Brooks Brothers New OCBD Review by Fading Fast

Brooks-Brothers-new-polo-oxford-pocket

Lately there has been more talk than normal about Brooks Brothers OCBD. This is because Brooks recently made some significant changes to a shirt that many have come to know and love. Some of these changes such as the removing of the collar lining have collar roll enthusiast salivating while the price jump ($90 to $140) has prevented some from taking the plunge.

I have not purchased one of the new shirts for myself so I can’t speak to the specific pros and cons, but Ask Andy Trad member Fading Fast has and can. I offer up Fading Fast’s take on the shirt, because over time he has shown that he possesses a great temperament for such endeavors.

Thoughts from Fading Fast

My $140 list (paid $105) BB OCBD came and my early thought are:

Positives: Great feel to the material and the unlined collar and cuffs are spot on – what an OCBD should have. Nobody has a more definitive Oxford blue color than BB (which might be tautological) – it is the perfect tone. The mother-of-pearl buttons add to its understated quality.

Negatives: For me (and there is no right or wrong), the perfect OCBD needs a back-of-the-collar button, breast pocket, a locker loop and (less important) a sleeve placket button. Without the first three, the shirt feels more formal than it should, almost as if it is confused.

Overall, the material, unlined collar and cuffs, MOP buttons make it wonderful shirt, the lack of classic OCBD details as noted make it not perfect and, for me, not worth the price.

Last snarky comment. In the little insert that came with the shirt, BB says “…More than a century after its introduction, the classic returns with authentic details. The cuffs and button-down collar are as soft as always and featured genuine mother-of-pearl buttons…” How can it both “return” and be “as always….” If they had “as always” kept the details, the shirt wouldn’t have had to “return.”

oxford cloth button down
is a simple man interested in simple, classic, and traditional style.

29 Comments on "Brooks Brothers New OCBD Review by Fading Fast"

  1. Harrow Carper says:

    That comment was hardly “snarky”.

    Paying attention to details in language is certainly as important as paying attention to details in garb.

  2. TNSIL says:

    “Without the first three, the shirt feels more formal than it should, almost as if it is confused.”This BB OCBD is a dress shirt not a sport shirt. Back-of-the collar buttons, locker loops and sleeve placket buttons have no place on a proper dress shirt, and I don’t believe that BB has ever had these items on their OCBD dress shirts. Fading Fast might be confused, but the shirt knows exactly what it is and what it isn’t.

  3. oxford cloth button down says:

    TNSIL – I agree the the OCBD is a dress shirt, but it falls on the casual end of the dress shirt spectrum. It is certainly not a formal shirt.

    Here is a relevant post from Ivy Style: http://www.ivy-style.com/gqs-style-treason-buttondown-not-a-dress-shirt.html

  4. George says:

    Is there a model coed wrapped in one of the new shirts in a morning-after pose with wry smile? I mean, just to check that the shirt’s tails are long enough…or not. A finer stylistic point, but one of interest to some customers, I imagine.

  5. CAY says:

    None of my BB OCBDs have locker loops, sleeve buttons or back collar buttons. They were all bought in the 1990s or early 2000s. They all do have pockets. The lack of a breast pocket would be a deal-breaker for me, regardless whether the OCBD would be considered more dress or more casual. I do have some PRL OCBDs with no breast pocket (and no collar button, sleeve button or locker loop). I almost always miss the breast pocket and typically wear these shirts under a sweater. That way, I can forget about the missing pocket.

  6. Roger C. Russell II says:

    I have taken a look at the shirt, but have so far not made a purchase. I like the shirt a lot, however personally I wish it had more heft. I know some guys like the thin feel to this shirt because it brings a more formal quality to this product. In a perfect world I wish this shirt was offered as a novelty and B.B. still offered what I will call their original OCBD with a pocket.
    I am constantly reading these damn blogs so I can not remember who posted the story, but is this new OCBD not the Polo shirt of the turn of the century. The buttons were put on the shirts of Polo players so that their collars would not flap in their faces while riding their horses. I think I remember that this original Polo shirt also had no pocket.
    There are too many good shirting choices presently in the market to stress over this shirt. Just order from Mercer and get exactly what you want.

