09
Apr

Review: Hugh & Crye dress shirts

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When I first started trying to rebuild my wardrobe, one of the first things I did was swear off shirts that didn’t come in my exact neck and sleeve size. No more alpha (small, medium, large, etc.) sizing, as I could never find a combination that fit my frame correctly. Over time, I developed a preference for custom, made-to-measure shirts. Going back to ready-to-wear is a tough proposition. 

But as I’ve said countless times in dress shirt reviews before, made-to-measure isn’t for everyone. And if you’re fortunate to be able to buy items off the rack that you enjoy and fit well, then you should do it because it’ll save you time and you can often find good deals. 

I wanted to provide that personal background so you can understand my experience with Hugh & Crye better. They have the most unique sizing I’ve ever encountered and when they contacted me to review one of their shirts, I had to ask them for help on what “size” shirt to pick from. They were extremely helpful, but I would point out that it helps to know your basic measurements.

Instead of sizing guys by neck and sleeve, they size you by your build (skinny, slim, athletic, broad) and height (short, average, tall). That’s it. 

I won’t deny being highly skeptical of the idea, but it actually worked for me. They placed me in the “tall/skinny” fit, which I suppose is an accurate description of body. 

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I received their Rockefeller shirt that features a spread collar, barrel cuff, placket front and no pocket on a blue and white striped poplin fabric made of 120s Egyptian cotton.

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The collar stands pretty well, even after two washes now. I hate collar stays (and the shirt includes removable ones), and I liked the fact the collar managed to stay up well without them under a jacket. 

The buttons are plastic, but they are decently thick and don’t feel cheap at all. Along the placket’s end, the bottom buttonhole is horizontal. This allows the shirt to move as your waist expands to have some give without stressing the placket and causing it to pull (probably helpful to those of us who drink too much beer or enjoy pasta). 

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The shirt’s side seams feature single-needle construction, which is preferred to the double-needle construction you see on cheaper and lower-quality shirts. 

The back of the shirt is darted, helping trim and taper the torso’s extra fabric. I’ll admit that I don’t have my MTM shirts darted, but I’ve never minded when ready-to-wear shirts add darts. I feel they only help the shirt fit better. 

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At the base of the side seams are Hugh & Crye’s signature contrasting gussets, which help prevent the shirt’s seams from splitting from stress. I haven’t seen gussets like this before and thought they looked pretty cool. Thankfully, the contrasting fabric is tastefully complimentary and simple. 

The shirt’s construction overall felt well done. Hugh & Crye’s site says they primarily manufacture their shirts in India and source fabrics from Italy. In addition, they have a rather comprehensive disclosure page about their sourcing. I thought this was rather a rather interesting level of transparency, which I hope becomes more common from others. 

In regards to the fit of the shirt, I really liked it and their approach to sizing worked for me — a pleasant surprise. Their shirts range from $85 to $125, slightly more expensive than Brooks Brothers, but cheaper than many department store brands.

I would add Hugh & Crye to a very short list of ready-made shirtmakers I’d recommend. Combined with a good variety of classic fabrics and thoughtful construction, they’ve managed to produce a competitively priced shirt. 

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19
Mar

Review: Hall & Madden dress shirts

The premise behind Hall & Madden is simple: it’s a dress shirt subscription.

You pick your size, pick your fit and every 3, 4 or 6 months (depending on your plan) they’ll send you three dress shirts in a box for $150.

It’s an intriguing concept, blending the concepts of subscription-clothing startups like Manpacks and Trunk Club and narrowing the focus on just dress shirts. It’s a service targeting its product at guys who desire a well-fitting shirt based on sizing they’re familiar with and sold at a price that’s extremely competitive while maintaining use of high quality construction and fabrics. 

Hall & Madden comes from the same gentlemen behind Proper Suit (read my Proper Suit review here) and it surprised me they made the decision to not go down the path of offering MTM shirting. Instead, the founders told me they wanted to branch out away from the customization-only customer and focus this business on guys who just want a well-made shirt that fits them and their budget. 

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From a business perspective, it certainly makes sense (and I say this as someone whose shirt wardrobe stands at 60% MTM), as a majority of guys probably won’t ever be convinced to invest the time, effort and money on MTM. Measure yourself or a well-fitting shirt, waiting for the shirts to arrive and tinkering with measurements on a test shirt does take a certain level of customer enthusiasm — especially if you jump from company to company.

