Ivy Trendwatch: J. Crew Invokes ’60s-Era Collegiate Cool With Unlined Oxford

We haven’t had anything to classify under Ivy Trendwatch for quite some time, but we do now thanks to J. Crew.

With a headline called “The New, Old School Oxford,” the company has introduced a collection of oxford-cloth buttondowns that tout their vintage collegiate inspiration and unlined collar. “With a longer, unlined collar, our new oxford resembles the iconic staple of ’60s Ivy League cool,” reads the product copy. The collar may be longer, but it’ll still be too short for most of you older guys out there.

And of course we have to call out the copywriter (or whoever stamps approval on what the copywriter composes) for a couple turns of phrase. For some reason the term “late ’60s” is employed, as if this type of shirt hadn’t existed for decades before then, and apparently the shirt is so rare that it required “sartorial archeologists” to find one to reproduce.

On the plus side, cheers to this large corporation for invoking the timeless cool of ’60s Ivy style. And perhaps exposure to the shirt will lead a few finicky consumers to elevate their game and seek out even better buttondowns. Such as those by longtime Ivy Style sponsors Mercer & Sons and Michael Spencer, for example. — CC

36 Comments on "Ivy Trendwatch: J. Crew Invokes ’60s-Era Collegiate Cool With Unlined Oxford"

  1. They have not made well tailored oxfords at J Crew for some time now. The materials are often skimpy, the cut is too short, the collars don’t roll. They just seem wrong and ill conceived and all about image rather than substance. And this shirt will probably sell for $98 or $159 or some ridiculously high price.

    And by the late 1960s, this type of shirt was going out of style. It’s heyday might have been from 1958-1966. Good luck with their latest atttempt to connect.

  2. Methinks J. Crew will soon be joining those “long shuttered men’s shops.”

  3. They’re listed at $64.50 but the collar looks like less than 3″. If by 60’s cool they’re talking about Man From U.N.C.L.E. with the skinny lapels and ties, maybe. It’s incredible to me that someone can’t make an OCBD with 3.5″ unlined collars, plackets, and cuffs for less than a hundred bucks. Hell, they shouldn’t be more than $50 considering they’re made with sweatshop labor.

  4. GS

    I think you are right.

  5. They’ve apostasized long ago. I was “close” with an executive from J. Crew once upon a time. She confessed that their strategy was to build a brand on a reputation of classic quality after which they gradually downgraded quality and expanded factory store presence. Once upon a time I was enthralled. Now I’m grossly disaffected.

  6. Tiny little collar… yuck.

  7. @Chris

    Even Napoleon Solo wouldn’t be caught dead in a collar less than 3″. I don’t understand either why all the options are above $100. Many of these shirts are long gone, a real pitty for the more frugal/younger among us.

  8. Pardon me, pity*.

  9. Watch J. Crew shirt sizes too.
    A regular XL measures to a 42″ chest and 34.5″ waist and slims are designed for the gaunt and rail thin.
    That the company is struggling is no surprise to me… offer products that the majority can wear.

  10. The most impressive statement here is in calling reference to those “long shuttered men’s shops” from a company that is in $2 billion in debt.

    The irony of course is that the bigger the clothing manufacturers get, the more they have to either cut costs or chase/create the fashion churn to drive the same or greater inventory turns to maintain the same YOY growth to satisfy the investors. In turn, they create a fickle customer whose tastes blow in the wind and whose loyalties easily shift, if they exist at all.

    On the other hand, you have the customers who care less about fashion trends and the newest looks, but hold to a style and demand long lasting quality. The type of customers who will remain loyal, but whose demands of staid style and long-lasting quality make for lower turns and slower growth. So you continue to drive the prices up and up to try to maintain that growth, perhaps gradually increasing some “fashion” lines to woo a younger audience.

    Seems like the worst thing that can happen to these companies is to have “too good” of a year, which starts them down the spiral of “what are we going to do this year” to hit the ever increasing target.

