Member Review – The Maybe-Not-So-New Brooks OCBD

The New OCBD from Brooks.
Editor’s Note:  Jack Lee is a member of the FB group who posted this review yesterday.  I will be posting other reviews as well as they come in, but his perspective is great. – JB

&nbsp

My 25th birthday is this week so I decided to treat myself with a trip to the local Brooks Brothers. The collar on my favorite blue university stripe shirt has frayed so bad that I was in need of a replacement and the marketing for Bastain’s new “Brooksier” oxford shirts has been effective on me (following expensive brands on Instagram has not been kind to my wallet). I tried on the small and medium, determined that the small worked best for me, and bought three colors of university stripe: blue, green, and pink.
Jack Lee – Happy Birthday!
I am no Brooks oxford expert, but I’ve handled a few of varying ages and fits so I can compare the new shirts to those. I typically wear a 15-34 Regent fit and the new shirts remind me of that fit. The sleeve is shorter, measured at 33.5 inches before washing, and in my experience Brooks shirts typically shorten about an inch after a few rounds in the washer and dryer so I’ve been hang drying these to maintain the longer sleeve. I tried on the medium (the pink stripe fitting room pic) but the fit was too billowy and long for my taste. I could have had them all tailored but I didn’t want to spend the extra money.
The new OCBD in a classic setting.
The material is actually fairly substantial and feels firmer than some of the older MIUSA Brooks shirts I own. The collar holds its shape throughout the day and has a pleasant roll when worn without a tie, although I didn’t see much roll when I put on a tie. The collar point measures 3.25 inches. I love the colors I bought, especially the green and pink because they seem to be rare for university stripe. The blue is a shade lighter than the shirt it was replacing and not as rich in color, but it’s still nicer than other brands I’ve owned. The cuffs have two buttons, whereas my others only have one.
 

Pros:
* Price is $90, which is just slightly more than what I used to pay for J. Crew shirts of much lower quality.
* The color selection is great. I love that I could find the pink and green.
* The fit isn’t too big or too small, but this is specific to me as a 5’10, 145lb person.
* The collar has a nice roll, but it looks better without a tie.
* A front pocket! Why did they take these off to begin with?

 

Cons:
* These are made in Vietnam. You can get some good quality products out of Asia, but there’s still something appealing about an iconic American company making products in America.
* S,M,L,XL sizing makes it harder to get a perfect fit. I know that the sleeves will eventually shrink on these and be too short.

 

Overall I like these shirts and might include a few new colors on this year’s Christmas list. I hope this is helpful to anyone curious about the new shirts. Let me know if I can answer questions.

31 Comments on "Member Review – The Maybe-Not-So-New Brooks OCBD"

  1. This reminds me of the 80s Wendy’s commercial with the famous catchphrase “Where’s the beef?”

    I am considering purchasing the new Brooks Brothers “fun” shirt, But when I saw the shirt in the store I said to myself “where’s the roll?” The collar roll is not the same as it used to be.

  2. A very informative review.

  3. Thank you for the informative review.

    While the Alpha sizing cuts their production costs while still appealing to the masses, I will not be purchasing any shirts form Brooks unless they add exact neck and sleeve sizes.

  4. My experience a few years ago was that alpha sized oxfords from BB either fit perfectly in the shoulders and neck with sleeves that are far too short or as though a fellow named Habib took time out of his day making tents to make a shirt. I will try again.

    Will

  5. Collar is lined, I presume?

  6. Agree wholeheartedly about the Alpha sizing. Given my dimensions, it’s either “exact” sizing by neck and sleeve or MTM for me. $90 but tailoring costs, and the extra time required, just don’t make sense for me individually.

  7. Meant to say “$90 plus tailoring costs.” Need more coffee.

  8. Henry Contestwinner | November 10, 2021 at 12:15 pm |

    Very informative review—thanks!

    You can get a custom shirt for about $100, so why bother with alpha-sized BB shirts that no longer have the collar roll?

  9. @Henry, no argument, other than to say that collar roll is elusive, even with MTM. Once again recommend Kamakura for both off the rack and MTM. Mercer’s ok too if you like spending more and wearing a tarp.

  10. Personally I’m willing to pay the premium for MiUSA shirts from O’Connells, Mercer or Gitman because I know I’m investing in a quality garment that’s going to look better, feel better and last longer than any of the outsourced stuff. You see where your money goes when you handle quality shirts in person: Single needle stitching (and higher stitch density), superior cloth and details like MOP buttons. Plus you’re supporting US businesses and employing skilled workers.

