The Oxford shirt: 5 ways to wear it

The classic Oxford shirt isn’t just for the office. Here’s how to style it for any occasion

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Oxford shirt

Oxford shirts aren’t just for the office

Forget for a second, the notion that a classic white Oxford can only be paired with drab dress pants or a pencil skirt. The understated piece that shares space with all your work attire is finally breaking out of its conservative shell this season. With some clever styling tips, you can create updated trendy looks using the ultimate basic. 

Before you start jazzing up your Oxford, it’s imperative to ensure the fit is correct. An ill-fitting shirt will do you no favours. There should be no pulling when you button your shirt and it should just skim your silhouette. Excess fabric shouldn’t be hanging off of you either, creating a bubble-like appearance – and the sleeves shouldn’t be too long or too short. If in doubt, it’s a good idea to stick to a “slim fit” Oxford, tailored to your curves. Experiment with different brands until you find one that perfectly accentuates your assets.


Pictured here (and throughout): Judith and Charles Bleeker Shirt, $225

Read on for a few unconventional ways to style this classic shirt.

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There are various ways to make your Oxford shirt sexy. The easiest way is by pairing it with something short – a pair of dressy shorts or an embellished mini skirt would allow your legs to be the center of attention. With the right pair of heels, this look will create the illusion of long limbs without screaming sexy from the rooftops. Understated sexiness is hard to achieve, but the balance of an Oxford shirt paired with a skirt or shorts will provide just that.


J. Crew Collection Sequin Shorts, $198; Steve Madden Birdcage Heels, $120 at Town Shoes; Kenneth Cole Mixed Multi Chain Necklace, $105 at Hudson’s Bay; ELA Studded Editors Pouch, $238 at Eluxe.

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Whoever said you couldn’t rock your Oxford shirt on the weekend? If you want to create a casual look, experiment with pairing your oxford shirt with a flowy summer skirt like a maxi, or wear it on top of a jersey sundress and tie an ’80s-style knot.

Sometimes lazy Sundays call for even more heavy-duty comfort. Since the Oxford is quite tailored, it works well with trendy items like pajama-style shorts or pants. Accessorize with a necklace, kitten heels or flats and a structured bag to ensure you still look polished. A jean jacket or leather moto jacket will add the perfect model-off-duty accent to your casual look.


H&M Leather Jacket, $150 at H&M; Joe Fresh Stripe Tote, $39 at Loblaws and Real Canadian Superstores; Biko Ship’s Wheel Compass Necklace, $69 at Biko; Anthropologie Foxtrotter Loafers, $170 at Anthropologie; Trina Turk ‘Mariane’ Drawstring Silk Pants, $278 at Nordstrom.

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Creating a trendy look using an Oxford is probably the most fun way to style it. Mix and match textures by pairing your Oxford shirt with leather, feathers or even vinyl.

Culottes will be quite the trend this season so you’ll have no issue finding a pair at most of your favourite retailers. Retro wide leg pants have also received an updated look so consider pairing your oxford with a high-waisted pair for an ultra-trendy look.

H&M Gold Link Necklace, $18 at H&M; Ann Taylor Maura Peep Toe Wedges, $172 at Ann Taylor; SOCIÉTÉ ANONYME Culottes, $283 at Far Fetch; Club Monaco Mayle JM Bag, $495 at Club Monaco.

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If we’ve taught you anything so far, it’s that the classic Oxford shirt knows no bounds, even at a formal black-tie affair.

If you want to forego a dress, try pairing your oxford shirt with a luxe full skirt in a satin material or a floor-length skirt in chiffon. Sometimes, seemingly odd pairings work quite well together.

Pair your two-piece ensemble with your most formal heels, chandelier earrings and a clutch to complete the look.

Tibi Silk Faille Full Skirt, $525 at Tibi; Nine West Givmelux Satin Pump, $140 at Nine West; Embellished Satin Clutch, $50 at Le Chateau; Swarovski Almost Pierced Earrings, $160; Headmistress Fur Collar (sold out). Similar option available at Headmistress.

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Women have far more options than men when it comes to office attire. Depending on your office’s dress code, you can easily create a fun twist on the classic Oxford-and-pencil-skirt pairing without appearing unprofessional.

Look for skirts and pants with fun embellishments like harem dress pants or a pencil skirt with an asymmetrical hemline.  Zippers, pockets, patterns, appliqué and beading will also put some pep into a typically drab office outfit. 

As much as we value a great pair of classic black pumps, we’re sure there’s nothing in the code of conduct that says you can’t throw on a pair of bright coloured pumps to brighten up even the most boring of meetings. 

Sheath Skirt with Zips, $80 at Zara; Jade Tote, $99 at Danier; Boucle Blazer, $74 at ASOS; Necklace, $24 at Shop for Jayu; Pump, available at Nine West.

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