Archive for June, 2023

Collar Button And Hanger Loop: Ivy Shirts To Shed Frills By Bob Hallman

Back Collar Button & Locker Loop

This article is from The Gastonia [North Carolina] Gazette for Sunday, November 7, 1965 and was re-posted on AAT by member Charles Dana. I have my own thoughts on both the back collar button and locker loop that I will be sharing in an upcoming post.

Two simple things that practically go unnoticed on some men’s shirts are causing monumental concern in the apparel industry. A button and loop on the back side of traditional shirts have many producers losing sleep and pacing the floor. REASON: To leave them on or take them off.

For the past decade, a rear collar button and a hanger loop have become standard equipment on shirts styled in the traditional pattern. They have become accepted, taken for granted, and ignored. But now comes along one of the major traditional shirt houses in the nation and says buttons and loops will cease to be on their future models.

The stir this revelation caused was akin to jamming the panic button. Contemporary firms were taken by surprise, uncertain if this was a right or wrong move. Many are still trying to decide. Gant shirtmakers, the best-known traditional shirtmaker in America, touched off the wave of restlessness. This would seem reasonable since the firm pioneered in the field of button-down collars, back-side buttons, loops, and box pleats; plus the tapered waist. Gant led and others followed. But following the leader doesn’t come so easily when a loss of business is a likely possibility. The big question coming to mind with manufacturers was simply this: ‘How will the young man react? Since this kind of business is directly pitched at the collegiate and high school set, such a query had to be resolved, else what appears to be a good move could easily turn into a bad move.

“What would be the reaction to a change? In the Carolinas, often called the Island of Natural Shoulder History, removal of both the button and loop wouldn’t cause a ripple. For, as some store men say, nobody is looking for either one any more. Samplings around the two states of stores reveal that a general feeling of ‘not important’ is being attached to both horns of the dilemma. Tommy Frederick, furnishings manager at Matthews-Belk Co., who cut his teeth on Ivy League clothes, opines: ‘I don’t think the removal of either or both will make or break a sale. If the shirt has color, fabric, name, and quality, it will sell. This feeling was reflected in areas from Raleigh, a hotbed of traditionalism, to Charleston, S. C. The consensus of opinion was that both were first introduced as fads and this has since run its course. At the same time some stores point out that while the button serves no real purpose, the loop does. You can hang up a shirt by it. So…retailers would prefer keeping the loop.

Men who have made studies in this area of apparel say the change was inevitable. Labor costs for the two operations run into six figures for many companies. Dropping them could direct attention to other areas of shirts that need improvements–like longer tails, better and more secure buttons…. The only objections to removal came from the high school set that goes steady. It seems that a boy wearing a shirt unbuttoned at the back is going steady. That means hands off.

An Overview of the New Brooks Brothers Oxford

Brooks Brothers OCBD Overview 2023

This week we have a guest post from OCBD blog reader and trad, ivy, prep enthusiast M.J. Lacayo (IG profile).

The quintessential shirt for ivy and prep enthusiasts, many mourned the loss of the Brooks
Brothers rendition made popular during the early 2000s. The declaration of bankruptcy during
the global pandemic neutered much of the ability for Brooks Brothers to recover, and the oxford
shirt was deemed to be lost, leaving loyal customers with non-iron, alpha sized imitations.

However, the OCBD has made a reappearance. Manufactured in the United States, the classic, all
cotton, and must iron shirt has finally returned (It even has a front pocket, finally!). I aim to
display the differences between this era, the previous one, and that of long ago.