Hall & Madden seeks the customer who doesn’t want to deal with retailer dressing rooms or having to even make a decision on what color or pattern to purchase. Instead, you get a basic box with three shirts inside every few months. 

The box I received had one white herringbone shirt with a cutaway collar, a blue twill with a spread collar and a grey with white pinstripe shirt with a button-down collar — two shirts that can be worn with suits and one that’s more casual for under sweaters or with sport jackets. 

In terms of construction quality, Hall & Madden shirts are the best I’ve seen on from any ready-to-wear company at this price point. I don’t know of any other shirt you can buy for $50 that has these features. 

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Seams are single-needle stitched on the shirt, versus the less-desirable double-needle stitching. I can only think of two other companies that single-needle stitch their shirts that come close to the same price. Lands’ End does it for a few of their shirts (not sure about all of them), but their fit isn’t as good or trim. Brooks Brothers does it, but only on their U.S.-made OCBDs — their foreign-made shirts (which are the majority of style they sell) are all double-needle. 

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Another detail on the side seams of the shirt that’s worth pointing out are the gusseted ends. Gussets are a piece of fabric sewn on to help prevent seams from tearing or coming apart at the end. I don’t own any other shirts that have this detail — off-the-rack or made-to-measure. Frankly, I’m kind of peeved that this isn’t standard on most of the MTM shirtmakers I’ve used. 

For buttons, Hall & Madden uses only thick, mother-of-pearl buttons that feel and look substantial. This is another area that shirtmakers sometimes skimp on (or in the case of MTM, you pay extra for), but it’s standard in this case. In terms of fabric, they use 2-ply, unblended cotton. 

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I feel the need to also point out that some shirts come with contrasting interior fabric on the cuffs and collar. Thankfully, it’s tastefully done (a solid navy with the blue twill, a tattersall check with the white herringbone) and actually compliments instead of clashes with the shirts.  

In terms of fit, Hall & Madden does something clever: they base their three fits off of those from Hugo Boss’ “regular”, “sharp” and “slim” fit shirts. If you own a shirt from Hugo Boss or can get to a store to try one on in the respective fit, then you’ll know exactly how these shirts will fit you (at one-third the price). 

As it so happens, my current tuxedo shirt is from the Hugo Boss “slim” fit line — and it was the only tuxedo shirt that I could find that fit slim. Compared against the Hall & Madden shirts, the fit is identical as far as I can tell — but the Hugo Boss shirt is actually double-needle stitched. 

Hall & Madden darts the back of their shirts, which tapers the torso toward the waist for a slimmer fit. Also, the shirt’s back is unpleated, which also helps give the shirt additional slimness. 

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I also like the collars on the shirts — they’re substantial. They’re not trendy short and skinny like a lot of retailers are offering right now, which have a tendency to give most guys terrible-looking collar gap when worn with a suit jacket. The collars stand up well and fall easily under a jacket’s lapels — even when worn without a tie. 

I’ve been wearing them for a few months now and they’ve held up well through several washings. While I like a good OCBD, I’ve reached for these shirts when I wanted to go tieless, but not quite as casual as a button-down collar. 

For each subsequent box you receive, Hall & Madden tries to include two shirts that will work for wearing at the office — something in blue, something in white, both a bit more conservative — and then a third shirt in a bolder pattern or color — like the purple gingham you see below. 

Overall, Hall & Madden is a great value. If your priority is predictable fit, quality construction and an affordable price, then Hall & Madden comes with a recommendation. 

If you want to give Hall & Madden a try, then they have a special offer for readers here at The Silentist: After you place your order, email support@hallmadden.com to tell them you read the review here and they’ll include a free white linen pocket square to the first 15 subscribers. 

21
Jan

Review: Proper Cloth made-to-measure dress shirt

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"We’ve been working on streamlining our process and now in just two weeks you’ll have a MTM shirt delivered to your door."

That was the bold promise of Proper Cloth, who contacted me about providing a made-to-measure dress shirt for me to review. I found this fascinating and impressive. 

One of the startling things about made-to-measure operations now is the turn-around time. Where traditional bespoke used to take months, made-to-measure now can be done in a matter of weeks — but even a two-week timeline from order placed to arrival at your door is insanely fast. 

Naturally, speed isn’t everything when it comes to custom-made shirting. Fit is still paramount alongside construction quality. But as someone who has tried several other MTM operations before, it’s interesting to see a company focus on shipping logistics, too. 

