What is Oxford Cloth?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

As a durable option, Oxford cloth has been a staple of clothing that is now making its way into other types of applications. Here is some background into the creation of this cloth, as well as examples of how it can be used.

Oxford cloth may be used to make casual and dress shirts.
Oxford cloth may be used to make casual and dress shirts.

Originally made of only cotton, Oxford cloth utilizes a warp that that combines two fine filaments that are woven together to create a basket weave pattern that is sturdy but still allows the fabric to breathe. In fact, the material gets its name from the term that defines the process, which is referred to as the Oxford weave.

Oxford cloth is machine washable.
Oxford cloth is machine washable.

The spin of the filaments results in a feel that is smooth to the touch without being silky. Today, Oxford fabric is not only produced from cotton. Polyester and rayon may be introduced to make a synthetic blend that is ideal for casual shirts, the traditional button down Oxford shirts that are the ideal middle ground between casual and dressy, walking shorts, and a number of other casual wear items.

Along with long and short sleeved shirts, Oxford cloth has begun to make an impact around the home as well. As a sturdy solution, it is an ideal fabric to use for window treatments in children’s rooms, as well as duvet covers, pillow shams, and wall hangings. It can also be an inexpensive material to use in the construction of screen panels that will fit over a wooden frame. Machine washable, this fabric is easy to maintain, and tends to hold its shape. The result is household items that require little or no ironing after going through the laundry process.

One innovative use of Oxford cloth today is for wall coverings. The light weave of the fabric makes it ideal for absorbing liquid starch. Using sections of fabric that have been soaked in the starch, apply the sections to the clean wall and smooth with a wallpaper brush. What makes this cloth so attractive is that the material can be purchased in bulk and easily removed when a change is desired. Persons who are renting or leasing a living space can use it as a solution to introducing color into a room that is not permanent. The material will simply pull off the walls easily, and a quick wash will remove all traces of the starch residue.

Oxford cloth may be used for curtains.
Oxford cloth may be used for curtains.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


What are "button down" shirts?


@Potterspop - Yes, you can get Oxford cloth sheets and pillowcases. Personally I think they get even softer and comfortable after each run through the wash, but they retain their quality feel.

I think plain white is the classiest, but I've seen sheets in various shades and patterns so there's something for everyone.


I have several Oxford button down shirts, which are so comfortable I could wear them day and night with no problem.

Saying that makes me wonder, it is also available in sheet sets too? My current bedding has a high thread count and they're way too slippery for my taste.


I first came across this wonderful material when I met my fiancee. He wore Oxford cloth boxers and I was very impressed by the feel and quality.

They're 100% cotton and I actually have a few pink tinted pairs that I wear myself now too! The color hasn't faded, despite the many washes they've had. Plus, the added bonus of not needing to be ironed makes them my go to underwear.

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