02 September 2010

The Blind Oxford Tasting

The idea was to review another staple like a chino. I picked the blue oxford button down for many reasons. One was the wide variance of blue oxford by makers. A shallow light blue in one shirt while another may have a deep blue that goes on forever.

It's an everyday shirt that can be dressed up or down. Few are made in the US and those that are will set you back. I allowed one off shore shirt and one alpha sized shirt. The results between these two are surprising.

Each shirt had all tags removed and was numbered 1-5. I washed the shirts three times and then had them professionally laundered with no starch. The shirts were issued at a lunch I hosted last week at a nice little Italian place where I had an amazing plate of grilled octopus but that's another story.

Robert Bryan and G. Bruce Boyer returned as judges after their success with the Blind Chino Tasting. This time our judges wore the shirts thanks to a criticism rightfully made about sizes with the chinos. And like everything else, what fits one judge perfectly does not fit another as you'll see.

I didn't get any shirts but I got to take all the labels off - - which was more fun than you can imagine.


TC said...

Tin - are you going to reveal your favorite?

Makaga said...

Thanks for doing this, TinTin.
May need to take more time this evening and read through all of the comparisons before heading out with a shopping list.
Any brand you recommend for the slimmer/scrawnier fella?

tintin said...

It's all about fit and personal likes. Me? I thought the Hyde Park was damned good but I'm much more impressed with Brooks. You need a lot of shirts - go with Lands' End. Or, spend what it'll cost for 2 Lands' End shirts and buy 1 Brooks shirt. I like to see Brooks Brothers on the label and Made in the US versus Made in Maylasia but that's me. Brooks is Best Value.

Most Traditional is O'Connell's. Well cut and I like the sleeves. Heavy oxford that screams for a heavier khaki. Thunky. Is that a word? It is now. Thunky and rich and not too expensive but not too rich either.

Best Overall is Mercer. It is the perfect replica of a Brooks Bros shirt (circa 1985) when I worked for them. Unlined collar. Full cut. Beautiful fabric. Hard to go wrong what with the bells and whistles David Mercer'll throw in.

Tom Buchanan said...


This was a really good experiment.

I would have loved to get the judges' views on fit other than width. For example, on me, I think the BB collar hits too low, and the yoke was awfully narrow/shallow a few years back. I realize that you were not writing a book though.

Also surprising how far Gitman has fallen. Gitman used to have a very substantial and quality shirt.

So did you have to buy 10 shirts and lunch?


TC said...

@tintin -

I'm glad you hit on the differences in the cut of each shirt. This is topic which for some reason always grabs my attention whenever it comes up.

I've never been a fan of the big, billowy cut... but I'm slowly starting to become one. I recently purchased three slim fit OCBDs from Brooks, and they're great shirts, don't get me wrong. Yet the more I wear them, the more I notice a snugness across the yoke whenever I cross my arms or rest my elbows on my desk. I'm in my mid-twenties so I thought slim fit was the right call, but I now know that I should have opted for a fuller cut. Comfort is king, after all.

Lesson learned, for sure...but buyer's remorse is a bitch.

~Tessa~Scoffs said...

Can we get back to booze and sex now?

TRVS said...

You haven't had octopus until you've had it in an authentic Portuguese restaurant...trust me on this one. Oh, this is about shirts, right.

frank pepe said...

great stuff. is heavier better all considered?

Anonymous said...

The double-track stitching on LE's collar edge is a vestige of Gary Comer's '80s LE copying the style of Ashland Shirt Company's "Bert Pulitzer" branded shirts of the early '70s - later branded Gitman Bros. This also included the use of milky white buttons. Bert Pulitzer/Gitman was a mainstay of better quality men's speciality stores as well as privately labeled for Paul Stuart and SAKS, amongst others. Several shirt companies of the era, such as Norman, Kenneth Gordon and Nantucket, also copied the double track collar & milky buttons. The Gitman often displayed a TTX (Threadtex) fabric label in the collar. Although Gitman of the era had double-needle side and sleeve seams its front placket and collar stitching approached Charvet in density. No so now, even the "Vintage" line which is supposed to be a resurrection of the 70s/80s stuff.

Gotta go milk chickens.


tintin said...

Tom- everyone is gonna have a body type and neck that's gonna work here but not there. Hopefully, we've given folks a starting point.

I don't know much about Gitman. Never saw them that much in the south I grew up in although Tater gives a good lesson on the connect to B Pulitzer which I did see in the south I grew up in.

The shirts were donated by the entrants but I did get stuck with lunch. Small price for Robert and Bruce's volunteer work.

TC - It's not just about comfort. For me, and this is me, the full cut shirt speaks to the unlined collar and wrinkles of a shirt. I like it over a non iron fitted shirt that looks perfect through out the day.

That rumpled Brooks shirt with the unlined collar and bagginess spoke to the look I wanted as far back as the '80s. Natural fabrics wrinkle and that's part of their charm. What's also charming is the billow of the classic Brooks OCBD shirt on a young man in good shape. When that was me, I would tuck the shirt in and pull excess to the back so the billow was over the back of my trosuers. Brook's oxford over a alligator strap belt is a beautiful thing.

Tessa- I promise.

TRVS- been meaning to get back out to the Iron Bound area in Newark for Portugese. Long overdue.

frank pepe- For me it is.

Tater- Thank you. Great info. The DI isn't so bad on white but it looks a little rustic in the blue. K Gordon cranked out a great shirt that I had lot of in the early 90s thanks to a relation who worked at Neiman Marcus. I do remember they didn't stand up well to my dose of heavy starch. My fault - not theirs.

Gerard said...

I have to say, the chino deal was better--more flair more . . . reason to tune in. The oxfords - not so much. How about Ralph? Actually, let's face it, nonoe of them are really worth anything. The '80s Brooks was a 4 bagger in a world of posers and now they pose themselves. Get yourself some MTMs based on NOS and treat yourself to the real deal. My all time fave was the Sero Purist, but then maybe I am just exacting for this day and age.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for not including the L.L. Bean OCBD in the blind tasting.

Hilton said...

What is your take on the J. Press OCBD with flap pocket? I picked one up at the recent sale. Thank you, sir.