Oxford Alternative: The Long-Sleeve Buttondown Knit Shirt

kama shirt

Are you such a clotheshorse that you’ll remember an outfit you saw on a mannequin a year ago? Well I remember browsing the Ralph Lauren Rhinelander mansion last spring and spotting an ensemble that made me stop and scrutinize. It was a gold-buttoned navy blazer paired with a white buttondown, no tie. But upon closer inspection, the shirt was not oxford cloth or other dress-shirt material, but the kind of knit fabric you find in a polo shirt. The elegant wool blazer paired with a top that was dress-shirt in form but sport shirt in fabric made for a stylish contrast. The rest of the outfit featured something like seersucker pants and a striped belt, and the whole thing made you want to sip a gin-and-tonic beside a body of water or grass tennis court.

As we never get tired of saying, the combination of formal and casual is one of the chief charms of this genre of dressing. So if you enjoy the unexpected as much as the tried-and-true, consider a the long-sleeved buttondown knit. — CC

13 Comments on "Oxford Alternative: The Long-Sleeve Buttondown Knit Shirt"

  1. Shad M. Jeffrey II | June 26, 2016 at 2:04 pm |

    I’ve been quite tempted to try one from Uncle Ralph. The knit fabric stretches just like an ordinary polo shirt so it would be interesting to have that same quality in a sport shirt.

  2. Hands down, Kamakura. Nice collar!!

  3. I bought one for my grandmother, she loves it. She says it’s very comfortable and sturdy with just the right amount of strechiness. Also Ralph’s has mother-of-pearl buttons.

  4. Chewco L.P. (master) | June 26, 2016 at 6:20 pm |

    I have a few from RL; solid and striped colors. Definitely recommend – especially in this weather. They are stretchy and more comfortable than wearing linen shirts. Don’t expect collars to roll (they won’t).

  5. They’re a great alternative for the man with multiple shirts but just like all tops made out of this cloth, shrinking and yellowing out the underarms on the white ones quickly can become an issue if you’re not the type to obsess over the care of your clothing.

  6. Old Bostonian | April 30, 2021 at 5:47 pm |

    After I tried a buttondown collar shirt in broadcloth, I never thought of returning to Oxford cloth.

  7. Charlottesville | April 30, 2021 at 9:13 pm |

    It looks rather nice in the picture, but on the whole, I think not, for me at least. A standard, must-iron, OCBD is already a sport shirt co-opted for semi-dress duty. The different weights of oxford cloth provide a great deal of choice, although I find much to agree with in the comment of Old Bostonian. I wore a lightweight broadcloth shirt from Polo yesterday (blue-on-white grid check with a plain point collar, with a bow tie), and it was quite comfortable. I used to be able to find must-iron button-downs in a very lightweight pinpoint oxford cloth, but am no longer sure where to find them. That was my old summer standby.

  8. whiskeydent | May 1, 2021 at 5:53 am |

    Old Trad
    OCBD shut down his blog some time ago, but he is delivering similar content on Instagram. It’s fewer words and more pictures.

  9. I picked up a few of a similar model at a Brooks Brothers sale a while ago for $32 each. They’re well worth that. And because I live in California now (only 10 more months to go!), where wearing a clean t-shirt counts as dressing up, people have generally been impressed by them. I wouldn’t expect the same reaction out east.

  10. John Carlos | May 1, 2021 at 2:01 pm |

    Charlottesville- I agree with you when it comes to a must iron OCBD. No substitute for one.

  11. Charlottesville | May 3, 2021 at 4:25 pm |

    John Carlos – I wore an ironed, white BB OCBD and silk/wool/linen sport coat out to dinner last night with khakis and no tie, and was quite comfortable on an 80 degree evening. I imagine it is probably a bit warmer down your way even in April.

  12. Chancellorsville | May 4, 2021 at 11:40 am |

    Charlottesville – I’m located not too far from you and was wondering if you’d share the name of your tailor. Thanks.

  13. Charlottesville | May 5, 2021 at 1:36 pm |

    Chancellorsville – For many years I was fortunate to have a great German craftsman who had been a master tailor with L. Greif & Bros., but he died a few years ago. He was the very best, and a fully qualified custom tailor who excelled at meticulous handwork.

    These days for everyday work (repairs, buttons, hems, cuffs, sleeve length and taking in or letting out the waist of a jacket or pants and even tapering the legs of pants) I use Kim’s Alterations at 112 West Main St. on the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville. She is quite good and her rates are reasonable.

    I have used the tailor that Eljo’s uses for a few more delicate jobs, but he will only work on new, previously unaltered clothing and does not generally agree to work for individuals, preferring to limit himself to serving retailers. For custom suits, I used to use Angelo Abatzis at Geoffrey Lewis in Washington, but I have not had anything made in roughly 12 years. His son is in the business with him now and they are very nice people if you are ever in the market for something a bit different. He made my DB blazer, which I quite like, even though I generally stick with the single breasted Ivy silhouette.

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