07
Dec

It’s on sale: Brooks Brothers OCBD — Get ‘em solid, get ‘em striped. My favorite off-the-rack staple dress shirt is on sale (today only!) and I’ll never-not mention it.

It’s 30% off right now ($56 versus the usual $80). Made in the U.S.A., 100% cotton, single-needle stitched seams and I literally wear one every day (unless it’s the summer). 

If you’re wondering about Brooks Brothers extra-slim fit OCBD sizing, I’ve got you covered. And if you haven’t read it, I put the shirt in my investment pieces series, too.

14
Nov

Casual fall uniform

Alex (aka, mrdanger) took these shots of me at NorthernGRADE a little while back and it’s essentially what I’ve been wearing since the weather’s taken a bit of a cooler turn here in Chicago. 

Working from home doesn’t exactly encourage you to do things normal working folks do — like “take a shower” and “wear pants”. However, once I make the effort to appear like a functional member of the outside world, I’ve found myself reaching for the same items from my wardrobe every day. 

This isn’t a far departure from my uniform experiment from a while ago. The selvedge raw denim jeans and the blue OCBD shirt have reappeared. As far as I’m concerned, these items can be worn for three seasons of the year, taking time off for summer (during which I substitute in linen shirts and linen-cotton trousers). 

But with the cooler weather, I’ve been grabbing one of five wool sweaters from a cedar chest my parents gave to me as a birthday gift. It’s a combination of two v-neck lambswool sweaters from Howard Yount, a shawl-collared chunky-knit cardigan and two L.L.Bean crewnecks that I’ve become fond of lately for their warmth and quality. 

When I leave the apartment to grab lunch at the Italian grocer, I’ve thrown on my vintage Barbour Beaufort that I rewaxed myself at the beginning of the season (a tremendous pain in the ass if you’ve never done it before). The jacket’s pockets carry all the stuff I need with me and the game pocket in the back can stow stuff while you’re at a bar — like gloves, a knit hat and scarf. I’ve even put a portable umbrella in there once.

Footwear has been a pair of ranger moccasins with Vibram soles, which have been insanely comfortable to wear and perfect for slightly rainy days. Otherwise, I’m still reaching for the Clarks desert boots, but I imagine L.L.Bean Boots will be making an appearance once snow becomes an issue. 

I suppose ”country” attire of both American and British influences inspired my desire to swing toward a more casual wardrobe — basically the kind of stuff that ends up on Thornproof. While I particularly like the look of tailored clothing in the spring and summer, I don’t have the same affection for it in the colder months. 

A tailored jacket in the cooler months means a tailored overcoat and every time you go out you have to find a place to stash that heavy thing if there’s no coat check (and we all know there’s no coat check at dive bars). Dress shoes are quickly rendered useless unless you choose to constantly wear overshoes or willing to buy at least two pairs of dress boots with Dainite soles for traction. Rock salt and sludge become enemies of flannel trousers. 

I might be overthinking it all, of course, and I certainly keep some cold-weather tailored clothing on hand, but it’s the exception for my daily wardrobe — not the rule. I really do prefer to wear workwear at this time of year, especially since I don’t work in an office. 

My one gripe would be that it doesn’t offer much of an opportunity to wear a necktie. I think ties look awkward under v-necks, are impractical under crewnecks and if I’m wearing a shawl-collared cardigan at home, there’s not much need for a tie. 

It’s relatively simple and takes zero real thought in the morning (or early afternoon) when getting dressed. It will look rather appropriate for most instances and you can dress it up with a nicer pair of tweed trousers if you’d like. But let’s face it: In the sea of black North Face fleece zip-ups that seems to reappear each winter, you probably won’t need to go to such lengths. 

01
Nov

Everlane introduces cashmere sweaters and OCBDs — Everlane has introduced two types of cashmere sweaters today, in both v-neck and crewneck in navy, charcoal, grey and black colors. For $120, this might be a really good deal if their past products are any indication (I have a few T-shirts and their tote bag and was fairly impressed). 