  11. Jim F,
    Speaking of coffee, I think in the Heyday, we usually drank Nescafé. I guess it’s called Nescafé Clásico now. Back then, it was just Nescafé. When we drank percolated coffee, it was probably Hills Bros. or Folgers. Maybe Maxwell House. Maybe somebody out there can remember.

  12. “@Henry, no argument, other than to say that collar roll is elusive, even with MTM. Once again recommend Kamakura for both off the rack and MTM. Mercer’s ok too if you like spending more and wearing a tarp.”

    Not true. So not true.
    There are at least two and probably three MTM options that can (will) nail the collar roll. It’s not so elusive, after all.

    Kamakura: eh.

    Mercer: it’s (super) easy to ask Mr. Mercer to adjust the bit so it doesn’t seem so, to borrow a clumsy phrase, “tarp-like.”

    Like, super easy.

  13. * fit, rather.

    “tarp-like.”
    a tad snarky– and gratuitous.

  14. MTM options. I’ll suggest:

    1. Individualized
    2. Gambert

  15. addendum:
    Both Gambert and Individualized can/will make a shirt according to a myriad of measurements/specs–this includes collar and cuff lining (zero is an option) and collar length. And the third collar (in the back) button. Gambert offers a unlined/unfused button down collar (model) that will please the pickiest of roll-seeking consumers. I think the MTM is around $130–and, as a plus, you’re buying made-in-the-U.S.A. Best I recall, they’re using beefy Japanese selvedge oxford cloth. Individualized has used Acorn for their “British Oxford”

    https://www.acornfabrics.com

  16. @S.E. re Individualized/ IAG, Spencer Hays was a friend. I’m well aware of them, but thanks for the addendum you so helpfully describe- which are simply table stakes for a solid MTM program.

    Re: Mercer, it’s probably easy to ask (David or Serena please, never Jennifer) for modifications to the standard pattern, but then one pays MTM pricing for a shirt with fewer measurement options.

  17. Thanks for taking the time to review the BB shirt.
    I find the alph sizing a deal breaker.
    I prefer J.Press for an off the rack shirt.

  18. NaturalShoulder | November 10, 2021 at 9:04 pm |

    @Rake – you are correct that the price of the Mercer does go up when modifying the fit but their fabrics selection cannot be beat. I have not found a better source for broadcloth or end-on-end fabrics which I prefer to oxford cloth.

    I am also awaiting an unfused and unlined OCBD from Juniors which I ordered on a visit to Philadelphia along with some other items

  19. Old Bostonian | November 10, 2021 at 10:02 pm |

    Mr Lee also knows how to choose eyeglass frames.
    Seen more closely here:
    https://www.ivy-style.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/94317585_2978392578874230_6439289556012367872_o.jpeg

  20. Great and helpful review Jack Lee. Thanks!
    I also bought a few examples of the new rollout of these shirts and am quite satisfied. Paul, the collars do not seem to be lined.

  21. @NaturalShoulder: Mercer does stock great fabric options – I am fond of their tattersalls.

  22. @Rake – agree 100% re. Mercer and how pleasant and easy it is to work with David or Serena. Just bought a number of basic white and blue OCBD’s from them (only took a couple of weeks from start to finish) and have been wearing them in my rotation ever since. Every time I call them and get David on the phone, I feel like I’m supporting a local business, even though I’m nowhere near Yarmouth or Bozeman. Plus, Mercer shirts really do become more beautiful with wear and age!

    As for coffee, I tend to be old school (which admittedly I do for most things.) Nescafe was the brand, even when I lived for a time overseas, and I still remember its rich, bitter taste with fondness.

  23. Charlottesville | November 11, 2021 at 11:18 am |

    Mr. Lee — Thanks for being the guinea pig for the new, new BB OCBD. If the fit works for you, it sounds like a good option.

    I have been pretty well pleased with the newer J. Press oxfords, in spite of the lightly lined collars, and the price is comparable during the annual sales. I also think Ratio is a good option for an OCBD at $89 with a customizable fit. One can specify an unlined collar, and there are are a lot of color options, as well as other types of fabric at higher prices. At this point I have quite a few shirts (arguably too many), so the subject is primarily of academic interest for me.