    “On a long enough time line, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.”― Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

  11. Mitchell S. | July 21, 2017 at 9:57 am |

    Earlier this year, J. Crew’s head of menswear, Frank Muytjens, left the company. Since then, the quality of menswear has been in decline.

  12. Some excellent food-for-thought, BRB: within the world we care about, has any purveyor ever been able to maintain a middle ground between the local, privately-held, men’s shop with quality wares, high prices & lower margins, and the large, publicly-held, fast-fashion “brands”? It seems obvious that, with the former you are accepting a better, more loyal customer base, but limited growth; with the latter, potentially spectacular revenues while the trend burns hot (even when that trend is ‘trad’), but you’d better make that money quickly because it ain’t gonna last.

    I taught a class once on the pros/cons of privately-held companies versus publicly-held ones, and the forces that each has to deal with, and which leads to better decision-making, better returns, better corporate citizenship, etc. And, in a parallel to this clothing conversation, the only conclusion my students and I could reach was that the answer to which one is “better” relies entirely on the arc of the timeline you’re considering.

  13. I only wear exploded seam oxfords.

  14. Look around. Ratio offers made-in-USA OCBDs for under $100 and they have 3.5″ collars.

  15. There’s a tragic follow-up story here.

    One of their teams of sartorial archaeologists was lost when excavating the basement of the old Sugar’s Men Store back home. The shop was now used as a fabric store, and the first floor collapsed during a half-off sale, under the weight of a stampede of 250 pound MeMaws and church ladies.

    RIP, OCBD Ph.Ds

  16. I would not be unhappy to see the younger generation of men embrace these shirts and rep ties and the equivalent khakis and blazers. Though they are far from ideal for me and for fellow readers of this site, they are a step in the right direction. Maybe we would see fewer young ladies in sun dresses and heels sitting across the table from flip flopped, jean shorted, graphic under shirted shit birds on dates in restaurants.

    Unrelated. My mother in law shipped me a beautiful cream colored hooded sweat shirt of unknown manufacture which I plan to pair with a vintage Harris Tweed 3/2 coat in the fall. Having reached my half century with traditionalist bona fides, I will pull the look off.


  17. Hate to see the collar before they “lengthened” it.

  18. Julia Smith Grossman | July 21, 2017 at 6:28 pm |

    I heard that J.Crew in Charlottesville, VA is closing and will reopen as J.Crew Mercantile. I believe that is their somewhat new name for their “Factory” line of cheaper clothing. I wouldn’t be surprised if they make this change at a lot of their locations.

  19. Dutch Uncle | July 22, 2017 at 12:28 am |

    @Julia Smith Grossman,

    Please give readers of this blog credit for the intelligence to know that the only Charlottesville is in Virginia.
    Also, unless you work for the USPS, please remember that the abbreviation for Virginia is Va., not VA.

  20. D. Havana | July 22, 2017 at 1:06 am |

    Who needs J. Crew when you’ve got J. Press?

  21. Julia Smith Grossman | July 22, 2017 at 8:35 am |

    Mea culpa.

  22. Dutch

    You have an…interesting way of spending your time at 12:28 on a Saturday morning.

    I think Ms. Grossman sounds charming.


  23. The once-upon-a-time reality of a short(er) pointed “Clifford” collar noted, here’s real, genuine late 60s cool. A late 60s OCBD stand-off. Compare/contrast begins around 9:05. If they’re not four inch collar points, then they’re at least 3.75. Enjoy.


  24. Charles Dana | July 22, 2017 at 11:30 am |

    Julia Smith Grossman: No “mea culpa” is necessary. You did fine.

    According to, for instance, the AP Stylebook and the Chicago Style, writers should refrain from using Postal Service abbreviations for the states (except when they are writing a full mailing address). Therefore, one should use “Calif.” (not “CA”); “Va.” (not VA) and so on.