I went my usual route for measurements at the Proper Cloth site, entering in measurements off my best-fitting shirt, which usually produces the best results. Other methods are available, of course, but I didn’t want to tread in those waters. The shirt-building process is similar to other MTM shirting sites, beginning with you picking your choice of fabric and then entering details for the various elements: collar, cuffs, placket, monogram, etc. 

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Now, I know I’ll get asked about that two-week delivery time, but I feel kind of bad in how I tested it: I placed the order five days before Christmas. Between two holidays and the massive postal rush, the shirt didn’t quite arrive within the timeline — just two days over. Fedex also reported an international shipping clearance delay on the package. So, I’m actually impressed it arrived as fast as it did and I’m sure under normal circumstances that two-week window is accurate. 

Enough about shipping though, let’s get to the shirt. 

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While I usually enjoy wearing blue shirts, I opted to go with a checked shirt with alternating blue and brown lines to be worn with tweed jackets and suits. A bit more casual because of the pattern, but still subtle and not too loud. 

Proper Cloth offers the usual wide range of fabrics ranging from $80 to quite a few in the $150-$200 range from Thomas Mason, Canclini and Albini. I actually went with a $95 cotton broadcloth fabric simply for the design. 

You can choose from 15 different collar types and I picked the “Presidential Spread”, which featured longer collar points, which I’ve begun to prefer for shirts. The collar itself stands quite well and the length fits neatly under the lapels of my jackets, helping to avoid the dreadful collar gap. 

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In terms of other details, I did decide to upgrade the shirt’s buttons to mother of pearl (additional $15) and went with a front placket, given the shirt would be worn with the more casual tweed jacket. 

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Complimenting the placket, I added a pocket and barrel cuffs with a single button. The cuffs do feel softer than other shirts I’ve had in the past. They don’t feel overly stiff after just one washing. There’s also a much-welcome button on the gauntlet, too. 

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It seems like every MTM shirting company has a few surprise details that come standard and impresses me. First, Proper Cloth makes split-back yolks standard on their dress shirts at no extra charge. Complicating matters further, I ordered a patterned shirt, which makes it tougher on the manufacturer to align the pattern along the split seam. I think they did a pretty good job considering the grid pattern is actually more rectangular than square (and, yes, nerds: I know all squares are rectangles). 

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Also worth noting for the first time ever in my MTM shirting experience: gusseted seams. This helps keep the end of the shirt’s hem from coming apart while under stress. No other MTM shirtmaker I’ve used has done this for my shirts and it’s nice to see that Proper Cloth makes it standard operating procedure on theirs. 

I should also add that Proper Cloth uses single-needle construction on their seams, which also adds durability. It’s nice to see them not cheapening out on construction and details that I’m sure add time and cost to their manufacturing. 

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To be a bit obnoxious, I did add a monogram ($10 fee) to see what it would look like. For placement, I chose the pocket — but you can also pick the right or left cuff. You can pick you thread color and script type.  

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After wearing the shirt a few times and putting it in a wash, I’ve been satisfied with the fit and it wears as nicely as other MTM shirts in my wardrobe. After comparing the shirt’s measurements to what I inputed, it’s pretty darn close after a wash (cold water, hang dry). 

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I’ve learned after enough MTM shirts gone wrong to give yourself enough room for movement — bending elbows, raising arms, sitting down, bending over, etc. — and not to attempt the ultra-slim “fitted” look for all practical purposes. Slightly longer and wider sleeves let you bend your arms under a jacket and keep the cuff showing still. A bit more room in the torso helps forgive a week-long bender of beer and fried food. My idea of “fit” now is more practical than it was a few years ago. 

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And the shirt works well with my ideal ensemble of a donegal brown tweed jacket, navy wool tie and cream square. 

If you’re considering Proper Cloth, then give them a try — especially if you already have a well-fitting shirt you can base your measurements off. In case the shirt doesn’t fit you, their customer service is pretty top notch and they’ll work to get your fit right. 

The construction details included in their shirts are a definite advantage and you can likely find a shirt within your MTM budget. They do have a much more vibrant set of casual fabrics (plaids and checks) that are worth checking out if that’s more your speed. For those looking for something to fit in their conservative business dress wardrobe, they have those as well. 

For the price of the shirt and the quality received, I’d say that Proper Cloth exceeds other MTM shirtmakers I’ve used in the past and I can give them a recommendation. 

07
Dec

It’s on sale: Brooks Brothers OCBD — Get ‘em solid, get ‘em striped. My favorite off-the-rack staple dress shirt is on sale (today only!) and I’ll never-not mention it.