They also introduced three OCDBs at $55 each. Not a bad price, either. 

If you’re not an Everlane member, feel free to use my invite here

18
Oct

Sizing info on the Brooks Brothers Extra-Slim Fit OCBD

I’ve had a few questions recently asking me about the Brooks Brothers Extra-Slim Fit OCBD (and quite a bit of Google search traffic on the topic), so I thought I’d write a brief sizing guide for everyone. 

For context, I measure in at a 15” neck and 35” sleeve. This, however, is not the size I am in the Brooks Brothers Extra-Slim Fit OCBDs. In fact, I’m not the same size in all the different colors and styles (i.e.: “university stripes”) of the dress shirt, either. 

The Brooks Brothers Extra-Slim Fit OCBD’s various fabric types all shrink differently and they manufacture different sleeve lengths to account for this. It took several returns and trials to figure out which fabrics would shrink and by how much. 

I’m hoping to save you that trouble. Here’s what size shirt I buy in what fabric as a 15/35:

  • White: 15.5/35 (I should’ve sized up to 15.5/36)
  • Blue: 15.5/35
  • Pink: 15.5/34
  • Ecru: 15.5/34
  • Red/Blue Striped: 15.5/34 

Please note: I haven’t bought or tried the “yellow” OCBD (I’m half Asian and yellow looks terrible on me).

All these are for the Supima cotton, must-iron, made-in-the-U.S.A. OCBDs. This doesn’t apply to other shirts from Brooks Brothers, especially their non-iron shirts (for those, I’d suggest going true-to-size in neck and sleeve).

You’ll notice that I sized up 0.5” in the neck on all OCBDs. The cotton does shrink quite a bit on all these shirts, especially after several washes. 

Some sleeves seem really long when you first get them, some are overly long for their size (hence why I sized down 1” on some). The only shirt I’d maybe consider sizing up on would be the white OCBD — that fabric shrinks the most of any of them. 

I would also note that after washing them a few times, I’ve had my shirts actually tapered in the chest and arms, too, to get rid of the billowing around the waist. A few things contribute to this, but it’s mainly the center-back pleat. Your local tailor should be able to alter them for $25 or less a shirt (which should encourage you to buy them on sale). 

I was also asked if these shirts shrink too much from washing. In my experience, this hasn’t been the case, especially in the torso area (hence the alteration in the torso and arms). Brooks Brothers has a pretty great return policy, and you can even return items after you’ve washed them (I’ve done it in-person at a store). 

My typical washing routine is cold water and then I put them in the dryer for 10-15 minutes, just to accelerate drying. You should (and probably should) do hang-dry only, but I find that a quick stint in the beginning with a dryer helps shrink the fabric properly and makes the fabric softer. 

Finally, here’s the measurements (laid flat) on an unaltered 15.5/35 white OCBD that’s been washed multiple times, for your reference:

  • Pit-to-Pit: 21”
  • Waist: 19.5”
  • Back of collar to hem: 29.75”
  • Yolk: 17”
  • Shoulder to Shoulder: 17.25”
  • Top of shoulder to end of cuff: 25.25”
  • Center back to end of cuff: 34.25” 

13
Aug

Investment Pieces: Brooks Brothers white OCBD

It’s hard to find a #menswear “essentials” list that doesn’t include the oxford cloth button-down collar shirt. Everyone tells you to buy one and pretty much every retailer carries some version of this shirt. 

Sure, it’s “classic” and J.F.K. wore one and it’s an Ivy staple. You have guys on forums and blog comments whining about how the collars used to have a much better roll to them decades ago compared to the ones now or how they used to take sandpaper to the collars to wear them down a bit for that “worn in” look. (And don’t even get them started on this “slim fit” business all the kids like!)

