At work I sometimes wear button down oxford cloth shirts. Usually white, but some light blue. I’ve found that LL Bean makes a great oxford shirt, 100% cotton with a nice substantial weight to it (I like the looks and the quality much better than Lands’ End, which I gave up on as they got worse and worse in an effort to keep the price at some point). They used to have regular and non-wrinkle, but now everything is non-wrinkle (or wrinkle resistant). I have the shirts done at a cleaner so I don’t have to iron them either way. I ironed my own shirts for maybe a year or two before giving up and paying the dollar or so per shirt to have someone else take care of them. Another really nice shirt from LL Bean is their pinpoint oxford shirt which has much finer threads that give the fabric a slight sheen, almost like silk. In white, it isn’t that noticeable, but it is really nice with light blue. But LL Bean now charges $50 for that shirt (looks like now they are charging $40 for the regular oxford; I think I last paid $34.50).


Anyway, I was looking for places to buy a suit and a blazer to replace my old ones, and doing research on the internet. I’ll write about that later, but one thing I saw was that people were raving about Brooks Brothers oxfords. I don’t doubt they are great shirts, but they are $95, and maybe you can get them on sale for about $60 (3 for $167 for Columbus Day, usually 3 for $225). A lot of people like their pinpoint oxford (which is actually a little cheaper at $65), but their regular oxford is the one they are more famous for. Joseph A Bank has oxfords that aren’t as good as Brooks Brothers, but are supposed to be okay on a budget (and on sale: right now their $87 shirt is on sale for buy one get two free; their list prices are insane, but everything is always deeply discounted).

There are a ridiculous number of combinations for men’s dress shirts. First they measure by neck and sleeve length, so you get different neck measurements and multiply that by a number of different sleeve lengths. There are at least 26 different combinations at Jos A Bank (Brooks Bros has over 50). But then you can get french cuff (for cuff links) or barrel sleeve (with buttons). Then you can get at least 2 different types of collars, including button down and spread collars (JAB also has a pointed collar). But then they also come in different fits. Traditional shirts seems to be very bulky, so Jos A Bank has tailored fit which has a smaller waist, and slim fit, which is a little tighter all over (Brooks has 4 different fits, including extra slim). Internet people talk about having parachutes of extra material on their backs with the traditional fit. 26 different neck and sleeve length combinations times 2 sleeves times 3 collars times 3 fits gives you 468 shirts. That’s 468 white shirts. Now try colors. JAB has 11 solid colors and lots of different stripes plus some checks. That’s over 5,000 solid color shirts. And without trying one on, I still had no idea if I should be getting regular, tailored, or slim fit. I think regular was probably out, but tailored or slim might work. It’s kind of hard to tell because people on the internet talk about what works for them, but I don’t know if they are skinny or fat or whatever. They all seem to claim to be very slim body builders.

It probably is no surprise that when I went to the Jos A Bank store today, they didn’t have all 5,000 different shirts. I wanted button down, but that’s mostly for people who aren’t wearing ties, so a lot of collars are spread or pointed (spread seems to be the most common, intended to go with suits). And since the fabric is kind of a pinpoint (doesn’t quite have the sheen of LL Bean’s pinpoint, but definitely has a finer texture than Bean’s regular oxford), I figured light blue would be best. Honestly their white seemed kind of thin to me (they let me try an opened tailored fit white shirt with cuff sleeves, establishing that tailored fit would be fine). I thought maybe light purple would be good and possibly french blue (medium blue). There was a time when I might have liked pink, but I’m over that now. I could only find one blue button down in my size with tailored fit and button sleeves; I didn’t even look at white. So I bought it and the guy was nice enough to take 2/3 off the price since they didn’t have any others that I wanted in order to get 2 free. I also picked up some of their boxers which are 100% cotton and not a bad price when you buy 1 and get two free. So that will be a good sampler and if the shirt holds up I will get some more.

One thought on “Shirts

  1. re: “There was a time when I might have liked pink, but I’m over that now.”

    No that there’s anything wrong with that. (I have a pink tie. Goes nicely with a gray suit and white shirt.)

    I started getting anything that says “tailored” to get rid of all the extra material in the sides and arms. When I first did this Kelly said, “Look at Dad! I didn’t know he had a figure!” (That kid will always keep me off guard.)

    I tried going no button-down with collar stays one year. Wore those for two years. Went back to button down. I like button down open collar or tie.

    I’m in the market for some new shirts. One of my favorite is a Land’s End L.L. Bean oxford with a blue/gray pin stripe. It’s the thick material you mentioned, and doesn’t feel cheap. I wish I could get a green, red, yellow, and orange of the same shirt with the same stripe pattern, but they don’t make them.

    I still wear one or two of the blue shirts you gave me about 10 years ago. Getting quite thin, but are good for jeans day at work.

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