It’s 30% off right now ($56 versus the usual $80). Made in the U.S.A., 100% cotton, single-needle stitched seams and I literally wear one every day (unless it’s the summer). 

If you’re wondering about Brooks Brothers extra-slim fit OCBD sizing, I’ve got you covered. And if you haven’t read it, I put the shirt in my investment pieces series, too.

21
Nov

Review: Hucklebury shirts (and giveaway)

While there’s been a plethora of made-to-measure shirting companies, I’ve noticed now that there’s a growing number of ready-to-wear shirting companies also popping up looking to find a balance between a better fit for customers who aren’t necessarily looking for the overwhelming options and choices that come with MTM online (or the hassle of measuring oneself or well-fitting shirt). 

One of these is Hucklebury, founded by Parag and Dhawal, that seeks to find a balance on these several factors. 

In terms of fabric, Hucklebury sources their fabrics from the Italian mills Thomas Mason and Tessitura Monti. The shirt sent to me for review I found is a 2-ply cotton poplin, which is a bit nicer for warmer weather as its a bit lighter. After a wash, the fabric held its dimensions well and I didn’t notice any shrinkage, which is nice.

For construction and design, Parag told me that they went through at least 25 to 30 variations on the pattern before finally settling on the two fits available (slim and regular) and that the shirts are made alongside shirts manufactured for brands like Zegna and Armani.

An interesting design choice includes adding a reinforced stitching on the bottom horizontal buttonhole with thicker thread to combat against the stress of pulling at the waistline and prevent stretching. 

On the collar, Hucklebury opted to have their collars sewn by hand, from the outside in, to help it stand up higher and not fall under the lapels of a jacket. The collar itself isn’t super skinny and puny, either. It’s of average size and the button-down collar works nicely sans necktie.

The backs of the shirt are darted, which I know can be kind of controversial among guys. My tailor refuses to do darts on shirts, however, I own several darted shirts and they do help add a slimmer profile that many trimmer and athletic gentlemen will appreciate. 

But it all comes down to fit — and I’m pleased with it. The chest, shoulders and waistline fit really well. Not too constrictive, nor too baggy for my tastes. 

Hucklebury sizes by neck, however, they don’t size by sleeve length. I tend to have longer arms (typically, I am a 15/35) so the shirt fell a bit short on my arms. If you’ve got shorter arms though, then it should be OK. 

The back darting does help taper the torso dramatically so you avoid the “puff” at the waistline when you tuck in your shirt. I feel this is among one of the more important points of fit from a visual standpoint — provided you’re wearing a properly sized collar and sleeve, too. 

Overall, I can appreciate what Hucklebury attempts to do for ready-to-wear shirts by going with higher-end fabric mills and bringing attention to a few key details. Their prices aren’t out of line — ranging from $85-$95 — considering the fabrics used and worth consideration.

Giveaway contest: Hucklebury is holding a contest, which you can enter below. 

Enter to win one Thomas Light Blue Stripes dress shirt (worth $95) size 15.

Winners will be announced on November 26.

The more entries you make, the greater your points, the greater your chance to win:

  • Answer a simple question: 5 points
  • Like Hucklebury on Facebook: 4 points
  • Tweet about the giveaway: 2 points (You can tweet once per day)

For U.S. residents only.

Click here to enter the giveaway!

13
Nov

Review: Cottonwork made-to-measure dress shirts

Recommending a made-to-measure shirtmaker comes with a lot of caveats, which makes them tough to review. Fit is, of course, paramount, but once you’ve got a well-fitting shirt in your wardrobe, you can take your measurements from the shirt nearly anywhere. 

Provided you’ve got a shirt you’re happy with in terms of fit, then you can look for a shirtmaker who has the fabrics and options you want in a shirt. CottonWork has these in spades and the shirt they allowed me to make for a review has the characteristics I’d encourage anyone to look for in their MTM shirting. 

Let’s start at the beginning. If you have a well-fitting shirt, then you can simple take measurements off that shirt and input them at CottonWork. This is my recommended method. And if you don’t have a tape measure, CottonWork will give you a free starter kit that has a tape measure and several fabric swatches. 

From that point forward, it’s a fairly standard process that those of you who’ve done MTM shirting online will recognize. You pick you fabric and use a shirt builder that gives you a live preview of your order’s details. 