It’s easy to read that and laugh. But you have to realize the reason why they talk in such detailed curmudgeonly ways about this particular shirt is because they love it. It’s like meeting someone who is a complete nerd about a particular thing they’re really, really into: they love it so much that they want to tell you all the reasons why so that you’ll understand and love it, too. 

And the OCBD nerds aren’t totally crazy! It’s a fantastic shirt. I particularly like mine from Brooks Brothers in a certain non-trad fit (“extra-slim”, which makes it sound like a diet drink supplement) for a variety of irrational reasons.

Yes, the collar is great. It’s softer than a stiffer collar from most off-the-rack dress shirts. It’s a bit more substantial, too, in its collar point length — not some wimpy tiny collar that’s currently in fashion — that gives it a decent roll. Not the best roll, mind you, that you see in black and white photos of “Take Ivy”, but better than what else is out there in retailers today. 

I also love the shirring of the sleeves where it attaches to the cuff instead of the pleated look a lot of other shirts use. And it’s even more ridiculous that I like this unique detail on the shirt because you can’t even see it when I roll my sleeves up anyway, which I do most of the time when wearing the shirt, but I know it’s there.

I’ll also add that I love the pocket on the shirt. People are adding all sorts of useless crap to their shirts like epaulets, grosgrain trimming or monograms, but I’m a fan of functional things. I know a growing number of people prefer the French front placket and no pocket on shirts, but I can’t stand it. I use my pocket all the time. I put a pen in there, or my glasses when I head outside during the day and wear my prescription sunglasses. I don’t know why anyone would turn down a free pocket on their shirt. 

The shirt’s construction is pretty solid with single-needle stitched seams. It’s also still made right here in the United States (something that unfortunately cannot be said about the majority of Brooks Brothers’ shirts). The best part about the OCBD is that you can wash it, dry it and hang it up. That’s it. No need to worry about ironing it, as it looks great a bit wrinkled and just feels comfortable, which is the most important thing. 

The shirt doesn’t feel terribly stiff when first worn, but it just feels better several washes in. You can throw it on when you’re mildly hungover or just about to head down to the grocery store to buy some cilantro for some tostadas because you’re an idiot who forgot to check the fridge before you went to the store yesterday. 

Of course, it goes well with almost anything. You can wear it untucked with jeans or tucked into chinos with a madras, seersucker or navy wool blazer on top. And while my personal uniform most days consists of the blue OCBD, the white OCBD probably gets a fairly high amount of time covering my torso. I consider it a casual shirt to just wear around the house or on weekends. It’s what I do chores in and take naps in. 

You want that “lived-in” look? Pick up one of these shirts and live in it. There will always be time for you to put on a really dressed-up outfit to get dinner or go somewhere nice or even sit in your office cubicle. People always say that you should dress up for the important moments of your life, but the rest of your life’s more mundane and non-Instagram worthy moments ought to have a place in your wardrobe, too. For me, that’s the Brooks Brothers OCBD.

(“Investment Pieces” is a series about the items in my wardrobe that have gotten the most usage and wear. It’s part review and part paean to the clothes I really would recommend to anybody. These aren’t luxury items or limited in availability — you can get them anywhere at anytime for a fairly reasonable price.)

18
Jun

It’s on sale: Brooks Brothers OCBDs — The semi-annual sale is going on now at Brooks Brothers, discounts go up to 40% — mostly on seasonal merchandise. I’d advise on stocking up on basics, however, like the OCBD, which comes to $48 shirt when you buy four. 

You could buy one of each color (pink, white, ecru and blue) or you could just buy four of the same color like I did. 

20
Jan

Hey Kyoshi, Do you mess with button-down shirts when wearing a suit? Cheers!

- Asked by evolvingstyle

Generally speaking, no. When I wear a suit, it’s usually because the situation requires a certain amount of formality (business, something at a church, etc.) and I go with a standard spread collar (blue for the daytime and business, white for formal and evening).

