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How An Oxford Shirt Should Fit

Is your shirt too tight? Is your shirt too loose? If you don’t know how an Oxford shirt should fit, read this how to guide.

So you are looking to purchase an Oxford shirt, but the fit might be throwing you off, don’t worry we are here to help. There are four main areas where a shirt might be awkward in the fitting department. Everyone knows how to wear a shirt but maybe don’t know how a shirt should fit. The importance of shirt fitting is astronomical to say the least, if you are going to buy an ill fitting shirt then you might as well save your money. We will take you through a step by step guide on how your shirts should fit, with simple do’s and don’ts to keep you on track, then finally we’ll go onto basic styling for the most popular colours. Enjoy!

The Oxford Shirt

Well the Oxford shirt has a long history, originally made in the 19th century by Scottish fabric mills (nope not Oxford ones). It was one of the four fabric made after universities, Yale, Cambridge and Harvard also got their own twill but now cease to exist.

What Is an Oxford Shirt?

But, what is an Oxford Shirt you ask? Well an Oxford shirt is defined by the Oxford weave . This is a basket-weave pattern that combines two yarns woven lengthwise against a heavier yarn crosswise (oftentimes in a different colour to give it a distinctive pattern), or vice-versa. Though now some of these shirts are made with synthetic fabrics, majority of the time the look is still kept to the distinctive Oxford style.

Feature- Norse Projects Oxford Shirts

Feature- Norse Projects Oxford Shirts


Virtually all formal shirts are categorised on the measurement of collar size so you shouldn’t be getting this wrong. They go up by about half an inch in measurement so you should have a near perfect fit around the neck.

When You Know It’s Too Tight:

You know you collar is too tight when you are having to explain to your girlfriend the suspect marks around your neck. This means the collar is rubbing into your neck – a big no no.

When You Know It’s Too Loose:

In extreme cases it looks like a dog collar and the tie turns from just leading role to supporting act & director. Basically, the tie has to do all the work to keep you all together. Do the finger test, if you can fit one around the neck then the collar is too loose and you might need to consider a different size.


Shoulders are sometimes a problem because if you were a swimmer when you were younger you will have broad shoulders, or if you were sat in front of a games console, you won’t. The shoulders bridge on to the arms and will have a knock on effect to the sleeves. The perfect fit would be when the vertical shoulder seam sits at the edge of the shoulder. In the instance of an average person this will allow no tugging or twisting on the shoulder seam, when rotating the arm.

When You Know It’s Too Tight:

The seam sits too much into the chest, not allowing an effortless rotation of the arm. I can’t see it being a major issue as you wouldn’t be fast bowling in a shirt but when a wasp decides you’re the one, limited swing action will see you stung.

When You Know It’s Too Loose:

The seam will be down the arm and will look like a throwback to the way 90’s rappers used to wear their T-shirts. Unless you are anticipating weight gain, there is no need for an XL when you’re a medium.

Chest and Torso

If you are pumping iron in the gym, you may have a bigger chest than your waist and stomach, this means you body proportions might be the high street standard. You might have to consider going tailor made to get the perfect fit shirt. Most brands have different styles and fits so it is worth trying on a few as you might get lucky. The perfect fit oxford shirt should not be pulling on the buttons, but rest gently on your chest. The shirt should streamline down your sides and have no excess hanging over – we aren’t trying to create an imaginary muffin top here people.

When You Know It’s Too Tight:

If you have the constant need to breath in then the chances are your shirt doesn’t fit. If your chest feels like it might breakout of your top (Superman style), then it’s safe to say you need the size up.

When You Know It’s Too Loose:

If you look like a kid in their dads shirt chances are the fit it is way too big – even if you are going for the oversized look (which I would not advise with a formal shirt). Bare in mind you shirt should skim the body not leave you looking like a parachute.

