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Can You Wear A Tie With An Oxford Cloth Button-Down Shirt?

The Oxford Cloth Button Down (Oxford) shirt is a classic. Its adaptability to be worn in different situations means that you’ll find it in most modern mens’ wardrobes. 

But a question commonly asked is, can you wear a tie with an oxford shirt?

In traditional or formal settings, you shouldn’t wear a tie with an oxford button down collar shirt. However, in modern times, many men do choose to wear neckties with Oxford shirts to achieve a preppy look for more casual events.

That’s the answer in brief. 

oxford shirt with tie
Image From Deposit Photos

But in this article today, we’ll discuss the situations where it can be appropriate to wear a tie with an Oxford shirt, and the situations where it isn’t. 

So, if this is a question that has been bothering you, read on.

4 Situations Where You Shouldn’t Wear A Tie With An Oxford Shirt

As the Oxford shirt was traditionally not worn with a necktie, there are certain situations when pairing an OBCD shirt with a tie should be avoided. 

Generally speaking, this tends to be in more formal or traditional settings, where the traditionalist view on neckties and Oxford shirts would hold.

But let’s go through this in more detail.

1.  Outside Of The US

This isn’t an absolute no, however, if you’re in a different country from the United States, do your research before wearing an Oxford cloth button-down shirt with a tie.

This is because although wearing a tie with an Oxford cloth button down shirt is typically American style and well-worn in the United States, this look may be less common in other places.

In the UK, for example, in a business setting it is commonplace to wear a dress shirt with a tie, and an Oxford with a tie may be considered inappropriate or underdressing.

On the other hand, in the states, it can be common to wear an Oxford shirt with a tie and jacket to work as a slightly less formal version of the business casual style.

Think about what vibe you’re trying to exude – if a preppy style isn’t acceptable for the place that you’re in and the function you’re attending, then don’t wear an Oxford shirt with a tie. 

2. Conservative Work Environment

If you are deciding what to wear for the workplace, and your work environment is conservative, avoid wearing an Oxford dressed up with a tie.

In workplaces that are conservative, it is best to stick to more traditional rules of dressing, and traditionally, Oxford shirts were not worn with ties.

Breaking this tradition could be considered a style faux pas in a particularly strict work environment. 

Not to mention that even dressed up with a tie, the Oxford shirt can risk looking too informal for a formal workplace.

Wearing a smart tie with an Oxford can also look odd, as the sheen of a smart silk tie and the rougher fabric of the Oxford shirt are two distinct aesthetics.

It is, therefore, best to stick with a traditional dress shirt and necktie for formal work environments.

The same applies if you are attending a work interview at a formal establishment.

3. If You’re Not Wearing A Jacket

Something that you don’t want to do is wear an Oxford shirt with a tie but without a jacket.

Be it a sports coat, blazer, or even a sweater, you should wear one if you are pairing your OBCD shirt with a tie.

The reason for this is that if you wear a button-down shirt with a tie but no jacket, you will appear as if you’re stuck somewhere between casual and business-casual, but haven’t quite decided which way you’re going to go yet.

This can risk you looking unprepared, or as if you haven’t quite thought through your outfit. 

The take-home here is, if you are wearing an Oxford shirt without a jacket (or blazer or sweater), make sure you leave the tie at home too. 

4. Formal Weddings

If you have been invited to a formal wedding, you will be generally expected to wear a suit in a dark color, such as navy or black, and a formal-looking tie.

Oxford collar button down shirts, unfortunately, do not pair well with a formal tie.

As mentioned before, a smart, silk tie, as you would wear to a formal event, doesn’t match well with the rougher hewn fabric of the traditional Oxford shirt.

Additionally, it is not recommended to wear Oxford shirts with formal suits, as the shirt would appear too casual with this outfit and appear to clash.

Therefore if you’re wondering if you can get away with an Oxford shirt and tie at a formal wedding, it’s best to think again and go for the dress shirt instead.

3 Situations Where You Can Wear A Tie With An Oxford Shirt

Now that we’ve been through the situations where you shouldn’t wear a tie with an Oxford cloth button down shirt, let’s discuss the situations where you can.

Let’s get into it.

