The Ragged, Tattered, and Torn OCBD

Tattered Collar

I truly did not think that I would see this day. I have read of it and I have even seen pictures of it, but I still thought it more myth than certain reality and then last week it happened to me. My trusty OCBD that had a charming amount of fraying now has a hole in its collar.
No blog has probably done a better job of documenting the Ivy & Trad virtues of well-worn clothing than Ivy Style with articles such as “A Frayed So: In Praise of Beater Clothes.”  It was there where I saw my first OCBD collar riddled (pictured above) with what looked to me like symptoms of an insect problem not true wear and tear. This is where I was wrong.

Prior to springing a leak my shirt showed no signs of being on its last leg. It was worn to the office the week before. I put it in the wash frayed and it came out with a hole. It was part of my core rotation of 12 OCBDs. So it sees action about once every other week. I may have worn this one more than others without being aware of it (They do all look the same). However, upon further inspection two others are showing signs of being structurally weak in the same area.

I learned a few things this week. I learned that collars do get holes in them naturally without the shirts being worn well past their prime. I also learned that this batch of OCBDs all of which are from Lands’ End were purchased in 2007 and 2008. That is not a bad value at all when you consider that this shirt still has a very long life ahead of it. It may not make it to the office anymore, but it is just starting to get good and I didn’t even have to use sand paper (Princeton Boys and The Sandpapered Shirt Collar).

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

16 Comments on "The Ragged, Tattered, and Torn OCBD"

  1. Bluchermoc says:

    Sweet post one could only hope to have more shirts like that

  2. Roger Russell says:

    It sounds like you did get value from your purchases. However, I highly suggest that in the future that you try to find out where the cotton was grown. There are many companies out there making an American made shirt, however their cotton has been sourced from various foreign markets that grow vastly inferior varieties of cotton compared to our domestic varieties. This is a huge issue of quality and a huge topic of conversation that involves politics and other issues you guys may not want to get in to here. I will say I have never purchased a J. Press shirt because they would never reveal to me where there cotton is from. You will get holes and fraying much faster from many of the foreign varieties.. However, they are likely an attractive price point to a manufacturer.

    • MrErikJ says:

      I’m actually willing to gamble that the J Press shirts have the same cotton supplier as Brooks. Press shirts are manufactured in Brooks’ facility in Garland and seem rather similar in textile quality, but I could be wrong.

  3. Alexander_F says:

    Are there really people that would sandpaper their shirt collars ? Who in their right minds would do such a thing ? And they say punks were mad….

  4. fxh says:

    I wash all shirts in cold water and inside mesh laundry bags and hang outside on line to dry. I never use a dryer. I’m convinced not doing these things is what causes most damage not actual wearing.

    I also find running a few lines of zigzag sewing on machine over initial wear signs helps prolong longevity.

  5. fxh says:

    And all washing is on delicate cycle

  6. oxford cloth button down says:

    FXH – I wash on cold and hang dry as well. I think that 8 years is pretty good for a shirt that was worn bi-weekly/weekly. I agree with you about the dryer being the major source of wear on clothing.

  7. Lennart says:

    Jerrod, 8 years is very good!!! I once had a OCBD that lasted 12 years but it was bought back in 1982 and I believe quality was better then. My shirts tend to get holes on the left elbow.

  8. Todd says:

    Have you considered reversing the collar? I recently did this with an otherwise fine J Press oxford shirt, and with a sewing machine and a little time, it is a pretty painless procedure. It now looks good as new!

  9. FJW says:

    Wait. You have shirts from 2007 and 2008. I’m in awe!

  10. CAY says:

    A trick I learned from the J Press folks is to bring your frayed shirt to a tailor and have them cut the collar out, reverse it, and then sew it back on. It’ll look like an unfrayed shirt and you’ll get a few more years worth of wear from it. I’ve done this with three OCBDs and the cost was quite a bit cheaper than a new shirt.

  11. oxford cloth button down says:

    I may have to give the collar a flip just to learn the process. Minus the hole in the collar there is quite a bit of fraying around the top button and cuffs so even with the flip it may need to be retired from the office, but maybe not???

  12. fred johnson says:

    Personally I have never been a fan of the “frayed” shirt look for anything beyond the “around the house”
    use. Rumpled, unpressed yes; frayed cuffs and collar, not for me

  13. Roger Russell says:

    I ‘m wih Fred. However, I realize it is a statement of style some guys enjoy.

  14. I love this post… and have only one OCBD nearing this condition after about 10 years. It’s a Ralph Lauren with a yachting type embroidered logo at the neck, contrasting white placket lining under the button holes, zig zag stitching in the neck for more structure.

    No clue where I bought it (though it must have been Atlanta college days), no clue how to get another one (scoured eBay), but love it and will keep wearing it as a weekend / work around the house / hitch up the Airstream shirt.

    My newer OCBD’s are on a rotation… get two or four, wear them in frequent rotation until they are rather lived in, then phase those out of the office rotation due to minor stains more often than frayed edges. Maybe a new small batch every 6 months if you are really into bright whites, once a year if not.

    The collar flip is now on my radar… Looking forward to giving that a shot at some point down the road.

  15. andrew says:

    i have a theory that shirts with unfused, unlined collars last longer. my unscientific evidence is that my really old unfused/unlined brooks brothers shirts never wear out along the roll of the collar; i tend to end up with small holes or rips at the elbows after many years. However, my newer shirts from Brooks and any shirt from J Press, which have fused/lined collars, tend to fray along the collar. this seems to be the case whether i take them to an outside laundry (as i do for most shirts) or launder myself (i find that heavy oxford cloth shirts shrink in commercial laundry, so i wash them on warm, dry them on medium-low for 10 minutes, let them hang dry, and iron them myself). not uncommon for me to get 10 years of office wear from a good dress shirt, unless it gets stained or snagged on something.

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