- Apr 10, 2011
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I feel like I'm repeating myself, but historically, oxfords were just worn with suits. There are some small exceptions. Some dandies, such as Tom Wolfe, wore casual oxfords with sport coats (he made white oxfords his "thing" and wore them with everything, including when he wasn't in a suit). There are also many examples of men wearing things such as spectator oxfords with sport coats for sporting activities or vacation. But these are not the sort of oxfords people are talking about here.It's not that the sportcoat itself is costume, or out of place or unnatural. It's the notion that if you throw oxfords on with it, you are now 'out of costume'.
I just can't help but feel that there's at least a subtle incongruity here. You can take the casual suit and put loafers and a knit with it, or you can change those out for oxfords and a tie. But you can't take a blazer with a shirt and tie and pair oxfords with it. So you can 'dress up' the casual suit but not the blazer (or other sportcoat on the sharper side). Why would one be different from the other?
Historically, men wore all types of shoes with suits -- oxfords, derbies, loafers, boots, etc. With a sport coat, they mostly wore casual shoes.
I posted a bunch of examples in this thread, using old photos and Apparel Arts illustrations. People said that this was not, in fact, a social norm. I asked people to post counter-examples, but received none.
Again, it's fine to say you don't want to dress like these people or you feel these norms are antiquated. This has nothing to do with dressing for the office according to 1960s norms, but understanding that look. If you like that look, I've laid out what I think are some guidelines to help recreate it. Most men don't live a British gentleman or even an American elite lifestyle where such norms will be meaningful in a social setting. But they make take private pleasure in dressing in ways they've admired on other men. This is not about applying a 1960s business rule to modern business, but applying a 1960s (or 30s through '80s) aesthetic to modern life in a way that will look natural today.
I have no interest in historic business culture. I only have an interest in historic classic men's style. If someone shares that interest, then there are some guidelines on how to recreate those looks.