  7. Tom says:

    Honestly his review doesn’t make much sense. He says “the lack of classic OCBD details as noted make it not perfect.”. The mainline BB OCBD never had those details in the first place, they can hardly be considered as “negatives”. If that’s what you are looking for then there’s other options out there, as was the case in the 60’s.

  8. Gary says:

    While the reviewer laments the absence of the back-of-collar button, locker loop, and mid-sleeve button, the very absence of these extraneous details is what many of has have enjoyed, for a long time, about the Brooks Brothers ocbd. That the reviewer thinks they’re requirements for an ocbd seems out of left field to me. While some makers added these details, and while some of us many prefer them and others of us not, they’re certainly not the details that make or break an ocbd shirt.

  9. oxford cloth button down says:

    I think that Fading Fast made it very clear in his review that items such as locker loops, breast pocket, etc. are preferences and that there is no right or wrong. His preferences are not going to be everyone’s preferences.

    • Gary says:

      Point taken. It still seems odd to me that he would allude to those items in a review of a shirt that has not had them.

      • Tom says:

        That’s completely understandable, we all have different preferences, but I have to agree with Gary, it just didn’t seem very coherent to put it as a “negative”. BB gets a lot of flak, and for the most part its well deserved, but in this case they stayed true to their tradition and re-introduced a classic which the trad “community” had been asking for in a long time. It strikes me sometimes people nitpick against BB just for the sake of it. I think the real point of contention is the price, but on sale at ≈$100 its not a bad value in my opinion, we shouldn’t forget that its a fairly niche product in this day and age.

  10. oxford cloth button down says:

    Gary – Thank you, your point is taken as well! Tom mentioned the same thing. I assume (dangerous, I know) that Fading Fast was saying that if they were going to re-work the shirt that he would have liked to see these details added.

    • Gary says:

      I do remember having, as a kid, shirts with the locker loop and collar button. I have no idea who made them, though–since my parents bought them, probably just department store brands. Given the interest among the “Ivy set,” it might be worthwhile for Brooks to consider offering a line of shirts with the kinds of details noted by Fading Fast. As long as they didn’t replace the “original” ocbd again, of course! 😉 We wouldn’t want another ocbd controversy on our hands.

      • Tom says:

        Gant was definitely one of them, but I’m sure there were many others back in the day.

        • CAY says:

          Gant was definitely one that had collar buttons and locker loops. I grew up outside of New Haven near the Gant factory. My mother bought my shirts as a kid, of course, and bought mostly Gant or Sero, which was also local. All the Gants had locker loops (called “fruit loops” BITD), which the girls pulled off in the school yard. It infuriated my mother. I remember her cursing the girls and wishing that the shirts didn’t come with the damn loops!

  11. CAY says:

    Tom’s point is well-taken. There are great options out there in the same price range. Why fret over it?

    Mercer is a great option, as is Michael-Spencer. MS offers all the choices desired by the reviewer as no-cost options: Back collar button, sleeve buttons, breast pocket, and locker loop. I have now acquired a few of the M-S shirts and they compare very well with both my Mercers and the old BBs.

    • Tom says:

      If I’m not mistaken the Micheal Spencer OCBD’s are made in the same factory as BB (Garland) so they should be very similar if not identical. As you said the MS shirts have the added bonus of being highly customizable to one’s individual preference.

  12. oxford cloth button down says:

    CAY – That is exactly why I wanted to post the review. There are many readers out there thinking about which OCBD option is the best for them. Reading reviews as well as the comments (A sincere thank you to everyone that takes the time to comment!) helps people in deciding which option is best for them.