On the topic of fabric, CottonWork offers a wide variety, starting at $45 for cotton-blends to fabrics from renowned mills Thomas Mason and Tessitura Monti that range north of $200. For those wondering if there’s a discernible difference for a high end fabric, I’d argue that there is after receiving my shirt made from a Thomas Mason oxford cloth. There’s a refinement to the fabric and a softness that’s unlike what I’ve seen elsewhere. 

While I kept it fairly predictable in terms of fabric choice — as many of you know, solid blue is often my preference — I decided to make some slight straying choices from what I typically prefer. Instead of my preference for a placket front, I went with a French front and also pocket-less, too, as I intended for this to be worn with suits in a slightly more formal look.

For the shirt’s collar, I went with a spread collar and I really love how soft the collar is around the neck. It’s not stiff and doesn’t feel like cardboard’s inside like some shirt collars. You’ll also notice the buttons on the shirt are mother-of-pearl, which is a nice touch that’s often an option you have to pay extra for at most MTM shirting places, but not CottonWork.

The collar has a decent roll when worn with a necktie. I will admit that while I like that it has removable collar stays, I prefer to not wear collar stays to make the collar a bit more soft in appearance. Well-made collars and a necktie should work just fine most of the time to keep things upright. This collar might very well be the most comfortable shirt collar I’ve had outside of my Brooks Brothers OCBDs. 

In terms of construction, it’s worth pointing out that all CottonWork shirts are single-needle stitched with 22 stitches per inch. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to count stitches in an inch, but it’s a pain in the ass. And, yes, I did count them on my shirt and their claim holds up, in case you were wondering. 

CottonWork also offers an optional split-back yoke. Several other MTM operations require you pay extra for this, but it’s a free option at CottonWork. If you’re not familiar with split-back yokes, the reason for this preference is one of better fit across the shoulder. With the fabric at a diagonal in a split yoke, it stretches better when you move your arms out, but it’s also more expensive for the shirtmaker to produce. (You can read more about split-back yokes here.)

For cuffs, I went with what CottonWorks described as a Neapolitan cuff. I wasn’t sure if I’d like the style as it’s a bit flashy, but worn under a jacket it’s less obvious. Cuff construction is a bit more substantial than the collar and the sleeve features a gauntlet button, too. 

Of course, monogramming is available. I opted for the collar, so it would be hidden, but you can opt for the chest, cuffs or placket, too. I don’t typically wear monogrammed items, but I figured it’d be worth showing those reading this review what it looks like. If you don’t like scripted fonts, you should know they have two other scripted fonts and a sans-serif block font available. 

In terms of fit, I’m pleased with it after a wash and iron. I wore the shirt out on Friday evening and didn’t find any issues in regards to fit with it. My latest MTM shirts have been slightly fuller in the upper torso to allow for movement, but I’ve had them aggressively taper at the waist. While I don’t typically like to wear a dress shirt sans a jacket, this does help balance comfort against “puffy shirt waist” syndrome.

Because I used measurements off another MTM shirt I’d gotten after visiting a tailor in person, a lot of the finer measurement problems had been worked out after a few trials and adjustments. CottonWork did a good job of replicating the shirts I had already in my wardrobe. 

If you’re concerned about getting an ill-fitting shirt, then let me recommend you go with one of their $45 fabrics first to see how it fits as a test shirt. I’ve often found it takes several trials before dialing in your fit on a MTM shirt — especially if you’re basing measurements off your body instead of a well-fitting shirt. Alternatively, you can send in your best fitting shirt for CottonWork to replicate, too.

So, if you’re looking for a MTM shirtmaker that does quality construction, can easily replicate the fit of your best shirt and give you a wide breadth of optional details, then check out CottonWork. To date, they’ve been the most impressive online-only MTM experience I’ve had and have matched the in-person MTM shirtmakers I’ve used in the past with their quality of work. 

01
Nov

Everlane introduces cashmere sweaters and OCBDs — Everlane has introduced two types of cashmere sweaters today, in both v-neck and crewneck in navy, charcoal, grey and black colors. For $120, this might be a really good deal if their past products are any indication (I have a few T-shirts and their tote bag and was fairly impressed). 

They also introduced three OCDBs at $55 each. Not a bad price, either. 

If you’re not an Everlane member, feel free to use my invite here

18
Oct

Sizing info on the Brooks Brothers Extra-Slim Fit OCBD

I’ve had a few questions recently asking me about the Brooks Brothers Extra-Slim Fit OCBD (and quite a bit of Google search traffic on the topic), so I thought I’d write a brief sizing guide for everyone. 

