It’s hard to peg the most important item in a man’s wardrobe to just one item. If I was pushed however, I would have to say that it’s a man’s dress shirt. The dress shirt is the most versatile article of clothing that you’ll ever own. From a suit to a pair of distressed jeans, a great fitting, quality dress shirt, works with everything. No matter what your personal style or body type is, a proper fitting dress shirt will always look good.
It is said that a great shirt is what makes a suit look great. It’s the part of your ensemble that sits closest to your body so it needs to be both comfortable and fitted. My body shape is a little messed up. I’m a big guy and find that the majority of the off-the-rack 18″ neck (XL/XXL) dress shirts fit fine on the neck, but flare out like tents below. This means that I either need to go down a size to 17″, which won’t button up all the way, or get an 18″ shirt altered so that the fabric doesn’t balloon out at the waist. The latter doesn’t always come out that great.
The answer? The made-to-measure (a.k.a. bespoke, custom, tailored) dress shirt. I have owned around seven bespoke shirts and two bespoke suits and can tell you that the most important factors when purchasing a bespoke piece is the quality and the fit. With respect to quality, you want a dress shirt that is 100% cotton, or a blend that comes as close to 100% cotton as possible. Why cotton? Cotton is comfortable, breathable, absorbent and static-resistant. Sound construction is another important aspect of quality. When it comes to fit, the key characteristics are the neck width, sleeve length, and cut (classic, tailored, trim). I’ve typically paid $250/shirt or more to have them made locally. Not cheap.
It’s All Style To Me is going to be working hard for you investigating shirts from a few of the more affordable online made-to-measure websites. Registered in Switzerland, with their office based out of Barcelona Tailor4Less.com offers made-to-measure shirts at $55/shirt. Quite the steal, but are they any good? I set up an account on www.tailor4less.com and found their website extremely easy to navigate (see screen captures below). As with traditional bricks-and-mortar tailors, I had the option to select the collars, fit, cuff and placket style I wanted. There was even an option to have the shirt-cuffs and collars lined with different material, contrast button hole stitching, and embroidered monograms – all at an extra charge of course. They have 78 fashionable fabric patterns/colours to choose from in either one-ply 50 or two-ply 80 cotton. You’ll need a tailor’s measuring tape and a friend to help take your measurements, then enter them into their system. Measure twice guys! Throughout the online process, there is a “Buy today and receive it on…” at the top of the screen. This way you know when to expect your shirt (or suit) before your order is put through. Great idea.
Once ordered, Tailor4Less dress shirts typically take two weeks to arrive. I’m pretty sure that my dress shirt arrived in less time though. Although the one-ply 50 fabric was not quite as thick or rugged as my local bespoke shirts, the fabric was comparable to a Calvin Klein shirt that I own. I actually prefer my dress shirts a little thinner because that way I stay cool in the summer and can layer them with a three-piece suit or cardigan in the winter. I examined the shirt inside and out and can tell you that the construction was 100% identical to the $250 shirts that I have had made here in Toronto. The fit was just as good too.
Some of the issues with the shirt included the collar stays, which are fine, but actually embedded into the collar. I would have preferred slots where I could remove the stays and insert a collar pin on occasion. They might also want to source new buttons. The one’s they are using look a little weak as I’ve noticed some chipping on the sleeves after a single wash. Finally, a tag with washing instructions and fabric info is probably not typical for bespoke shirts, but wouldn’t hurt. My shirt arrived impeccably packaged, but lacked a catalogue or brochure inside the packaging, which would help with up-selling some of the other products they carry. When shipping and duties were accounted for, the shirt was still under $100 (~$80). All-in-all a great deal and I recommend you check them out!
Follow the link to read the original post: http://itsallstyletome.com/2011/05/04/dress-shirt-review-giveaway-custom-shirts-by-tailor4less/