August 28, 2011

Guest Post: The Hipster/Urban Lumberjack Misnomer and OCBDs

I've been traveling for the past ten days on a flyfishing/wedding expedition to Montana so while I'm working on putting together the photos and posts from all that, I've asked my oldest friend Matt to put together a post for you that's a bit more clothes-oriented than I usually do since I feel like this blog is getting a little too fly-fishingy and Matt is a sharp dresser. --Eds.

I’d like to debunk the misnomer that neither I nor (almost all of) my friends are “hipsters” or “urban lumberjacks.” Let’s get a few things clear first: I wear slim jeans, I like plaid shirts, and I ride a fixed gear bicycle. However, I also like undarted three button suits with the lapel rolled to the second button, J. Press ties, Brooks Brothers oxford cloth button downs.

So what does that make me? I’d like to say something along the lines of “urban prep.” (Again, whatever that is/means). Regardless, I’m not a hipster. I’d like to make that abundantly clear. So what defines my style and how did it evolve? To begin with, I like old things. I like the classics—classic novels, classic films, classic music. I also like history. I just returned from a five-week stint in London and my favorite highlight was doing a pub crawl to five of the oldest that London had to offer (and then hitting two more or the top ten the following day). I think that is the thing that defines me as far as style goes, and, in a weird way, has since I began dressing myself. As I said, I like the classics. Classic in a sense that despite the immediate fit
changing, the style and the materials would be recognizable to an older generation. However, I personally don’t take that to an extreme. It leans toward the cartoonish, detracting from the credibility. If you look like a caricature, how will anyone take you seriously?

When Brian asked me to write something, I thought I’d go to the foundation of any good wardrobe: literally the shirt on my back. The shirt that every man should own—the classic American shirt—is the oxford cloth shirt with a buttoned-down collar. It can be dressed up; it can be dressed down; it is comfortable under a suit; it is comfortable with a pair of jeans or a pair of shorts.

So what do you look for in an “OCBD?” For me, it’s two things. First I look at the weight of the fabric, and then I look at the collar roll. I prefer Brooks Brothers. They are the classic and still made in America. Furthermore, they are made in three different fits: traditional, slim and extra slim. Wait for a sale, and buy 3. They are not cheap, but these shirts will literally last you for 30 years, and the fabric is heavy enough and durable enough to withstand almost anything you throw at it—also, frayed seams are encouraged, just not in the office.

The shirts come in white, blue, yellow, pink, and blue or red striped. The yellow and pink are (again) the classic colors for an oxford shirt. In fact, Brooks Brothers introduced the pink shirt to men in the first place. Don’t be afraid of colors, but save the pink and the yellow for the weekends or off days—white and blue are for the office. Just wash, hang dry and you’ll be good to go. Also, if you ever needed an added bonus, there is almost nothing sexier in the world than your woman coming to bed with nothing on but your oxford cloth button down.

But what about non-iron, you ask?  Personally, I have an aversion to non-iron.  To be honest, they irritate my neck, but otherwise they are not “classic” and as such I avoid.  If you’d rather spend less than the high cost of Brooks, I highly recommend the Lands’ End Hyde Park oxford.  Well made and heavy as hell.  Either way, you can’t go wrong with the OCBD.  It’s timeless and works well in just about every situation.  I’m not sure what gets more classic than that. (I buy non-iron because I hate to iron. Just that simple. --Eds.)


  1. I go for what ever is practical and lasts the longest. I'm as far away from hipster as possible rather unfashionable. I'd like to be but I don't have the inclination even though I kinda like the urban lumberjack. How would that work for someone like me that does actually live in the country? Would I be a Country Lumberjack or just a lumberjack?

  2. Well, I think unless you physically cut down trees for a living, then I suppose...the lumberjack moniker doesn't strictly apply. However, living in the country gives you license to wear all manner of garments that are otherwise ridiculous in the city (Barbour jackets and Wellies, for instance). Also, I'm totally with you on the practicality/built to last side of things. Who cares what it costs if you know you'll have it forever?

  3. Brian we see eye to eye. Thats basically my fashion philosophy! Practicality and wear to last.

  4. wtf are y'all talking about…….geezus