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The Oxford button-down shirt

BUTTON-DOWN Shirt - Jodhpur Blue Stripes

Classically, an oxford shirt is made of oxford cloth, typically a basket weave pattern that is softer, comfortable, of greater durability, generally wrinkling less than the typical dress shirt. Also characteristic is a button-down collar. The oxford straddles informal dressing and formal occasions. Team it up with anything from a sweatshirt to a sport coat.

Wearing a tie with one is not frowned upon, but seldom done. One may wear an oxford shirt, open at the neck, with a single-breasted suit. It is a canny piece of clothing that somehow stiffens up any super-casual ensemble.

The oxford has become a smart-casual staple of men’s wardrobes, lending its polish to every level of “dressing up” and dressing down. That means it is seen at brunches and gala evenings and at home, even with flip-flops on and friends dropping in for a beer.

This style of shirting seems to underpin the modern guy’s shirt game.

How to wear it

With shorts, to all the way up to a suit. An oxford shirt dresses up your profile even when you have flip-flops and bermudas. It’s the irreplaceable third to a blazer and formal pants, for a unstuffy formal look. Drape your favourite sweater on one. Or don’t. Show off you oxford – that’s what it's meant for.

The Bush Shirt
Patch pockets. A utilitarian trait of the bush shirt.

Hot weather and its demands on folk who worked outdoors led to the development of this garment. The bush shirt's natural air-conditioning starts at the remarkably unstructured camp collar. The buttons start lower. The entire garment is generally tailored roomier.

It is moot as to who latched on to this celsius-tamer first.

Central American farmers? The British Army’s Africa corps? What is undisputable is, many of India’s bureaucrats and businessmen in the ‘70s and ‘80s made it their uniform, sticking to the classic four-pocket version, adding on trousers of an identical hue. This nondescript yet somehow villain-making get-up came to be known as the safari suit. Some folk, especially conservationists, chose to go with only the shirt.

How to wear it

A roundneck tee underneath is fine, but this shirt is about chest hair, not the modern man's penchant for depilation. We wouldn’t wear anything too boxy on top with it, your blazer or jacket should be just as breezy. Our bush shirts are of high threadcount cotton – what’d be the point otherwise? Rest assured that we are putting in some detailing that will likely make you more charismatic than anyone who has ever donned a safari suit.

The Band-collar Shirt
Our band collar in a khadi-linen blend.

Before rockstars and the off-beat co-worker across you cottoned on to the band collar shirt, it was the collar of choice for priests, farmers, miners and a lot of other gentlemen, unsavoury and perfectly legitimate, starting in the early 19th century.

There is a sinister, assertive cool to this breed of shirt collar.

A part of its appeal draws from the screen time it has enjoyed. All manner of period dramas have employed it as a pivotal character. Consider Eli Sunday, the preacher played by Paul Dano in “There will be Blood”, for instance. Maybe it is the button on it – lacking in the mandarin collar, that helps it stand out.

How to wear it

Bear in mind that buttoning up and leaving your shirt untucked, even with a pair of jeans on, makes a statement on its own. If the rest of your get-up is formal – say with a sweater, or a jacket and khakis, leave a couple of buttons undone. The band collar is about potent swagger in the lift of a buttonhole.

The Nehru Jacket
Statement russet brown nehru jacket.

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was great at telegraphing the distinctive flair of Indian clothes to the world at large. The Nehru jacket breaks off at the hip, sports a mandarin collar and its front is modelled on the achkan and bandhgala. Peace-loving young people - influenced by the beatnik vibe in the West, took up the Nehru jacket as a gesture of solidarity, in the face of Sino-Indian conflict in the ‘60s. Now, braced by our collective muscular Indianness and topped up with pocket squares, this item redeems tons of clueless but well-intentioned young men in a trice.

How to wear it

The nehru jacket is a comfort zone for lots of us who want to be well-clad, without having to fuss too much. Keep it open and wear a band-collar shirt underneath. Use it as a classic third to a churidar and kurta. Wear it with a button-down shirt and denim even; this garment is not only forgiving, it mixes well.

The Shawl Lapel Tuxedo Jacket
A shawl collar tuxedo jacket.

Even if one were to wear a shawl collar twice in a lifetime, “Everybody at that soiree will agree this is the spiffiest you’ve looked.”

This kind of collar is easily the most formal and grandest of any, on a tuxedo.

Completely rounded with no notches on either side, this style of lapel best shows off trimmer body types. The material on the lapel, usually silk or satin, matches a silk button on the tux and a vertical silk stripe down the tuxedo trouser. The entire get-up will outclass your day-to-day suit.

How to wear it

Tie on a bowtie, black, white or florid and patterned, around your wing collar shirt or dress shirt. Patent leather black shoes go best with it. You could tie a cummerbund around your waist as well. After all a tux means you’re celebrating something.

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