Sleeve Length

For the rapper 2 Chainz or Boxer Tyson Fury, this need not matter as they have arms that go beyond the confines of normal sleeve length (or even longer sleeve length). For the rest of us it is important, as nobody ever wants to be asked ‘oh nice, where did you get a ¾ length shirt from?’ The perfect length sleeve should be measured by where the watch is positioned on your wrist. If it’s placed well then the sleeve should cover maybe ½ or ¾ of the clock face so when somebody asks the time, the sleeve is adjustable at the first attempt to answer ‘time you got a watch.’

When You Know It’s Too Long:

You look like you did when you were eight years old, trying on your dad’s shirt with your arms not long enough to make it to the end, so you were able to flap the sleeves like duck wings. Maybe an exaggeration but if you can see more than ½ inch of cuff then it’s too long.

When You Know It’s Too Short:

When a shirt is too short it’s usually because everything else is too tight. Not often do you get a shirt that fits good but the sleeves are too short. Just remember if it does fall well beyond the reach of the watch or wrist, then it’s definitely too short.

Fits and Types

So now we have gone through, in detail, how an Oxford shirt should fit we are going to look at the different styles you can find on the market that adhere to your proportions.

Slim Fit Oxford Shirt

Most people assume they need a slim fit shirt, especially in they are in the office and are tucking it in often. This is because there is an assumption that if you have a slim fit shirt then it will taper to the body easier. However, this is false and even a regular fit shirt can fit your body perfectly, you just need to get the right size If you body type belongs to that of slim, slender or lean then you may need a slim fit shirt. This is due to the excess material at the sides of the shirts that cause a muffin top effect after being tucked in. The sides of a slim fit shirt are tapered and have less material than that of a regular shirt. They also tend to have slimmer arms to account for slimmer muscles.

Long Sleeve Oxford Shirt & Short Sleeve Oxford Shirt

Now this is all pretty self explanatory but it is still worth noting that the Oxford shirt comes with the normal options of short sleeves and long sleeves. The short sleeve look is perfect for summer, especially for those of us that love to opt for the preppy look.

Oxford Shirt Outfits

So now we have gone through the basic’s on how the shirt should fit, it’s worth having a quick look at some basic styling this way you can never go wrong with your Oxford shirt.

White Oxford Shirt

So lets start with the most obvious and the most versatile, the white Oxford shirt. You can wear this colour in a formal way right down to casual, it all depends on how you style it. For a summer chic look I advise throwing on a statement jacket and bold glasses and some nice loafers.

Blue Oxford Shirt

Now I’m going to let you in on a little secret, a blue shirt is not just for the office. Some of the best street style include colour matching with a blue shirt – think olives, browns and beiges to make the look more casual. You can even get into the art of layering your blue shirt to make it an added extra to a stylish outfit.

Black Oxford Shirt

Now what I am about to say in very important, when wearing a black shirt you need to avoid the dad look at all costs. It is not ok to wear boot cut jeans, worker boots and a black shirt in any occasion. The easiest way to pull this off is to keep it monochrome. All black can never look bad especially if you are wearing head to toe tailoring.

Red Oxford Shirt

Now we move into the murky waters of styling, the abstract colours for the stylish men who want to stand out. Now red Oxford shirts aren’t the most prominent colour on the market, but they are out there. Coloured shirts look great in the summer and can be styled in many different ways. Depending on the shade of red I would say the easiest way to style your shirt is with dark denim black or blue.

Your Quick Guide to Oxford Shirts

  1. Fit is the most important thing to consider, first get yourself measured up so you know what size to go for
  2. Try it on! or opt for shops with free returns, that way you know the item fits before you are parting with money perminately
  3. Your collar should sit around your neck but not be strangling you or letting you tie do all the work
  4. When looking at your shoulders make sure the seam sits close to your chest to ensure flexibility and movement  The chest of your shirt should have a bit of room, you don’t want to be popping buttons in public
  5. Your sleeves should cover you wrist when in a neutral position, remember the watch rule

On That Note…

So now (I hope) you know the ins and outs of the Oxford shirt. Whether dressed up or dressed down the most important thing to remember is the fit. This might not seem like an obvious thing, but it’s the difference between looking amazing or just looking a bit frumpy. You will know when a shirt fits and when it doesn’t, so stick your instincts and remember to reference this guide.