Now, that’s mainly just for my worsted wool suits. When it comes to casual and seasonal fabrics, I think that perhaps allows you to go with a button-down collar. I could see someone wearing a bowtie with a seersucker suit and button-down collar. I could see someone wearing a OCBD with a donegal tweed suit and a v-neck sweater layered under the jacket.

06
Jan

Can't recall if you spoke about this long ago but did Brooks Brothers re-size their ESF shirts? I bought a bunch when they first came out then went in to get re-sized last week and found them much slimmer than the ones I own. Either way, they're fantastic.

- Asked by Anonymous

Not sure. They may have in their most-recent batch. Their OCBDs seem the same though (they’re still made in the United States). The rest of their shirts are made overseas, so the specs might be slightly different. Regardless, they have a great return policy at Brooks Brothers. 

06
Jan

Hey man - Great post on adopting a uniform. I've got an off-kilter question on oxford shirts I'd like to hear your thoughts on. I've got a few nicer OCBDS I reserve for blazers and sportcoats and a few "beaters" I wear on more casual occasions. Is this typical, or do folks treat their OCBDs interchangeably? I ask because I'm also looking to simplify and slim down my wardrobe.

- Asked by hyvaslide

Thanks, glad you liked it. As for what you wear when, it sounds like you’re doing it right. Most days to work I could and do wear whatever. Mine aren’t in “beater” territory just yet, so it’s a wash. I do, however, make it a point to wear nicer (often meaning “newer) things on special occasions. 

03
Jan
For those of you who were wondering what direction my wardrobe is heading after my giant purge, here’s a clue. A post on this is forthcoming.

For those of you who were wondering what direction my wardrobe is heading after my giant purge, here’s a clue. A post on this is forthcoming.

19
Dec

what's an ocbd and where can I find some good ones? =/ sorry, I'm new to this menswear thing. everybody has to start somewhere, right?

- Asked by Anonymous

OCBD = Oxford cloth button-down. Oxford cloth is a bit heavier and coarser than say a broadcloth shirt. Google it up for more information. Button-down refers to the collar buttoning down to the shirt. 

You can find them pretty much anywhere that sells menswear. My favorite off-the-rack ones come from Brooks Brothers.

If you’re on a budget and are “regular” sized in your proportions, then I’d check out Lands’ End Canvas. Their collars are a bit flimsy and small for my tastes to be worn with some ties, but they’re fairly cheap and often on sale. 

18
Dec
29
Nov

I bought a few BB ESF OCBD from their two for $120 the other day. Love the shirts, thanks for the recommendation. Any tips for taking care of them? Last longer? Prevent shrinkage?

- Asked by happybadi

If you really want to prevent shrinkage, you could just cold-water wash them by hand and then hang dry. 

I usually throw mine in the washer on cold and then dry them on low for about 15 minutes because I’m lazy. 

Still, if they shrink and don’t work out, Brooks Brothers has a pretty good returns policy. They’ve been helpful in the past for stuff like that.

21
Nov

Would you recommend sizing up on the collar and sleeve? I've heard they shrink significantly.

- Asked by Anonymous

RE: Brooks Brothers ESF dress shirts

Non-iron: True to size.

Iron: True to size. 

OCBDs: Sleeves tend to shrink a lot on the white shirts, so I’d maybe size up one in the sleeve. I sized down though in the ecru and university stripe ones. Went TTS on the blue and pink ones.

I haven’t had collar issues, personally. 

28
Sep

What do you recommend for a workhorse white OCBD?

- Asked by steezandcrackers

Brooks Brothers extra-slim fit line. I feel that the price/quality ratio is pretty good there and I’ve got several from them.

About The Silentist

A menswear blog on finding your personal style, written by Kiyoshi Martinez.

I work at Khaki's of Carmel and live in the Monterey Bay area. Formerly from Chicago.

E-mail me, I'm fairly nice: thesilentist@gmail.com

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