For context, I measure in at a 15” neck and 35” sleeve. This, however, is not the size I am in the Brooks Brothers Extra-Slim Fit OCBDs. In fact, I’m not the same size in all the different colors and styles (i.e.: “university stripes”) of the dress shirt, either. 

The Brooks Brothers Extra-Slim Fit OCBD’s various fabric types all shrink differently and they manufacture different sleeve lengths to account for this. It took several returns and trials to figure out which fabrics would shrink and by how much. 

I’m hoping to save you that trouble. Here’s what size shirt I buy in what fabric as a 15/35:

  • White: 15.5/35 (I should’ve sized up to 15.5/36)
  • Blue: 15.5/35
  • Pink: 15.5/34
  • Ecru: 15.5/34
  • Red/Blue Striped: 15.5/34 

Please note: I haven’t bought or tried the “yellow” OCBD (I’m half Asian and yellow looks terrible on me).

All these are for the Supima cotton, must-iron, made-in-the-U.S.A. OCBDs. This doesn’t apply to other shirts from Brooks Brothers, especially their non-iron shirts (for those, I’d suggest going true-to-size in neck and sleeve).

You’ll notice that I sized up 0.5” in the neck on all OCBDs. The cotton does shrink quite a bit on all these shirts, especially after several washes. 

Some sleeves seem really long when you first get them, some are overly long for their size (hence why I sized down 1” on some). The only shirt I’d maybe consider sizing up on would be the white OCBD — that fabric shrinks the most of any of them. 

I would also note that after washing them a few times, I’ve had my shirts actually tapered in the chest and arms, too, to get rid of the billowing around the waist. A few things contribute to this, but it’s mainly the center-back pleat. Your local tailor should be able to alter them for $25 or less a shirt (which should encourage you to buy them on sale). 

I was also asked if these shirts shrink too much from washing. In my experience, this hasn’t been the case, especially in the torso area (hence the alteration in the torso and arms). Brooks Brothers has a pretty great return policy, and you can even return items after you’ve washed them (I’ve done it in-person at a store). 

My typical washing routine is cold water and then I put them in the dryer for 10-15 minutes, just to accelerate drying. You should (and probably should) do hang-dry only, but I find that a quick stint in the beginning with a dryer helps shrink the fabric properly and makes the fabric softer. 

Finally, here’s the measurements (laid flat) on an unaltered 15.5/35 white OCBD that’s been washed multiple times, for your reference:

  • Pit-to-Pit: 21”
  • Waist: 19.5”
  • Back of collar to hem: 29.75”
  • Yolk: 17”
  • Shoulder to Shoulder: 17.25”
  • Top of shoulder to end of cuff: 25.25”
  • Center back to end of cuff: 34.25” 

13
Aug

Investment Pieces: Brooks Brothers white OCBD

It’s hard to find a #menswear “essentials” list that doesn’t include the oxford cloth button-down collar shirt. Everyone tells you to buy one and pretty much every retailer carries some version of this shirt. 

Sure, it’s “classic” and J.F.K. wore one and it’s an Ivy staple. You have guys on forums and blog comments whining about how the collars used to have a much better roll to them decades ago compared to the ones now or how they used to take sandpaper to the collars to wear them down a bit for that “worn in” look. (And don’t even get them started on this “slim fit” business all the kids like!)

It’s easy to read that and laugh. But you have to realize the reason why they talk in such detailed curmudgeonly ways about this particular shirt is because they love it. It’s like meeting someone who is a complete nerd about a particular thing they’re really, really into: they love it so much that they want to tell you all the reasons why so that you’ll understand and love it, too. 

And the OCBD nerds aren’t totally crazy! It’s a fantastic shirt. I particularly like mine from Brooks Brothers in a certain non-trad fit (“extra-slim”, which makes it sound like a diet drink supplement) for a variety of irrational reasons.

Yes, the collar is great. It’s softer than a stiffer collar from most off-the-rack dress shirts. It’s a bit more substantial, too, in its collar point length — not some wimpy tiny collar that’s currently in fashion — that gives it a decent roll. Not the best roll, mind you, that you see in black and white photos of “Take Ivy”, but better than what else is out there in retailers today. 

I also love the shirring of the sleeves where it attaches to the cuff instead of the pleated look a lot of other shirts use. And it’s even more ridiculous that I like this unique detail on the shirt because you can’t even see it when I roll my sleeves up anyway, which I do most of the time when wearing the shirt, but I know it’s there.

