The Royal Oxford Shirt

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Royal-Oxford-Shirt
Pierce Brosnan wears a royal oxford shirt with his charcoal suit in the opening scene in The World Is Not Enough

The royal oxford shirt should be more popular than it is. Though Bond has primarily worn poplin shirts throughout the series, Pierce Brosnan wears royal oxford shirts from Turnbull & Asser in Tomorrow Never Dies and The World Is Not Enough. All oxford cloths are basket weaves, from the finer pinpoint to the heavier standard oxford cloth, but the royal oxford is a more elaborate weave than the others and has a diagonal effect along with the basket weave look. Whilst royal oxford is the dressiest of the oxford cloths, it can be effectively made into both dressier and sportier shirts. Pierce Brosnan usually wears his with double cuffs, but in The World Is Not Enough he wears a royal oxford shirt with button-cuffs and an open collar with his herringbone linen suit.

Royal-OxfordRoyal oxford is just below poplin in formality and can be worn for the same purposes, whilst twills and other oxfords are all progressively lower in formality depending on the size of the texture. Unlike poplin, royal oxford irons very easily and doesn’t crease so readily. The floated yarns in the weave mean that it wrinkles less, but they also make royal oxford a softer cloth. If you’re used to non-iron shirts but want something more luxurious, a regular royal oxford shirt may be the best shirt to get. Royal oxford is also a heavier cloth than poplin, but the weave is open so it breathes very well. It is one of the most versatile shirtings whilst also being one of the most practical.

30 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve always worn poplin shirts until a year ago, when I bought an oxford shirt from Massimo Dutti. I originally bought it to wear as a casual shirt, but the construction was so nice and the non-wrinkling properties became evident so quickly that I started to wear it with my suits. And the ease of ironing really is incredible. It certainly appears “finer” than what I’m used to oxford cloth shirts looking like (I’ve never like OCBD shirts) so now I’m a convert.

    The one thing that I don’t find is any perceptible difference in breathability. I’ve often read about how certain weaves or knits breathe better, but I’ve never felt a difference. Mind you, my metabolism runs fairly high (I feel much more warm than other people do in the same settings) so maybe there’s a degree of difference that is lost on me…

  2. I have one royal oxford shirt in a blue and white weave, but I just don’t like it’s appearance as much as a standard poplin or even a very fine twill. That said, I think every man should own at least one for the sake of completeness.

    • I don’t think it’s necessary for every man to own a royal oxford shirt for those who don’t like them don’t like them. Most Americans would say every man should own an oxford cloth button-down shirt, but I don’t have any because I don’t care much for them.

      • Fair points. I suppose what I was trying to say is that unless one has a particular aversion to the style, I consider it to be a staple item.

  3. I don’t agree for the button down either, that style with a tie looks horrible but some people don’t know better

    • Some button-down collars look better with ties than others. The original from Brooks Brothers was designed for wearing with a tie as the points are longer and rolled up to expose more of the knot. It’s not a matter of “knowing better”, it’s simply a difference in personal opinion.

  4. I saw an auction which was selling the entire bond outfit and the dress shirt that was part of the outfit looked like it was a pinpoint Oxford cloth

    so is this shirt different from that one? I ask because my tailor has both of the fabrics and I want to know which one to use

    • The entire Bilbao outfit was sold at Christie’s “50 Years of James Bond: The Auction”, and in the printed catalogue the shirt is clearly royal oxford, not pinpoint.

  5. It may be cliche, but I am an American who enjoys oxford cloth. Much like Bond, American Ivy/Trad mix formal traditions with informal items. I like dressing down my ensembles with an oxford or pinpoint oxford button-down.
    However, I know I needed to maintain a more formal collection of shirts as well and have started buying Royal Oxford for its weight, texture and ease of care. And, because I always like Brosnan’s oxfords.

    The hard part has been finding a cream/ivory/ecru Royal Oxford. I found some by Charles Tyrwhitt, but they seemed of questionable quality. I recently purchased a blue royal oxford by Kamakura I rather liked. Any suggestions for a maker that offer a variety of Royal Oxford? I think I should probably just have some made.

    • You’re right about finding an ecru royal oxford cloth, or any oxford. I have one shirt from Frank Foster but I don’t know where the cloth comes from. Most ecru royal oxfords are a mix of ecru and white, and it doesn’t work in the same way that blue does. My Frank Foster shirt is solid ecru and I wish it were easier to find. I think Pierce Brosnan’s London/Hamburg arrival shirt in Tomorrow Never Dies is also solid.

  6. I was truly amused by the comment that a buttondown collar looks horrible with a necktie. The truth of the matter is that a spread collar makes everybody look fat.

      • Are there any instances where only poplin would be appropriate, with royal oxford not being formal enough?

      • I think a royal oxford shirt can be appropriate whenever a plain poplin shirt is. However, I’m not a big fan of pairing a royal oxford shirt with a birdseye suit like Pierce Brosnan did because the textures compete in a very subtle way.

      • Matt you make a point here I have been thinking about as I update my dress shirt wardrobe. I generally prefer grey suits, and as you have mentioned to me before they better suit my low contrast, cool complexion. I do find, however, that my solid navy worsted works better than anything else when pairing with dress shirts that have some texture, like a royal oxford. I have yet to receive my recently commissioned grey sharkskin suit, but when I was going over the suiting options, a very similar grey birdseye (might have been nailhead I can’t recall for sure) was placed next to my sharkskin and the two looked similar, with the birdseye being slightly larger in scale. I imagine that there will be that competition in texture you mentioned above between my sharkskin suit and my royal oxford, especially considering of the various sharkskins I looked at mine had the most prominent pattern, which I assume is because I chose the one with the lowest super number, thus it had thicker yarns in the weave than the finer yarns in the higher super number cloths, please correct me if I’m wrong in that. But getting back to my original question, would you agree that the solid navy worsted is the easiest to pair with dress shirts with a texture? I believe it is easier with a solid navy worsted than even what we call a solid charcoal or dark grey worsted because solid greys still have different color yarns mottled together. Thanks again.

      • You can pair textured shirts with textured suitings. I find that they work very nicely together. It’s only when there’s a noticeable pattern in both that they become difficult to pair.

        Super number does not have anything to do with how thick the yarns in the weave are. That is partially down to the weight of the cloth, along with other factors. Super numbers define the finesse of the wool fibres that make up the yarns, and they are not a measure of weight or quality.

    • That makes sense. I do recall the fabric I chose was an 11 oz fabric, and the others were 8.5 to 9 oz. I’m glad you cleared that up about the Super numbers, I had always been under the impression that high Super number meant more, thinner yarns in the weave for some reason.

  7. Matt, would Thomas Mason’s “Gold Oxford 140” fabric family be the equivalent of what Brosnan wore? I find Thomas Mason’s naming conventions a bit confusing. They label Royal Oxford as specifically 2x120s in terms of specs.

  8. I read that oxford fabrics are a 2/2 warp and weft, which is a Matt weave? How is that different from a basketweave or is it just a synonym?

    • Matt weaves are the same as basketweaves, but they’re all part of a family. Oxford is a type of fabric, not a specific type of weave, so the specifics of the basket weave can vary, but it’s almost always going to be cotton (or a cotton blend) and have a certain kind of finish.

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