At a glance, there are some minor changes to this new version of OCBD. It lacks a locker loop,
rear collar button, and gussets. However, the collar and cuff portions of the shirt are different. To
the hand they feel a little thicker, and lightly lined. If any of these are a deal breaker, congrats,
you saved a hefty $198. It doesn’t look like they will be on sale anytime soon, and now fall
under Brooks Brothers’ “new” sizing system; Slim (Milano) Regular (Regent), and Traditional

No gusset on the 2023 OCBD

The Old New Vs the New New

The old OCBD rendition (debuted around 2016 I believe) was the staple shirt for the brand,
many loved the traditional styling with all the precise details. It retailed for $140 and did go on
sale often. As a previous article noted, you can still find some of the older OCBD’s on ebay with
minor milling flaws and for a great price. I would recommend shopping there until that well runs
dry before going for the newer OCBD offering. This version had a nice, soft hand, and an
unlined collar and cuffs. It was durable for sure, and it won many hearts due to its more vintage
design and construction.

The new OCBD does feel heftier and sturdier as a whole. As previously stated, the collar and
cuffs feel lined, but nothing too disturbing. It certainly does not feel like the collars from their
non-iron OCBDs of long ago, so that’s a plus. When thrifting, I look for the 2016 version in a
Madison fit and got the 2023 version in a traditional. The differences in fit are minor to say the
least, but the new traditional fit is a tiny bit wider and longer than the Madison fit.

2016 Brooks Brothers OCBD
2023 Brooks Brothers OCBD

The Old Old Vs the New New

Confused yet? The Old Old OCBD I refer to dates back to the ones sold during the 90s, and has
the same, if not identical features of the new OCBD (the 90s version lacks MOP buttons). They
have the exact same proportions too. It seems like the designers at Brooks Brothers skipped the
early 2000s version and opted to replicate the 90s style and fit.

One minor thing to note, the new OCBD has the care tag inside the side seam rather than at the
bottom or on the size tag itself as seen on the 90s version. I know, it’s a minor distinction, but I
like the placket design more since it doesn’t get in the way of having a nicely tucked shirt. No
matter, a seam ripper and some thread will do the trick and I’ll remove it myself. As with any
shirt, I recommend a cold wash and dry hang for these 100% cotton shirts, as throwing it in the
dryer will surely shrink it.

Circa 1990s OCBD
Similar widths, the OCBD is pretty long!

To those looking to relive the good ol’ days of the Brooks Brothers OCBD, you can’t go wrong
with this one. However, I would dare say to look at the secondhand market first before paying
such a heavy asking price for the new one. They currently come in solid colors like white, blue,
pink, and striped in blue and red. If they threw out some more colors in solids and stripes, they
would be setting a strong foundation for success. For the meanwhile, however, I guess we’ll have
to deal with the pastels.

Pre-Distressed Ivy?

Pre-distressed ivy clothes sounds like an oxymoron. At best you may envision kids in the heyday distressing their own OCBDs by taking sandpaper to their collars in an attempt to achieve the well-worn look (Princeton Boys). You may say something like, my OCBDs will be worn out before I know it why on earth would I do that!?!? That’s exactly what I used to say at least until I had a revelation.

I can count at least 3 well known items in the trad/ivy cannon that fall into the pre-distressed category. These pieces have now been with us so long that they don’t even register as being pre-distressed. I am talking about dirty bucks, brushed shetland sweaters, and 3/2 roll jackets.

Sweater and Repp Tie
BB Blazer Jacket 1980 Spring

I am going to oversimplify for effect, but you’ll get the point. Dirty bucks are meant to look like old dirty white bucks. Brushed shetlands are meant to look(& feel) like shetlands that have been worn for years. 3/2 roll jackets are meant to look like 3-button jackets that have developed a roll over the years of hard use or made to imitate the trend of college kids ironing their old 3-buttons to looks like 2-buttons. Either way it is pre-distressed (see link below).

There’s a little more to the story, but that’s the gist of it. I think there are a few takeaways here. One, we trads and ivyist wear pre-distressed clothes. Two, some fads become trends and some trends become classics. Three, broken in clothing is more desirable and comfortable than new clothes. It’s not just about looking worn. It is also about feeling broken in.

