I’m the guy who, more often than not, reaches for a fitted black t-shirt from his closet.
Not because I lack style (at least I hope not!) but because I know I look good in a black t-shirt. It’s an enduring, time-tested style I can rely on.
Like a fitted black T, there are a handful of timeless menswear garments that have become ingrained in the fabric of global culture and continue to be worn and restyled today.
Bomber jackets, chinos, polos, and not least, Oxford shirts.
Ben Sherman, inspired by the values of its late founder, continues to release timeless apparel with an original, inventive flourish. I tried on 5 of their newest and most popular garments and captured all my thoughts below.
What Is Ben Sherman?
Ben Sherman is a longstanding British menswear brand that produces a wide and eclectic collection of garments including shirts, sports coats, dress pants, polos, tees, pants, joggers, sweaters, and loungewear.
The brand was founded by a man named, yep, Ben Sherman, back in 1963 in Brighton, England. After a stint in the United States working in clothing manufacturing, Sherman returned home to England to take care of his sick mother and rented a factory in Bedford Square, Brighton to continue the craft he learned abroad.
His initial designs were inspired by the Classic American Ivy League Shirt, but Sherman added fresh colors, patterns, and fabrics and infused nuances into the shirt like a back hook and button on the collar.
Sherman was particularly fascinated by color which led him to use Oxford fabrics in hues of pink, yellow, and blue.
Sherman’s shirts gained popularity among British youth movements of varying decades and the Ben Sherman shirt has since become a cultural mainstay worn by style icons new and old.
Today, 5 decades later, Ben Sherman and the inventive, experimental style that defines the brand, continues to thrive both in England and around the world urging men to “embrace the new and different and reject the normal and mundane.”
Things to Consider Before Buying
There are pieces in Ben Sherman’s catalog that would proudly elevate any guy’s wardrobe. But there are others that might veer far outside your comfort zone. Ben Sherman is a preppier, younger man’s brand and the colors and patterns reflect that.
I’ll still argue that since the British, and much of Europe, dress more dapper than other parts of the world, Ben Sherman’s catalog translates well across borders and age groups.
My Hands-On Review
I got my hands on 5 garments: 1 Oxford button up, 3 different polos, and 1 harrington jacket.
Everything you need to know about the cut, fit, style, and color of these pieces is written below.
Ben Sherman Brighton Oxford Shirt
The Brighton Oxford is the centerpiece of the brand, it’s as classic as any men’s shirt could be, and what gained Mr. Sherman global notoriety decades ago.
Some of you guys might be wondering, “what exactly is an Oxford?” An Oxford is a type of dress shirt that’s got a slightly stiffer build than a traditional dress shirt and holds its shape better.
Oxfords also feature a buttoned-down collar that won’t flop around throughout the day or get lost under the lapels of a blazer or overshirt.
Today, Ben Sherman’s Brighton Oxford is composed of 100% organic cotton which makes a world of difference. This shirt is soft yet substantial and maintains its crisp structure even as you move around in it throughout the day.
This shirt fits slim over your torso but offers a relaxed fit that isn’t restrictive, either. Ben Sherman treated the Brighton Oxford with a Beatnik garment wash which gives it a softer, almost gently worn-in feel.
A small, almost indiscernible “B” sits flush against the front pocket and was taken from Ben Sherman’s original signature in 1963.
This feels as properly sown and constructed as any Oxford I’ve ever slipped on, even from ultra luxury brands that charge you a fortune.
This is one of the sharpest button downs I’ve ever slid on. It’s soft yet structured unlike looser, sheenier dress shirts.
This shirt toes the line between being formal but not too formal. It’s versatile and elegant and one of the few shirts you could style with a suit or sport’s coat or with jeans or chinos.
I’d wear this for a date, to a ticketed event, or just on a weekday to the office. This is, as the Brits might say, “ top class.”
Every guy should own a white Oxford shirt for its versatility alone. Ben Sherman's centerpiece, the Brighton Oxford is crafted from soft yet substantial 100% cotton and having given it plenty of wear-tests, we can tell it's built to last.
Signature Harrington Jacket
The Harrington Jacket is a lightweight, all-weather cotton jacket with subtle accents and classic styling. This is a classy but unpretentious top layer that pairs well with any type of shirt and elevates your outfit without appearing like a blazer or sport’s coat.
Ben Sherman infused a signature pop of color in the internal trim which displays a red, white, and blue checkered “house gingham” pattern. The Harrington has two pockets, one on each side. A small buttoned flap holds the pockets closed, which I felt could have been left off.
The Harrington takes on the ribbed cuffs and hem of a sportier jacket like a Letterman, but serves up a slightly dressier two-button collar that I think looks tasteful and minimal.
The lightweight cotton fabric is easy to move around in and won’t heat you up, but it’s also not nearly as breathable as technical fabrics you might find from athleisure brands.
The zipper on the Harrington Jacket felt a bit stiff , but Ben Sherman does well to embrace customer feedback and has been working to enhance it.
I’m not alone on this, and in an effort to upgrade the Harrington jacket based on customer feedback, Ben Sherman is enhancing the zipper on newly purchased models of the jacket coming out in a few, short months. I love to see brands that embrace customer feedback and take ownership of improving their products.
This is an excellent wardrobe staple that would elevate pretty much any casual outfit and look sharp over a crew or v-neck t-shirt, a henley, or a button down.
With its eye-catching red, white, and blue internal trim, the Harrington Jacket is a lightweight, all-weather cotton jacket that would elevate most casual outfits and look sharp over a crew or v-neck t-shirt, a henley, or a button down.
