i nitialh popularized by American sportsmen and Eastern university men during the 1920s and 1930s the oxford button-down is Americas sole contribution to the lexicon of permanent dress shirt fashion Since World War II. European enthusiasts have descended upon the doorstop of its shrine. 346 Madison Avenue, to load up on this unique American classic. Until recently, no elegant male could unfurl his stripes without at least one Brooks Brothers pink oxford gracing his closet.
With designer menswear helping to blur the distinction between disposable and permanent fashion Brooks Brothers has further muddied the waters by abdicating its role as the protcc torate of \merica s traditional fashion \s goes Brooks, so goes the button-down. The Ivy League •*>k was the last patrician-inspired men's fashion to establish itself before the roots of America's upper class taste were displaced in the upheaval of the 1960s Peacock Revolution. Were it not for
the vision and genius of Ralph Lauren. America's very own natural shoulder stvle would have followed his alma mater. Brooks Brothers into sartorial eclipse.
Traditionally clad Continentals have always appreciated the American original's innate classiness. I ach year, a small coterie of I rench and Italian merchants offers up its own take on the Ivy League look. inspired b\ Old World images of American society at play in New port or Palm Beach.
When hosting a necktie the button down collar projects about the same level of dressiness as the navy bla/er or Weejun stvle loaler. two o! its more frequent coconspirators Like the blue bla/er. the oxford button-down can be dressed up or down, although it tends to consort more comfortably with like textured fabrics such as flannel or tweed In the button down's salad davs. all stvle was forfeited, should its points lack sufficient length to roll over and play casual.
Sequestered amid its cronies, circa 1950, the button-down is flanked by other Ivy League bona fides, soft shoulder tweed sport jacket, cuffed gray flannels, foulard four in hand, doeskin vest, and slip on moccasins.
Speaking of those who like their fashion unbuttoned, observe Signor Barbcra's sleight fhand, Not bothering to button his collar points, he seems to have turned a blind qr to those on his jacket as well. Barbcra's stylish imperfection has been partly inspired by his country's own Signor of Style. Gianni Agnelli (see page 230).
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