Images by John Hook

The definition of essential is “basic or indispensable, vitally important; absolute necessity.”  If there is one object of clothing that is essential to a man’s wardrobe, it is the oxford-cloth button-down, or OCBD as it’s known to enthusiasts.

When Brooks Brothers introduced the OCBD back around 1900, the shirt instantaneously became an American classic. The style was borrowed from English polo player uniforms, which utilized buttons on the collar to keep them from flapping from the wind. Brooks Brothers took the polo collar and added it to their oxford-cloth sport shirts, and the rest is history: The OCBD became a staple at every East Coast university, and by the 1950s it became somewhat of a uniform for style icons such as Paul Newman, Miles Davis, and JFK.

What makes the OCBD so great is its versatility. It looks equally great under blazers and sport jackets, with sweaters and cardigans, tucked into a pair of well-worn jeans or untucked with rolled-up sleeves over chinos or shorts. Oxford cloth is essentially a woven cotton cloth, which is comfortable and extremely durable, even getting better with age and wear. You can wear it to a fancy dinner or to a picnic at the beach for years and years to come.

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The pictured OCBD is a collaboration by Taylor Stitch and Leather Soul. It has a tailored fit with higher armholes and features single-stitch construction; double-stitched, hand-selected bone buttons; and no pleats for easy ironing and a clean look. Available at Leather Soul Downtown, $130.

Tom Park is the founder and owner of Leather Soul. For questions on style or tailoring, contact him at info@leathersoul.com.