How to Prep: The OCBD as Outerwear

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I figured that I would write about this while it is still warm enough to wear a polo shirt. I also know that I will probably catch some flack and/or ruffle some feathers with this. I am okay with that. This is stuff that I really do.

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OCBDs (oxford cloth buttondown shirts) make great lightweight jackets. However I have found that they really only work over polo shirts (or even t-shirts in a pinch). I have worn them with polo shorts and chinos as well as shorts (and yes gym shorts on occasion).

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When does this make sense? This is not a combination that I would wear all day, but more of a short-term solution. A few scenarios might be in the morning when it hasn’t warmed up, the evening when it had cooled off, or in a light rain. I think that accounts for all of my pics

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This post reminds me of how preppy people tell me that I look on occasion. This happens a lot when I run to the store in gym shorts and boat shoes because my boat shoes were by the door or when I wear throw on a polo with my athletic shorts. Sometimes preppy just happens. I think that this is an example of that.

The University Flap Pocket

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The flap pocket OCBD is a hallmark of the trad and ivy looks. Those in the know tend to know that if you are wearing a flap pocket that you know what you are you doing. We know that the shirt probably comes from J.Press or is a custom OCBD with a wink and nod to Press. I myself am a fan of the flap pocket, but not necessarily on the standard blue OCBD.

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While I own several flap pocket OCBDs there is one that I wear more than any other. That one is a red university striped shirt. There is something very unique about the pairing of the university stripe which is sometimes called a candy stripe with a flap pocket. It can’t put my finger on it, but it just works. While I love my red one I think that it would work well in blue, pink, or any other color that you can get your hands on.

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Here is why I don’t love my blue OCBDs with flap pockets. Before I say this please know that is very unique to my specific look and that I have the utmost respect for those in the armed services. I find that these shirts look a little military on me. Again this has to do with the haircut, my build, and potentially something else that I am unaware of and it’s not just me. I have been asked several times while wearing this shirt if I am a military man (often Air Force for some reason?). If you are not as clean cut looking as me this may never ever be an issue for you. In fact if you are not very clean cut the flap pocket will look even cooler on you like I think they do on me when I have my beard.

I picked up my red university stripe OCBD at Michael Spencer. However, I think that you should be able to recreate this shirt at any of the custom spots such as Ratio, Mercer, and probably quite few others that I am leaving out. The funny thing is that while my shirt is definitely a nod to J.Press it is not available there. They only offer their flaps in solid colors.

Lay of the Land

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There is going to be a decrease in pictures of me in ties, blazers, and sport coats. I hope that this temporary, but only time will tell. Wondering why? Well the reason is that I started a new job last week.

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I have written about this before, but it’s worth revisiting. Ties, blazers, and sport coats are tricky in the modern office. This is especially true when you are not upper management. There are all kinds of connotations and associations that go along with these items and while that is not necessarily your problem you may feel the consequences.

My advice is to play it safe. Take stock of who wears what and try to understand the office norms. If ties are the standard you are golden. If no one wears ties including all of the directors and VPs it may be best to hold off until you have established yourself. Of course you can always throw caution to the wind, but you may end up keeping your tie and losing your job.

So for the meantime I will be in my basic uniform of blue OCBD, plain-front khaki chinos, penny loafers, and olive surcingle. Luckily for me I am okay with that. In a couple of weeks I might wear a blazer with no tie as outerwear to the office just to ease into it. Oh, and the office runs cold so lots of Shetlands ;).

SailBoats, Whales, & Guatemala?

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I picked up a new surcingle belt and the design is not the most typical. Generally you will find surcingle belts embroidered with nautical themes, preppy animals, or preppy sports themes. None of these things are bad, I wear them myself, but sometimes you want something a little different. Cue the belt.

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I loved this Guatemalan design with dogs (link here) the moment I saw it. I posted it in on one of my Instagram stories and I got a ton of questions about it so I knew I was not alone in my admiration. I thought that this belt would be a great way to add some color to my outfits. I knew that it would look great with olive chinos as well as the standard khaki/blue OCBD combo. Along with adding color I thought it was a nice way to break up my standard look and add a little bit of individuality into the mix.

I got this belt at Leather Man on the Eliza B site (see here). In my opinion it is a steal at $42. Leather Man is my de facto place to get belts. If this belt does not do it for you they have you covered as they have plenty of others.

On the Map

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While John Simons has definitely been on the map for the Ivy set in London it was not on my radar as a shopping option. That is until my recent popover purchase.

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Since my original purchase (see here) I have grabbed a few more of their own brand shirts. The reason is their amazing madras fabric that is gauzy and cool along with the patterns that they were doing them up in. The tartan-ish madras featured above was the tipping point. It was just too good for me to resist and I am so glad that I did not. I also picked up another madras popover and  the gingham popover seen below.

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I will say that my purchases did not come without some challenges. My first popover actually came as the button-front version instead of the popover. I sent a few emails that were met with no reply which was frustrating. I understand that this does not inspire confidence, but I want to be honest. As a side note, I have heard that they are great over the phone. A call seemed like a hassle to me and I ended up just keeping the button-front. Internet shopping is not without its pitfalls.

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Sizing is also a little challenging. Challenging is not the right word. What I found is that the sizing is not consistent. It was consistent among the exact same product type but not type to type. Luckily for them I am used to this as very few shops are consistent in this area. Luckily for me everything fit good enough.

Despite all of these issues they have succeeded in making a fan out of me. The products spoke for themselves. The madras fabric is some of the best I have ever touched, I love their patterns, and even their labels are cool.