designer Options

Allen Edmonds Newland Ave Casual Belt
Brooks Brothers Deerskin Leather Belt

Budget-Friendly Options

H&M Leather Belt 
H&M Leather Belt 

3 Ways To Wear

Dress-Belt-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Wardrobe-Essentials

Brooks Brothers Golden Fleece Merino Wool Crewneck Sweater
Brooks Brothers Non-Iron Milano Fit Button-Down Collared Dress Shirt
Levis 511 Slim Fit Selvedge Jeans
True Vintage Revival Glasses
Allen Edmonds Poplar Dress Belt
Daniel Wellington Classic Sheffield 36mm
Allen Edmonds Carlyle Plain-Toe Oxfords

*NOTE: You choose the type of lenses (shaded, etc.) during checkout for the sunglasses above.

Casual-Belt-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Wardrobe-Essentials

Rag & Bone Jayden Workwear Jacket
Brooks Brothers Cotton Henley Sweater 
Levis 511 Slim Fit Selvedge Jeans
Daniel Wellington Classic Sheffield 36mm
Allen Edmonds Newland Ave Casual Belt
Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Classic

Outfit Inspirations

 

The Harrington Jacket

This article is part of my Men’s Wardrobe Essentials series.
Timeless, casual, cool and sexy. It doesn’t matter if you’re old, young, running errands, or hitting the links – you need a Harrington jacket. It’s light and pairs well with nearly anything. This iconic jacket will never let you down.

Popular since the ’50s, the Harrington jacket was worn by pretty much every iconic star of yesteryear: Elvis Presley, James Dean, Steve Mcqueen, and most recently, Daniel Craig as James Bond. The Baracuta G9 is the O.G. worn by these stars and is still made today, but there’s a lot of great brands making them.

Lightweight, often teflon-coated cotton, standing collar, zip front, and the tartan lining, I just love the hell out of this jacket. The original Baracuta brand is a bit tough to find, but Fred Perry and Ben Sherman make killer versions that I actually prefer.

Why you need a Harrington Jacket

Lots of guys, my clients included, have a tough time finding a casual jacket that isn’t too sporty or dressy. A Harrington Jacket fills this gap perfectly.  It looks great with jeans and sneakers as well as dressier items like collared shirts and wool pants.

The fit and design is also very flattering on any body type. On top of that, the style hasn’t really change since it’s inception and with proper care, this jacket will last decades – easily. The mileage and value you’ll get from this jacket is some of the best for any menswear item I’ve seen.

Which Harrington Jacket Is Right For You?

Since we’re talking about essential/foundational pieces and the style of these jackets is pretty standard across brands, you really only need to worry about the color, which is simple: get a navy Harrington jacket.

If you’re a regular to slim build, you can pull off other colors, but your first Harrington should be navy. If this is your second Harrington, definitely go for a khaki color.

I don’t recommend other colors, like black or burgundy, because they’ll be much harder to match with other items in your Essential Wardrobe and/or it’s just a big swath of color. So if you went with black, it’s a lot of black and, I think, doesn’t look all that great in person. It looks much better in photos than in real life.

One small note: If you’re a larger build, you may not fit Ben Sherman, even their larger sizes tend to run pretty slim.

The Best Harrington Jackets To Own

Designer Options

My personal favorite is the Fred Perry jacket. It’s what I use for all my clients.

Fred Perry Harrington Jacket
Original Baracuta G9 Harrington Jacket
Ben Sherman Harrington Jacket
Ben Sherman Harrington Jacket 

Budget Friendly Options

Reclaimed Vintage Harrington Jacket
Topman Peter Werth Sand Coat

3 Ways To Wear

Harrington-Jacket-650-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Wardrobe-Essentials-3

Fred Perry Reissues Harrington Jacket
Brooks Brothers Red Fleece Shetland Wool Crewneck Sweater
Brooks Brothers Non-Iron Milano Fit Button-Down Collared Dress Shirt
J Brand Tyler Slim Fit in Levin
Allen Edmonds Poplar Dress Belt
Daniel Wellington Classic Sheffield 36mm
Allen Edmonds Carlyle Plain-Toe Oxfords

Harrington-Jacket-650-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Wardrobe-Essentials

Fred Perry  Reissues Harrington Jacket Navy
Armani Exchange Pima V-Neck Tee White
J Brand Tyler Slim Fit in Levin
Allen Edmonds Newland Ave Casual Belt
Daniel Wellington Classic Sheffield 36mm
Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Classic

Harrington-Jacket-650-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Wardrobe-Essentials-2

Topman Stone Harrington Jacket
Brooks Brothers Red Fleece Henley Sweater
Levis 511 Slim Fit Line 8 Jeans
Daniel Wellington Classic Sheffield 36mm
Allen Edmonds Newland Ave Casual Belt
Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Classic

Outfit Inspirations

The Oxford Dress Shoe

This article is part of my Men’s Wardrobe Essentials series.
These are the best mens dress shoes, no questions asked. Anything else pales in comparison. Every man should have at least 2 pairs of Oxford dress shoes in his closet. Not only are they one of the most versatile shoes a gentleman can own – which will work for nearly all formal occasions from business casual to formal – but they’re the de-facto standard shoes to wear with a suit. On top of that, they’ll also work very well with 99% of the items in your Essential Wardrobe. They’re that good.