    • CAY says:

      Agree with your comments 100%. I’ve gotten many good ideas from posts here and also the comments. These led to some nice purchases (including a few thrift buys), from Shaggy Dog sweaters to surcingle belts.

  13. Roger C. Russell II says:

    I should have mentioned Michael-Spencer as a shirting option. That was rude of me. I just did not initially see the ad space. There are a lot of very good options out there.

  14. RWK says:

    I think I still prefer Mercer. They seem to be the only ones doing a six-button front, and one can add virtually any other option that they desire. And I think that they still produce the heftiest Oxford fabric that I’ve found.

    Also, it’s interesting that there is discussion about shirtsleeve gauntlet buttons on Brooks’ OCBD shirts. My understanding of why they’ve never had them is because of the unique gathered pleat where the sleeve joins the cuff. They say that it’s built in such as way as to make a gauntlet button obsolescent.

    • CAY says:

      Mercer is definitely a great option. Compared to M-S, it does seem to be a tad ‘beefier’ in the cloth. It is also cut fuller than M-S, even compared to M-S’s fullest, ‘vintage’ cut. M-S has slightly greater length than Mercer (maybe 3/4 of an inch), and is 7-button compared to Mercer’s 6. So there are definitely differences, but both are winners and both are a joy to wear in my judgement.

  15. GG Fascot says:

    As someone recently wrote, broadcloth shirts (with buttondown collars, of course) are far more comfortable than OCBDs. Mercer produces a a perfect version. After wearing them even once, one wonders why one has been deceiving himself over the years about how comfortable oxford cloth is. Let prepschool kids and college boys wear them as some sort of uniform, but I’m glad a graduated to broadcloth and am grateful to Mercer.

  16. K. Kirkston says:

    @G.G. Fascot,

    I too have progressed from blindly following the Oxford-only dogma that I first encountered during my prep school days. Broadcloth isa welcome change. I can’t believe how I was one of those who thought “the heftier the better”, until I was introduced to broadcloth and later, end-on-end, both from the fine folks at Mercer. A liberating experience. Yes, I have them made with button-down collars.

  17. RNA says:

    I’m no menswear historian, but I think when he refers to back-of-the-collar buttons and locker loop as “classic” details, I don’t think he means classic BB shirt features, but rather classic Ivy Style features. As someone pointed out, Gant was the one to popularize these details and they were quite reputable and popular back in the heyday. While it may seem odd that BB would copy these features now, their target audience here is presumably Ivy purists, so it doesn’t seem all that strange to me that one would expect the shirt to include these details.

  18. Tad says:

    I never liked the super heavyweight oxford cloth either, but regular oxford cloth is a very versatile fabric for a shirt and is ideal ever day wear. Broadcloth is a very refined and elegant fabric that is too formal for knocking around on the weekends or even for most office environments unless you’re the CEO of a major corporation. I agree that it’s comfortable, but it makes you look overdressed in most situations.

  19. Dave says:

    Does anyone know where I can find a good university stripe oxford that is green? Lands End used to have one with their Original Oxford, they currently have one for sale that is non-iron, but I think we can all agree that non-iron is pointless. Not to mention, the child size collars that are being produced now. I checked Mercer and Sons and J Press, could only find the traditional red and blue university stripe. I constantly check ebay but cant find the OCBD beefy cotton that I’m looking for. Any help would be great. Love this site. My favorite go to shirts are the LE, BB, Gant, Sero.

  20. CliffC says:

    I was wondering if anyone had done a review of recent Brooks OCBD iterations. I am really happy with my “new” Brooks MiUSA OCBD. I like the cloth weight, unlined nature, slim Milano fit (sorry trad purists!), and the look. The only thing I don’t like is the price. Even with a coupon, it ended up being around $100.

    I’m trying to find out how recent BB shirts made in Malaysia, or those BBBF ones, which are now discontinued, compare to the new OCBD. Did the fit change at all? Thanks!

  21. Santos C says:

    How long are the collar points?

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