How did the oxford button-down shirt become a style icon?
The oxford cloth button-down shirt, named for the esteemed university, originated as a sport shirt. At the turn of the last century, polo players in England would wear formal, long-sleeved shirts made of oxford cotton—a breathable and sturdy basket-weave cloth. The collars were made with buttons to prevent them from flapping during matches, starting a trend soon adapted for tennis shirts as well. The oxford first appeared in the United States at the turn of the century, and its popularity took off in the 1950s, by which time the look had become associated with classic Ivy League style.