When you imagine a well-dressed man in a suit, I guarantee he’s wearing a pair of these.

Black & Leather ≠ Oxford Dress Shoes

Don’t think that if a shoe is black and leather, it’s an Oxford dress shoe. I shudder at the thought of those square-toed and/or slip-on monstrosities I see men wearing in place of a proper, lace up, round-toed dress shoe.

Also, if you can see your reflection in your black leather shoes, those are not a proper dress shoe. Those are tuxedo shoes. As the name implies, they should only be worn with a tuxedo. I’ve seen quite a few guys wearing these shoes with jeans. It’s not a good look. Your Oxfords shouldn’t look like mirrors, they should be a little more matte finished. Go to a department store and ask to see their tuxedo shoes so you can see the difference in person.

The image below from RealMenRealStyle highlights exactly what I see a lot of men wearing in place of Oxford dress shoes:

Wrong-Square-Toe-Shoes

To Cap-Toe or Not?

My opinion about whether you should have a cap toe Oxford or not changes with the wind, so I’ll leave it up to you. There’s not a single scenario when you’d wear a cap-toe over a non-cap toe, so this is entirely up to your preference. 

My clients are split 50/50 on this, too. You won’t go wrong with either, so choose whichever you think looks great and fits your style best.

allenedmonds_shoes_carlyle_blackallenedmonds_shoes_park-avenue_black

Should I go for Quality or Value?

For foundational pieces such as these, I’d say go for quality. However, there is a caveat:

How Often Will You Be Wearing Your Oxford Dress Shoes?

  • If you’ll be wearing them more than a handful of times a month, definitely grab a nice, high quality pair. They’ll give you many good years of use and look great the whole time.
  • If you’ll be wearing them once a month or less, go for value. They’ll definitely get the job done and look “good enough”. What’s the use of having a high quality pair of dress shoes sitting in your closet most of the time? I’d take that money and spend it on other pieces you might wear more often](link).

Which Shoes Should I Get?

Since you’ve decided whether you like cap-toe or non cap-toe shoes, now it just comes down to color.

Every guy should have these two pairs of Oxfords in their wardrobe to cover every outfit choice:

  1. A solid black pair
  2. A brown/cognac pair

Anything outside of those two colors will have more specific uses and occasions and definitely falls outside the domain of an Essential Wardrobe item.

The Best Mens Dress Shoes

These are my go-to Oxfords for clients:

Designer Options

Giorgio Armani Plain-Toe Patent Leather Bluchers
Allen Edmonds Park Avenue Cap-Toe Oxfords
Allen Edmonds Carlyle
Prada Plain Toe Blutchers

Budget-Friendly Options

Aldo Craosa 
Jack Erwin Joe Cap-Toe Oxford
Johnston & Murphy Hyde Park ll Cap-toe

2 Ways to Wear

For other ways to wear your Oxford dress shoes, check out my Gray Notch Lapel Suit article, Dark Wash JeanSemi-Spread Collar Dress Shirt & Leather Jacket articles.

BlackOxfordDressShoeLook1640-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Wardrobe-Essentials

Model: Tommy Mckeown

Fred Perry Reissues Harrington Jacket
Brooks Brothers 3-D Knit Fine-Gauge Merino Wool Crewneck Sweater
Brooks Brothers Non-Iron Milano Fit Button-Down Collared Dress Shirt
Burberry Straight Fit Japanese Selvedge Denim Jeans
True Vintage Revival Glasses
Allen Edmonds Poplar Dress Belt
Daniel Wellington Classic Sheffield 36mm
Allen Edmonds Carlyle Plain-Toe Oxfords

BlackOxfordDressShoeLook2640-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Wardrobe-Essentials

Brooks Brothers Red Fleece Topcoat
Brooks Brothers 3-D Knit Fine-Gauge Merino Wool Crewneck Sweater
Brooks Brothers Non-Iron Milano Fit Button Down Collar Shirt
Brooks Brothers Fitzgerald Fit Wool Dress Trousers 
Allen Edmonds Poplar Dress Belt 
Daniel Wellington Classic Sheffield 36mm
Allen Edmonds Carlyle Plain-toe Oxfords

Outfit Inspiration