What Is the Difference Between an Oxford Shirt and Dress Shirt?

It’s not uncommon for Oxford shirts to be confused with dress shirts and vice versa. Considering they are both “dress” shirts, it’s not technically wrong to call an Oxford shirt a dress shirt. However, an Oxford shirt is made of the material it’s named after (the Oxford cloth), while dress shirts are made from various fabrics.

Both these shirts also vary in terms of function. Most dress shirts are specifically worn beneath a suit jacket or blazer, but Oxford shirts are not exactly limited to that.

Today, we’ll check out the differences between the Oxford shirt and a dress shirt so that you can wear each in a fashion-appropriate way. You can also drop by Stylish Alpha for more information on these essential pieces of men’s clothing.

The Oxford Shirt

The Oxford shirt belongs to the men’s dress shirt category. However, it is different from an ordinary dress shirt in many ways. The fabric used is basketweave, which is what sets it apart from other dress shirt variations. The weave is basically a heavy yarn woven crosswise against a pair of lengthwise-woven lighter yarns.

Another telltale quality of the Oxford shirt is its button-down collar, giving it a more casual appearance. It is an embodiment of sleek and casual combined with ease and comfort. This combo is the reason for its popularity among modern-day fashion enthusiasts.

An Oxford shirt can also go with different types of clothing pieces, from blue jeans to achieve that casual look to a suit jacket for a more formal ensemble. It was first regarded as a sports shirt, as it was often worn by university students who played polo and similar activities. Since then, it has become a staple piece of wardrobe for the quintessential preppy college-goer.

The Dress Shirt

A typical dress shirt is a collared shirt that opens at the front. It also has long sleeves that open at the wrist cuffs and can be worn beneath a suit jacket or blazer. The collars are usually stiff to support the suit jacket’s lapels right above it and the necktie underneath it.

While dress shirts can be classified as formal, they’re not as formal as an actual formal shirt. Still, they are appropriate enough to wear for business meetings, dinner dates, and job interviews. You want to wear them tucked in and with or without a necktie.

Usually, they come in more neutral colors and styles to fit the semi-formal and formal atmospheres they’re often worn to. Dress shirts can often be found in pink, lavender, white, and blue colors, as well as patterns like checks, stripes, and solids. Material-wise, you can either get them in cotton or a variety of cotton blends.

As far as collar style, the point collar and spread collar are popular options for dress shirts. They differ in terms of the collar point angle, which is below 60 degrees for the point collar and above 90 degrees for the spread collar.

Oxford and Dress Shirt Differences

Still not sure which is which? To sum up, these are the areas where the Oxford shirt and dress shirt differ:

Shirt Category

Although all Oxford shirts are classified as dress shirts, most dress shirts can’t be called Oxford shirts. A normal dress shirt has long sleeves and a collar and can be worn beneath a suit jacket or blazer. On the other hand, an Oxford shirt is less formal and made for a more everyday preppy look.


The fabric used to make Oxford shirts comes from basketweave. On the other hand, the fabrics used to create other dress shirts come in different variations. Basically, if a dress shirt’s material isn’t Oxford, then it’s just an ordinary dress shirt.


The collars on Oxford shirts are button-down, while those in other types of dress shirts are either spread or pointed. This can mean the difference between smart-casual and formal, which makes it an important distinction to consider.


Oxford shirts can help you achieve that preppy university look that’s relaxed and stylish at the same time. Conversely, an ordinary dress shirt is more formal and professional and conveys sophistication. Dress shirts usually tell people you mean business.

Dress Code

If you want to don a smart and casual look, Oxford shirts are the way to go. On the other hand, those attending a business meeting or presentation will find that a regular dress shirt is the more appropriate choice.

Knowing When To Use Oxford Shirts and Dress Shirts

Knowing the differences between the Oxford shirt and regular dress shirt helps you discern which is better worn for a particular occasion or look. As obvious as these differences are to the trained eye, they could just as easily be overlooked by an inexperienced one. No one wants to commit a fashion faux pas in public, so start your dress shirt education today.