    It is also true that, in the journalism racket, some city names are generally not followed by the name of the state in which they are located; e.g., Las Vegas, Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago. But guess what? “Charlottesville” is not one of them; it’s all right to specify the state in which Charlottesville is located.

    The above information is fairly straightforward. What’s somewhat less clear is why someone would go out of his way to publicly and condescendingly lecture someone else for not, in a blog about clothing, strictly following the style rules. A blog of all things.

    Julia, thanks for the news about J. Crew. And my best wishes as I write this from San Francisco, CA.

  25. This humble “blog about clothing” still uses Post Office abbreviations.

  26. Hookville.

  27. Charles Dana | July 22, 2017 at 12:23 pm |

    This blog uses Postal Service abbreviations? Good! Somebody has to stand up to the pedants. If not here, where? If not now, when?

  28. Julia Smith Grossman | July 22, 2017 at 1:11 pm |

    Gentlemen: It has never been my intention to insult someone’s intelligence over anything, and certainly not something having to do with designating a city’s location in a particular state and the use of an improper abbreviation. But, where did I pick up such bad habits? Although I have never worked for the USPS, I do spend too much time there and also at UPS. I live in a small town and do a lot of online ordering and returning resulting in the repeated use of those postal abbreviations. Also, I live in Lexington, Virginia/Va./VA, and many of us here tend to be state specific since most people think first of the more illustrious Lexington, Kentucky. Someone once mentioned to me that there was a Charlottesville, Indiana that was not far from a Richmond, Indiana. I wasn’t curious enough to research that little tidbit, but perhaps there is another “C’ville” out there somewhere, which may be considered more of a nowhere as opposed to the important one here in Virginia. Anyway, it has been a blast, and you never know what you might learn from a clothing blog.

    Please pardon anything I have written that has made anyone feel unsafe, offended, insulted, perturbed, etc. I am always so pleased to run into gentlemen who are groomed, dressed well, and polite like the members of this lovely community.

    Yours in Lexington, Virginia/Va./VA


  29. Charles Dana | July 22, 2017 at 1:43 pm |

    Julia, you did nothing wrong. And should the grammar police, arrest warrant in hand, show up at your house in a fleet of armored vehicles, let me know–I’ll sneak over and help you board up your doors and windows, just like in Night of the Living Dead. I’ll even be sure to wear a cool button-down shirt like the character “Ben” (played by the actor Duane Jones) did in that movie. (RIP, George Romero.) Up with the button-down and down with the grammar police.

  30. S.E., the “Clifford” collar is not supposed to roll. I’m not sure if you’re trying to compare it to J. Crew’s tiny collar, which should have a roll since it is said to be based off of older OCBDs.

  31. I just stole 4 of these infernal copycats and doused them with gasoline. Was 2 seconds away from striking my match in the parking lot when a horde of store clerks rushed me; never thought such an emaciated group could muster such a wanton, blood boiled rage. Had to make a quick escape before the federales showed. Until next time.

  32. Charlottesville | July 25, 2017 at 2:14 pm |

    Ms. Grossman — I echo the sentiments above that you have nothing to apologize for. I note that I just ended a sentence with a preposition, so the grammar police may come after me as well. As for the delightful possibility of multiple Charlottesvilles, Alas, I know of only one.

  33. Michael Brady | August 3, 2017 at 3:56 pm |

    Getting back to the shirts…..yes, they are skimpy-looking in every aspect; in fact, even silly on a full-grown man. J. Crew men’s stuff mostly looks like what it is: clothing styled to look good in the store on a hanger with the sleeves casually rolled-up. They have a valid concept if they could just execute it outside of the realm of women’s sportswear.

  34. I would rather spend $15 on a Croft & Barrow dress shirt…maybe launder it soft and call myself $50 richer.

  35. gary byrne | May 11, 2021 at 2:18 pm |

    The best four fingers without doubt and made to measure are Charles Caine

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