Describing a dress shirt.
September 29, 2009 2:25 AM   Subscribe

I'm sartorially clueless. How would you describe this kind of shirt? It's a "dress shirt", sure, but how would you specify the fabric and cut (particularly that type of collar)? Here is another example. I'm looking to buy some shirts like these but when I go to department stores I can only find this sort of thing - which is cut completely differently and uses an extremely thin fabric. Help me articulate the differences.
posted by phrontist to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (18 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
It's not a dress shirt. It's not appropriate for formal situations, the bowtie notwithstanding. It's a soft (not pointed) collar casual shirt.
posted by smorange at 2:47 AM on September 29, 2009

What you're looking for is something made with oxford cloth, which will traditionally have a button-down collar (an OCBD, if you will). Brooks Brothers made the original OCBD, and while you can do better quality-wise, they don't get any more classic.
posted by brozek at 2:54 AM on September 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

The fabric looks softer and thicker than a traditional dress shirt, check out oxford weave or "oxford" shirts.
posted by fire&wings at 2:55 AM on September 29, 2009

Wittgenstein's Pop-collar.

According to this, he always wore "a flannel shirt open at the throat". Here it's just an "open-necked shirt". Here it's a "grey shirt of the continental type with two buttons at the collar". Also something about autistic Wittgenstein attire here.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:02 AM on September 29, 2009 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: turgid dahlia: Yeah, I've read several descriptions like these, but they generally conflict. The flannel suggestion is interesting though...
posted by phrontist at 3:18 AM on September 29, 2009

This site lets you design exactly the shirt you want, and offers the oxford weave that brozek and fire&wings are referring to. If also shows examples of different styles of specific components of the shirt, like the collar, cuff, pocket, tail, etc. So, if you don't want to order from them, at least click on the examples and it will help you get the shirt terminology to use when shopping on your own.
posted by marsha56 at 3:19 AM on September 29, 2009

I too was going to say it looked like flannel, or a more dense cotton. Much more dense than the standard Oxford you'd get in stores, if it's an oxford weave at all. Check out something like a uniform store or a Farm and Fleet for the Dickies line, or for generic light flannel...?

(FYI- it is a pointed collar. The "point" is the tip of the collar. A peter pan collar has rounded points, varying to none at all. A priest's collar has square points. Your point about the fold of the collar from the neck band being roundy and thus making it not a dress shirt is true, however.
posted by gjc at 3:46 AM on September 29, 2009

Here's a twill shirt that is definitely going to be thicker than a standard dress shirt. They are in the "casual shirts" section of the site. They carry oxford shirts too which I think is more like the second (third?) photo you linked to.
posted by cabingirl at 5:21 AM on September 29, 2009

I just found this description of OCBD (Oxford Cloth Button-Down) shirts, complete with a photo of Cary Grant wearing one, which is evocative and detailed.
posted by amtho at 5:29 AM on September 29, 2009

The third looks to be just an oxford cloth. The first two might fall under the auspices of "work shirts" -- J. Peterman example, and check out J. Crew; note distinctions between dress, oxford, "utility." I would ask for a "good quality men's thick cotton casual or work shirt" and see what the salesman came up with. Googling for "chamois" shirts might get you somewhere if I grok the old-fashioned thickness you're looking for.
posted by kmennie at 5:35 AM on September 29, 2009

American Apparel (yes, yes, I know) recently added similar-looking shirts to its lineup. I have a couple and they're really great.
posted by aparrish at 5:47 AM on September 29, 2009

Ralph Lauren makes a lot of these oxford shirts too.
posted by mullacc at 5:59 AM on September 29, 2009

The Bowtie one doesn't seem to be a button Down colar though. Is it just the thicker almost flannel material?

is that not also known as brushed cotton?
posted by mary8nne at 7:46 AM on September 29, 2009

One thing that might help is that in the department store, these shirts will not be pinned up and bagged in the Dress Shirt section. They're most likely going to be on hangers, and found with the more casual style clothing.
posted by Jemstar at 8:10 AM on September 29, 2009

They're Oxfords. We used to call them "preppy shirts" growing up because you'd always find them at places like Brooks Brothers, Polo, and J. Crew, and they were almost always blue or white. Places like Gap and Banana Republic probably carry them in their fall lines.
posted by mkultra at 8:19 AM on September 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

The first pics are soft collar cotton shirts as opposed to the starched collar type of shirt that the poplin (crisp fabric) no wrinkle shirt. The first is casual; the second, a bit more formal, for business. Nthing the Brooks Brothers, J. Crew, Polo suggestions. If you ever wear a tie with the soft cotton shirt, don't pic a shiny business tie, but go for a rough texture like wool or slubbed cotton (not silk) or leather/suede.
posted by x46 at 8:56 AM on September 29, 2009

The button down oxford shirt was a staple of my preppy high school. Along with madras and seersucker (God help us.) topsiders, and those horrible LL Bean two-tone duck boots. And yeah, the button down oxford was usually that very shade of blue from the third photo, white, or sometimes pink. The pink seemed to work best when worn with the madras.

The first two shots, for what it's worth, appear to be an entirely different animal. And frankly all I can tell from those shots is that it has a collar and is unbuttoned.

Oh, and carrying around a lacrosse stick even though we did not have a team.
posted by Naberius at 10:35 AM on September 29, 2009

smorange, the American use of "dress shirt" (the term, that is) is different from the traditional/English meaning. From my understanding, it just means what might be called a shirt - i.e. collared, long sleeved, as opposed to something you'd wear with your DJ.
posted by djgh at 6:22 PM on September 29, 2009

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