Menswear Highs and Lows Part 2 - Button down shirts
As a follow up to last week’s post on shoes, this week wanted to share some thoughts on men’s shirts. There are a ton of options out there, and “variety is the spice of life” so they say, but how do you know what is worth spending your hard earned cash on? Fall and winter present even more enticing options for layers and handsome ways to keep warm. There are a lot of great products out there, and a plethora of different opinions and perspectives, so keep in mind, these are just my humble thoughts on what to spend money on, and what is not worth the splurge…
Button downs - formal/dress shirts
So I may take a lot of flack here, but my experience is based on my all too extensive wardrobe of dress shirts ranging from $12 - $145 per shirt. I wear a shirt and tie every day, and very much enjoy layering sweaters, vests, or sports coats over top that foundation throughout the winter. When it comes to dress shirts, I simply find that it is not worth the money to spend more than $50 on a shirt. There are a lot of nice options out there. Now if you are a real workhorse in those button downs, perhaps you need something that is triple stitched or enjoy a silk blended something or other; however, for me - who only wears the same button down once every couple of weeks - the number one criteria is FIT! If a shirt fits poorly, it doesn’t matter if you spent $500 on it, no one is going to be impressed. However, you can spend $25 on a shirt that fits really well (even custom made to your measurements!) and plenty of people will take notice because nothing is more important than proper fit. There are a million bloggers corroborating that same advice, and Pinterest can provide you with 50 different infographics on exactly what to look for in fit, so I won’t go into the details here.
So what are my go to’s? For off the rack, Charles Tyrwhitt offers specials occasionally at 3 shirts for $100 that are well made and fit nicely, but for my wiry 6’2” 165 lb frame, nothing beats a custom made shirt. (Note that my brothers and friends of all sizes are devout converts as well.) So for as low as $29.95 (plus shipping) you can get a fully custom shirt, with contrast collars of any shape and size, contrast stitching, cuffs, custom colored buttons, monogramed, trimmed and darted however you like - ALL MADE TO MEASURE - how are you going to beat that?!!! Go to www.itailor.com and check it out. Email me or leave a comment for a 10% off coupon on top of that! Over 150 different fabrics and patterns. And, by the way, they do suits, pants, jeans, shoes, overcoats and more! Biggest downside is it takes up to 5 weeks to get your product, although sometimes they are as fast as 3 weeks. The other custom site I like for shirts is www.tailor4less.com, who also offers a variety of products, and although they are a bit more pricey - starting out at 59.95 - they tend to have a little heftier fabric, offer flannels and other season fabrics, and have some more unique fabric patterns. And you get your shirt in 2 weeks!
Casual Shirts - Button down flannels, chamois, casual button downs
There are many good options out there for cheap flannels and button downs. You can find lots of solid options at your local Marshalls, the Merona Line at Target, and Uniqlo have plenty of options for $30 or less. That being said, as of last winter, I got on an “American Made” kick, and fell in love with the idea of supporting American based smaller companies using American sourced products when possible, making notably higher quality goods in modern fits. I got hooked on www.huckberry.com (again contact me if you want refer a friend credit for signing up for a new account) who curate many of these types of comanies and offer high quality goods. They turned me onto the incredible softness of Faherty Brothers Brand shirts, Topo Designs mountain flannels, and San Francisco based Taylor Stitch, who make all sorts of stuff for men and women, but really make a beautiful chamois shirt that is soft, solid, and warm.
These shirts all cost from $75-$125, which is quite large investment when I can easily get 2-3 dress shirts custom made for that price, but hear me out. For my lifestyle, teacher by day, Dad of 3 little ones by night and weekends, I put a premium on shirts that are insanely comfortable, (my children pet my arms and back sometimes because of the double brushed fabrics used to make these shirts like I’m one of their stuff animals) that are super tough 9oz, non pleated, french stitched with unbreakable lock stitched buttons, that can be thrown in the washing machine and will never pill and only get better with every wear… can you tell I’m a fan… and I have a standard rotation of these 3 shirts pretty much every weekend. So I only wear the same dress shirt once every few weeks, but I wear these far more frequently, and under far greater duress with 20 month twins and a 3 year old pulling themselves up my body by my clothes, I go back to my value formula from the first post, price divided by wears per year = well worth the investment! Check out Taylor Stitch’s Yosemite Shirt, Faherty’s Belmar Reversible Workshirt (that’s right reversible - 2x the value!) which is currently at time of posting on sale for more than 50% off, and Topo Designs Plaid Flannel Workshirt - also on sale at time of posting for $40 off regular price.
So take it or leave it, but these are classic looking, well fitting, and great feeling shirts; and for what it’s worth ladies, I don’t know any guy who wouldn’t appreciate one of these cozy casual quality shirts to wear around the holidays, and I dare venture that you too might enjoy snuggling up against one of these on the couch!