I’ll also add that I love the pocket on the shirt. People are adding all sorts of useless crap to their shirts like epaulets, grosgrain trimming or monograms, but I’m a fan of functional things. I know a growing number of people prefer the French front placket and no pocket on shirts, but I can’t stand it. I use my pocket all the time. I put a pen in there, or my glasses when I head outside during the day and wear my prescription sunglasses. I don’t know why anyone would turn down a free pocket on their shirt. 

The shirt’s construction is pretty solid with single-needle stitched seams. It’s also still made right here in the United States (something that unfortunately cannot be said about the majority of Brooks Brothers’ shirts). The best part about the OCBD is that you can wash it, dry it and hang it up. That’s it. No need to worry about ironing it, as it looks great a bit wrinkled and just feels comfortable, which is the most important thing. 

The shirt doesn’t feel terribly stiff when first worn, but it just feels better several washes in. You can throw it on when you’re mildly hungover or just about to head down to the grocery store to buy some cilantro for some tostadas because you’re an idiot who forgot to check the fridge before you went to the store yesterday. 

Of course, it goes well with almost anything. You can wear it untucked with jeans or tucked into chinos with a madras, seersucker or navy wool blazer on top. And while my personal uniform most days consists of the blue OCBD, the white OCBD probably gets a fairly high amount of time covering my torso. I consider it a casual shirt to just wear around the house or on weekends. It’s what I do chores in and take naps in. 

You want that “lived-in” look? Pick up one of these shirts and live in it. There will always be time for you to put on a really dressed-up outfit to get dinner or go somewhere nice or even sit in your office cubicle. People always say that you should dress up for the important moments of your life, but the rest of your life’s more mundane and non-Instagram worthy moments ought to have a place in your wardrobe, too. For me, that’s the Brooks Brothers OCBD.

(“Investment Pieces” is a series about the items in my wardrobe that have gotten the most usage and wear. It’s part review and part paean to the clothes I really would recommend to anybody. These aren’t luxury items or limited in availability — you can get them anywhere at anytime for a fairly reasonable price.)

25
Jul
The shirts — Inspired by thisfit’s photo of his shirts, I decided to photograph and catalog mine. Like him, a great number of them are blue. A vast majority are white or blue. A vast majority are solid colors. About half are button-down collars.
For most of the year, I wear Brooks Brothers OCBDs (extra-slim fit), which I have tapered by a tailor to remove some of the excess fabric from the center-back pleat. I stocked up when they were on sale. I’ll wear the blue ones every day, Monday through Friday, with the more colorful and patterned ones on the weekend. 
In the summer, I switch over to linen shirting. For this, I’ve gone made-to-measure at Spoon Tailor in San Francisco. They’ve been a great investment. 
I keep a few broadcloth dress shirts (in white) around for times that I have to wear a suit. For more casual times, a barrel cuff, placket and pocket. For more formal occasions, French cuffs, French facing, no pocket — I have this style in white linen, too, for summer. I also keep a spare Brooks Brothers white spread collar dress shirt as a backup in case my MTM shirts get a stain and I have to wait to get a replacement. Always be prepared!
I’m of the opinion now that white shirts should be worn with suits, as when you wear a suit it’s most likely for a formal reason — weddings, funerals, job interviews, business meetings, court, etc. Colored shirts and patterned shirts to me don’t seem appropriate in such settings, however, I think you could vary texture of the fabric here instead. 
I’ve also recently picked up two Suit Supply long-sleeve polo shirts. They’re a good substitute for when you decide to go tie-less and are really comfortable. 
There’s also a tuxedo shirt, for when I wear my dinner suit. 
My shirt wardrobe used to be much more colorful, all sorts of stripes and checks, but I reduced it down to a more simplified palette. I don’t believe your shirt should be too “interesting” and stand out dramatically from the rest of what you’re wearing. There ought be harmony and balance. 
There are, of course, exceptions — but they are just that: an exception, not the common practice. Mine would be the red gingham button-down collared shirt. I wear it now sans coat and with dark denim on very casual days most of the time. I feel it fits best in this context. 
But most of the time: blue or white shirts. 

The shirts — Inspired by thisfit’s photo of his shirts, I decided to photograph and catalog mine. Like him, a great number of them are blue. A vast majority are white or blue. A vast majority are solid colors. About half are button-down collars.

For most of the year, I wear Brooks Brothers OCBDs (extra-slim fit), which I have tapered by a tailor to remove some of the excess fabric from the center-back pleat. I stocked up when they were on sale. I’ll wear the blue ones every day, Monday through Friday, with the more colorful and patterned ones on the weekend. 