    Speaking of sales, the J. Press warehouse sale is on, and there are many bargains if you are lucky enough to find your size. I narrowly missed out on a brown Fair Isle sleeveless sweater, but managed to clean up on socks and classic, broadcloth pajamas, which are increasingly hard to find.

  24. I’ll echo the above remarks on J. Press shirts. I have several in the rotation (plus several Mercers). Good fit and nice collar roll on my fairly trim frame. Land’s End Hyde Park Oxfords are very nice too although more recent ones have skimpy collars.

    Kind Regards,

    H-U

  25. By the way, Jack
    Even though I find this BB shirt to be rather second rate, you look fine in them.

  26. You were paying almost $90 for a jcrew shirt? Instructive; thanks.

  27. $90 for a made in Vietnam “alpha sized” shirt? Ridiculous. I recommend everyone to try Spier and Mackay. They offer excellent OCBD’s at affordable prices (in fact, nearly everything they offer is top notch and the prices are unheard of for the kind of quality). Another option is Proper Cloth. For just a few more bucks you’ll have a custom shirt. They offer all the possible customizations you can think of, and they have the unlined collar option for any collar style. They have an excellent website and two beautiful locations in NYC. Forget about Brooks Brothers! As much as I want to support them, I simply can’t find anything that would impress me, either when visiting their stores in New York, or on their website. Everything is mediocre and overpriced. I was really hoping they will continue selling their excellent MIUSA Oxford shirts, but alas it’s not happening. And what’s with the shoes selection? There seems to be nothing left. That being said, I urge everyone to visit the Brooks Brothers Japan website and just randomly click on any category. You will be blown away. It’s like an entirely different company! I couldn’t believe my eyes.
    Also, they’re not opening a new flagship store in NYC. Currently, they have three locations in the city, one of which is in the Hudson Yards shopping mall. My favorite location is on Madison ave on the upper East Side. Maybe they will surprise us with something around Christmas? Just maybe.

  28. “$90 for a made in Vietnam “alpha sized” shirt? Ridiculous.”

    Agree…
    and I just learned that most Individualized retailers are around $130 for the basic oxfords. You, as a customer, may specify everything–including collar specs for the sake of the roll. I’d go with ‘Thistledown’ oxford cloth, sans lining and fusing, 3.5″ collar (point) length.

    P.S.: they had (bought?) the old Troy Shirtmakers Guild ‘papers’ (designs).

    Why/how Brooks continues to receive anything resembling positive attention — baffling.

  29. this said,
    I’ve been consistently pleased with the Gambert OCBD(s). Since the demise of Skip Gambert (R.I.P. and such a terrific shirt), Mitch (@Mel) has persevered gallantly. Kudos this well run NJ operation.

  30. IT — I hear where you and others are coming from, but for my money the Brooks shirts have never done me wrong. I have a few custom shirts from Spier, and while the value and options they offer for the price are outstanding, even their custom options are at the mercy of their house fit, which is quite slim. I sent them exact measurements (based on my favorite Brooks shirt) and received in return a very slim-fitting version that somehow still followed my measurements. This happened three times after checking and re-checking. I also once had several of their RTW oxford shirts, and while the quality was certainly there, the fit was again not right for me — mainly, the shirt tails were very short, meant for people who don’t tuck in their shirts. Spier makes beautiful stuff at a great price, though most of it is not very ivy. Worth a look, to be sure, but I keep returning to Brooks for shirts. $90 ain’t bad these days if it’s true-to-form and fits.
    *The much-discussed collar roll improves dramatically upon first washing — they shrink a tiny bit, which surprisingly seems to amplify it.

  31. One thing not mentioned about Brooks is the frequent sales, so you don’t have to pay full price if you are patient. Right now you get 30% off when you buy 3 items, and the sale includes the new OCBD. So right now if you buy three they are $62.65 each.

    I bought a few Spier polos – ok but kind of slim fitting. Would not buy again, better ones available at reasonable prices during sales. Will probably try a couple of their OCBD’s at some point, but I bought a bunch of BB’s at deep discount in early pandemic so am set for shirts for the next 5-10 years. I think Spier runs slim because they are manufactured in India if I am not mistaken. It’s a Canadian company run by a guy of Indian descent, who has some close connection with a manufacturer in India. So their sizing may be based on the local population, where there are not many people of robust stature.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


*