1. Casual Office Environment

If you work in an office that has more of a casual vibe and is less strict about your work attire, then wearing a tie with an Oxford can be acceptable.

This is even more so in the US, where a necktie and an Oxford shirt are seen as an accepted form of business-casual wear in many offices.

By wearing a necktie with your Oxford shirt, as well as a jacket, blazer, or sweatshirt, you will exude a classic American, preppy style. 

Depending on your office culture, this may be entirely acceptable – it may even be the predominant trend in the place that you work.

The key here is to read the room and to gauge the level of formality at your workplace 

2. Casual Weddings

If you are attending a wedding where the dress code is stipulated as ‘casual’, then wearing a necktie with an Oxford shirt is a great option.

This is because, with casual weddings, it’s generally best to opt for a business-casual level of formality.

Think chinos, sports coats, and blazers

A necktie with an Oxford shirt and a blazer would look great at a casual wedding, as it will give off a relaxed look but also show that you’ve gone to some effort in choosing your outfit.

As we mentioned before, wearing an Oxford shirt with a necktie and full suit is a no-no, due to the contrast between formal and informal.

Therefore, wearing a necktie with an Oxford shirt should be reserved for casual weddings only.

3. Sports Events 

The Oxford shirt was originally taken from the Polo style, and designed to have a button-down collar to prevent the collar from flying around in the wind during a polo match.

As its origins stem from traditional sports wear, it follows, then, that the Oxford shirt looks at home if worn to certain sports events. 

For more formal sports events, such as polo, wearing an Oxford shirt with a necktie and sweater or jacket can be suitable. 

In fact, this style combination will fit in with the preppy Ivy aesthetic that is often popular at these events.

3 Tips On How To Wear A Tie With An Oxford Shirt Properly

So, now you know where and when it is ok to wear a tie with an oxford cloth button down shirt.

The next thing to discuss is exactly how to wear a tie with an Oxford shirt.

Let’s go through some tips. 

1. Choose A Casual Tie 

Oxford shirts are traditionally made with a rougher fabric that has a heavier weave compared with dress shirts.

This can make Oxford shirts a little stiffer, and able to hold shape better compared with a flannel shirt. 

However, it also gives Oxford shirts more of a casual look, compared with the smoother, lightweight fabric of a traditional dress shirt.

Because of this more casual appearance, when choosing a necktie to pair with your Oxford shirt, it is best to opt for a similarly casual tie.

Patterned or knit neckties are suitable options to be paired with an Oxford shirt. They are both visibly textured, which goes well with the rougher Oxford shirt fabric.

Avoid silk or satin neckties with Oxford shirts, as they clash with the shirt fabric and can look out of place.

Silky or shiny neckties are best paired with dress shirts instead. 

2. Wear It With A Jacket Or Sport Coat

When choosing to wear a necktie with an Oxford shirt, one of the most important things to remember is to combine this with a jacket, sport coat, or even a sweater.

If you don’t, you run the risk of looking like you have left a vital part of your outfit at home.

This is because the Oxford shirt without a jacket looks unavoidably casual, and paired with a necktie it appears as if you are trying, but failing, to make it appear less casual.

By adding a jacket or sweater, you increase the formality of the outfit ever so slightly, so that it becomes acceptable attire.

The sweater, Oxford shirt, and tie look will appear complete and is one of the preppy styles that men often try to emulate.

3. Check The Collar Size 

One of the most important things to do before wearing a necktie with an Oxford shirt is to check that the size of the collar will actually accommodate a necktie.

Certain Oxford shirts have narrower button-down collars, meaning that it can be a struggle to fit a necktie in between.

If the collar isn’t large enough to handle a necktie, it is best to avoid a tie at all. Wearing a necktie with an Oxford shirt where the collar is too small tends to look a little strange at best, and at worst may feel uncomfortable.

This is more of a practical tip, but an important one to remember if you are looking to spend money on a new Oxford shirt and necktie.

Conclusion

So, there you have it; all of the practical information you need about wearing a tie with an oxford cloth button down shirt.

As Oxford shirts were traditionally worn tie-free, it follows that the situations where you shouldn’t wear them with a tie tend to be the more traditional or formal ones.

But hopefully, you now know when you can wear a tie with an Oxford shirt, and how to style these items when you do.