In the summer, I switch over to linen shirting. For this, I’ve gone made-to-measure at Spoon Tailor in San Francisco. They’ve been a great investment. 

I keep a few broadcloth dress shirts (in white) around for times that I have to wear a suit. For more casual times, a barrel cuff, placket and pocket. For more formal occasions, French cuffs, French facing, no pocket — I have this style in white linen, too, for summer. I also keep a spare Brooks Brothers white spread collar dress shirt as a backup in case my MTM shirts get a stain and I have to wait to get a replacement. Always be prepared!

I’m of the opinion now that white shirts should be worn with suits, as when you wear a suit it’s most likely for a formal reason — weddings, funerals, job interviews, business meetings, court, etc. Colored shirts and patterned shirts to me don’t seem appropriate in such settings, however, I think you could vary texture of the fabric here instead. 

I’ve also recently picked up two Suit Supply long-sleeve polo shirts. They’re a good substitute for when you decide to go tie-less and are really comfortable. 

There’s also a tuxedo shirt, for when I wear my dinner suit. 

My shirt wardrobe used to be much more colorful, all sorts of stripes and checks, but I reduced it down to a more simplified palette. I don’t believe your shirt should be too “interesting” and stand out dramatically from the rest of what you’re wearing. There ought be harmony and balance. 

There are, of course, exceptions — but they are just that: an exception, not the common practice. Mine would be the red gingham button-down collared shirt. I wear it now sans coat and with dark denim on very casual days most of the time. I feel it fits best in this context. 

But most of the time: blue or white shirts. 

05
Jul

From Squalor to Baller: Made-to-Measure Shirt Reviews: Ratio, CottonWork, Proper Cloth

Ian, aka fromsqualortoballer, wrote up his experience with three online MTM shirtmakers. Worth reading if you’re thinking about using these services. 

My personal recommendation is MyTailor.com, because their tailor, Joe Hemrajani, travels to measure you in person. Otherwise, I recommend finding a local shirtmaker where you go do multiple fittings until you’ve nailed it down (if you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, I recommend Spoon Tailor).

I also highly encourage you to stick with a MTM shirtmaker after you’ve honed in on the fit — it will likely take several shirts to get the fit perfect if you’re just measuring yourself or off a well-fitting shirt. I’ve made the mistake of hopping around and ended up just having to start all over at step zero, which is a frustrating waste of money. 

It’s worth considering that your first, well-fitting shirt will cost you $200 (+/-$50 to $75) just because it’ll take that many trials to get the fit correct. Also, just because you enter the same measurements from one shirt into another form, that doesn’t mean each shirtmaker will interpret it the same way. 

Of course, all of this isn’t even taking into consideration that you don’t know the quality of the cloth being used or the quality of construction until you receive (and pay) for the final product. 

For all of these reasons, I really am hesitant to push people into online MTM shirting. Once you get it right, it’s great. But the process of getting there is highly time consuming, frustrating and pricey. While a lot of these companies try to make it easy as possible, it’s far from flawless and no panacea. 

04
Jul

It’s on sale: Linen-cotton shirts from Lands End Canvas — While not 100% linen, these will probably wear cooler than most pure-cotton shirts and they’re cheap enough at $19.99 on sale (free shipping with an order of $50 or more with promo code FIREWORKS and PIN 7404). 

18
Jun

It’s on sale: Brooks Brothers OCBDs — The semi-annual sale is going on now at Brooks Brothers, discounts go up to 40% — mostly on seasonal merchandise. I’d advise on stocking up on basics, however, like the OCBD, which comes to $48 shirt when you buy four. 

You could buy one of each color (pink, white, ecru and blue) or you could just buy four of the same color like I did. 

18
Jun

It’s on sale: Polka-dot shirts at Mr Porter — I’m not going to pretend these are staples, but if you were after this trend piece, they’re now approaching a more reasonable pricepoint:

02
May

acutestyle:

Emmett of London - The Mathematician, Slim Fit Linen Shirt

Are those polka dots?  No.  They’re numbers!  I’ve never bought a $200 shirt before, but God help me.  Give me strength. 

TREAT YO SELF.

About The Silentist

A menswear blog on finding your personal style, written by Kiyoshi Martinez.

I work at Khaki's of Carmel and live in the Monterey Bay area. Formerly from Chicago.

E-mail me, I'm fairly nice: thesilentist@gmail.com

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