Items You Should Always Look for First in Your Local Thrift Store/s: The Blue OCBD
Inspired by Kiyoshi’s post today over at The Silentist regarding investment-worthy wardrobe essentials, in this case Brooks Brothers’ white OCBD, I thought I’d post a short piece on another wardrobe essential that you should always look for first in your local thrift before investing in one off-the-rack or MTM.
The classic blue oxford cloth button down, or, as it is often more affectionately referred to, the blue OCBD. This shirt is a classic for a reason, and its perceived classic-ness has made it the go-to ‘dress’ shirt for many an American man for some years now. Though it is not a formal dress shirt per se, the decline in the American man’s sartorial sensibilities over the last several decades left the blue OCBD alone as the one ‘dress’ shirt every man thought he ought to own. Reduced from its glory days as the casual shirt par excellence of the Ivy/collegiate set, it had earned a place in the desolate sartorial landscape of fin de siecle menswear as the shirt to be worn for work interviews, to weddings, an anniversary dinner, whatever…
Not to worry, this sad story about a classic garment’s decline has some bright sides to it too. They exist in abundance. Tucked away somewhere in almost every American man’s wardrobe is at least one blue OCBD. Many of these make their way to the thrift shops as some men have moved even further away from any pretensions towards dressiness, and have settled into the comforts of doing any and everything in gym shorts and flip-flops. Others who have embraced the sartorial renaissance in menswear may have gotten rid of some blue OCBDs that no longer meet their exacting standards, or ones that may have fit their more corpulent selves of yesteryear.
These are your thrift store gems. The guy who now only buys American-made clothing, and has cast off his perfectly fine Polo blue OCBDs made in Hong Kong, Malaysia, or elsewhere. The man who started hitting the gym 5 times a week, and has lost 40 lbs since his last birthday…He’s got no need for his Brooks Bros. blue OCBD, he wears extra-slim now dammit!
Most regions of the nation with a modicum of suburbanity or any pretenses towards cosmopolitanism (i.e., almost all of the U.S.) will be supersaturated with the blue OCBD, and the local thrifts will be similarly overstocked with them. I cannot tell you how many blue OCBDs I flip past every single time I go thrifting. It is the one garment (besides relaxed fit pleated khakis) that I see the most. If you’re working on building a solid warbdrobe, but want to save your money for those investment-worthy pieces that Kiyoshi is writing about, then give your local thrift a look for a blue OCBD, I’m guessing you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you find.