The Mod Polos
I tried both the Iconic Vertical Stripe Mod Polo and the Button-Through Mod Knit Polo. The difference is that Vertical Stripe has a pull-over design with 3 buttons leading up to the collar and the Button-Through buttons from top to bottom the way a short-sleeve button up would.
The name “Mod” is short for the “Modernists”, a wave of young, postwar British men in the 60s who mimicked the sleek Italian styles of the time and revered Ben Sherman’s shirts for the slim fit and adventurous colors and design elements.
These Mod Polos are composed of 100% cotton that’s both soft and substantial. A “knit” polo means the cotton feels similar to a thin sweater and hugs your body differently than a regular polo would.
Both of these Mod Polos accentuate your arms and fit fairly close to the body, but have a bit of stretch that gives way.
Neither the Vertical Stripe, nor the Button-Through lack audacious colors or patterns.
The Iconic Vertical Stripe Mod Polo in dark navy features thick, two-tone orange and blue stripes that occupy the entire front of the shirt, cut up by straight black lines and zig-zagging white lines that are raised off the shirt for added texture.
This pattern is a touch bold for my personal style but some guys would gladly embrace a pop of color and pattern in their polo. The Vertical Stripe undoubtedly stands out from the monotonous noise of single-toned polos which, I think we can all agree, can feel pretty dang boring at times.
This pattern doesn’t lack swagger, however, and gives me retro, Spanish-style, Miami-yacht-club vibes. Gents, do with that what you will.
The Button-Through Mod Knit Polo in ivory is a blast from the past, reviving the look of patterns from decades ago. This polo reflects a subdued cream color with thick blue and black stripes on each side of the front of the shirt.
These are playful, bold patterns for playful, bold occasions. If you need something to spruce up your closet, the Mod Polos are an excellent place to start.
The Signature Polo
The Signature Polo is a classic polo that’s been slightly elevated with organic cotton and contrasted tipped details around the sleeves and collar.
This polo offers a normal fit, which is looser and more casual than the knit Mod Polos and doesn’t hug the arms or torso as much.
The material of this polo felt about the same as other polos I’ve tried but the organic cotton is both better for the environment and feels better on your skin.
The Signature Polo didn’t blow me away, but it certainly didn’t let me down, either. It’s about as simple and straightforward as you can get. This polo comes in 12 various colors ranging from soft sky blue and white to burnt orange and jade.
This polo pairs well with almost anything and if you opt for a brighter color, it will surely stand out as the eye-catching element of any outfit.
You've seen it everywhere---Ben Sherman's Signature Polo is another hallmark of the brand that's more than earned its stripes. It's made from organic cotton which is as good for the environment as it is for your skin.
What do Other Reviewers Say?
I hunted around online to see what other guys were saying about Ben Sherman. Most of the guys who tried out the Oxford shirt praised its soft materials and quality build. A few guys mentioned how nice it was to be able to leave the shirt tucked or untucked and to dress it up or down. I couldn’t agree more.
Though, reviews did differ from item to item. Some guys thought the new Harrington Jackets weren’t nearly as quality as Ben Sherman’s previous models of the jacket. Be sure to read a few reviews on whichever garment you’re considering buying before you pull the trigger.
A number of guys online were shipped either the wrong sized item, or the wrong item altogether which is always a hassle. This could be related to European versus American sizing and dealing with the logistics of shipping overseas and across borders.
In most of the cases I found online, a Ben Sherman rep stepped in to help and got the issue cleared up, so it looks like Ben Sherman is on top of this.
My Thoughts Overall
What I Like
A thoughtful, balanced mix of classic and eclectic styles.
The Brighton Oxford is a premium button up that is soft, yet structured and can be dressed up or down.
Ben Sherman’s catalog incorporates styles from multiple decades.
The brand is creating quality pieces with soft, durable, 100% organic cotton.
The Harrington Jacket exudes a minimal, classy style that pairs well with anything.
What I Don’t Like
The zipper on the Harrington Jacket could be better, but I’m told the Ben Sherman team is already working to improve it.
The quality of a few of Ben Sherman’s garments don’t match the premium price tag.
A number of guys online had issues getting the correct item and size shipped to them.
Who is Ben Sherman for?
This is a younger man’s brand, but one that doesn’t feel entirely youthful, instead serving up both bold and preppy colors and patterns and dressier garments that could be worn on the street and to more formal gatherings.
Ben Sherman is for guys who appreciate simple, timeless attire like a well-made Oxford, and for guys who are looking to infuse bold, eclectic styles and patterns into their wardrobe. There’s something in this catalog that would complement every guy’s wardrobe out there.
The Ben Sherman Brighton Oxford, produced out of 100% organic cotton, is soft, but sturdy and is truly a timeless garment that would elevate every guy’s wardrobe.
If you gravitate toward bolder patterns and colors, Ben Sherman’s catalog has an array of both casual and dress shirts that will brighten up your wardrobe. On the flip side, if you need a couple of timeless pieces you can wear anywhere, they’ve got those too.
I’d start with one of their iconic Oxford shirts made out of 100% organic cotton, it’s a beautiful shirt that can be worn on nearly every occasion.
Where are Ben Sherman shirts made?
Ben Sherman shirts are designed in Brighton, England and produced in several different countries around the world.
How is the quality of Ben Sherman?
Ben Sherman is a quality menswear brand producing 100% organic cotton Oxford shirts and an array of other garments. Like most brands with enormous catalogs, quality differs item to item, so be sure to do your research.
Is Ben Sherman a Designer brand?
Ben Sherman is marketed as a premium menswear brand from Brighton, England.