Recommended Reading
I did a deep dive on the origins of 3/2 roll jackets way back when on my blog. There is a lot of great information in that post. Especially in the comment section. Here is a link: The Plausible History of the 3/2 Roll

A Summers Tweed by J.Press Pennant Label

I have been watching the developments of the Pennant Label at J.Press with interest. I posted about their sport coats during my 3/2 roll roundup not long ago. I emailed them to get a few more details about the jacket and the line itself. The fine folks over at J.Press were kind enough to send me one of their summer tweeds to test out.

Let me tell you what they told me about the summer tweed. By they I mean none other than Robert Squillaro the Sr. Vice President & Chief Merchandising Officer at J.Press (Check him out at Ivy Style). What he told me is that this jacket is obviously aimed at a younger audience than J.Press’s main line and that it is meant to ride the fence between sport coat and a jacket. It’s not made in the USA like most things at Press, but that was a decision that they had to make to keep it affordable. I really appreciated all of the inside baseball from Robert.

What do I think about the summer tweed? First and foremost, it has a classic 3/2 roll ivy silhouette. So classic that when I put it on it conjured up images of Brooks Brothers No.1 from 1901. The jacket is dart-less, the edges are swelled, the quarters are open which is rare these days, and the shoulders are soft. It is lightweight and unlined. You can even see some light through the weave if you hold it up. Although it would still be a little hot to wear in the full heat of summer. However, I think that’s true for all sport coats and blazers no matter the material. It would work nicely on a cool summer morning and in any air conditioned office.

How it fits. It’s alpha sized so fit is going to vary. I am a 37S and the small fits me a lot better than I anticipated. It covers my rear which was my number one worry. The shoulders are a touch big but because it’s unstructured the shoulders are very forgiving and it’s hardly noticeable. The downside is that because it’s unstructured you will get some creasing around the trap and shoulder area. Being unlined makes it cooler but also a tad challenging to get on and off. Lined sleeves would have fixed that but would have also made it warmer. The button stance is maybe a touch high. As with any jacket I need get the sleeves taken up. I might benefit from a touch of waist suppression, but I doubt that I will do that. I would call this size small a 37S/38S (see measurements below).

Overall I am a big fan. Its versatility is what I like most after the shape. The tweed material makes it both casual and sophisticated. I can dress it up with a tie and khakis, but at the same time it would look great simply thrown on with jeans and an OCBD. While they call it a summer tweed I will be wearing this fall, winter, and spring.

Measurements for size small:
Pit-to-Pit: 17.5″
Chest: 20″
Length: 28.5″

A Couple of Leads

If you’ve been into this trad/ivy thing for a while you already know most of the shops. One of the reasons that I stopped blogging (the first time, lol) is that I felt like I was mostly just saying go to JPress or O’Connell’s. Nothing wrong with that, but it seemed to me that I was not adding a lot to the conversation. I will try to add something new in this post.

If you are looking for a Made in USA Brooks Brothers OCBD for the low checkout my guy Steve Smith’s eBay store he has got them for cheap. He’s been around the scene since the Ask Andy Trad days selling slightly flawed (and some not flawed) shirts from the North Carolina factory. He still has a great inventory to this day. Prices range from around $48-78 dollars for a BB OCBD. This is a great place to a get a great shirt. It’s especially nice for those that are on a budget, but still want all the bells and whistles.

Next up is a vintage spot. I don’t shop vintage all that often, but I do hit up the Placid Vintage Etsy shop. I’ve primarily purchased ties here, but there are lots of goodies to be had and the prices are fair which is rare in a curated vintage shop. Bradley has a great selection of shirts and sport coats. There are even a few things that I have my eye on right now.

Hopefully one of these places is new to you. Apologies in advance if I blew up any ones secret spot. That was not my intent, but I don’t want to gatekeep the goods. If you have a lead on a shop that you’d like to share we’d love to hear about it in the comments.