Today’s slew of well-priced fashion labels mean you can easily grab a reasonably good quality shirt off the rack without too much hassle. That’s two thumbs up for convenience but some things in life still take more time than just a click-and-buy. A shirt that’s made for you will take one or two weeks to perfect at most shirtmakers, and a well-made, customised shirt says a lot about the person wearing it. Clothes may not “make a man”, but they certainly shape our impressions.
Most people tend to pay less attention to tailored shirts, thinking them easier to make. While it’s less complex in construction, it’s just as broad a topic as suits or shoes. More importantly, a shirt sits right next to your skin. Beyond just initials and patterned cuffs or sleeves, here are a few things you might want to look out for in your next made-to-measure shirt.
1. Choose the right material.
A lot of us tend to focus on aesthetics rather than material type, weave and source. But the ultimate purpose of creating a made-to-measure shirt isn’t just prestige but comfort. This is a clothing item that rests against the largest organ in your body all day long. So rather than just pick out the design you like, start with the material and consider your work environment and purpose. If you’re constantly on the go, a cotton fabric with just a touch of lycra in it will allow the fabric to stretch slightly, for ease of movement. For breathability, cottons or linens are ideal. Different weaves create different textures and shirting fabrics, each with its own benefits and disadvantages.
2. Pay attention to the armholes.
Most people will think a wider armhole helps to avoid the dreaded pit stain and is more comfortable all around when it comes to wear. That’s not precisely true. Similar in suiting, armholes control how freely your arms can move without straining the fabric, so in fact, the closer it follows your body’s shape and form, the more freedom of movement you have. Useful tip: If you’re a heavy sweater, have the tailors sew an extra thin layer around the armpit area to soak up sweat.
3. Consider what accessories you wear.
Do you wear a watch on a regular basis? Is it an oversized, thick case or a svelte, slim one? Or bracelets and the like? Button or French cuffs can often hinder you from wearing them properly because the tailor didn’t give any consideration to such needs. Some shirtmakers such as Van Laack do, and staff will ask which hand you wear your watch on, to account for it. In addition, your shirt buttons are also an accessory. Pick them wisely.
4. Watch the shoulders.
97% of the world’s population have asymmetric figures, meaning your left arm might be slightly bigger or smaller than the right, your back might not be evenly developed. That’s why it’s essential to take separate measurements for various parts of your body but the shoulders are where it’s the most obvious. Off-the-rack shirts tend to treat the body as symmetrical, which is true only for 3% of the population.
5. Pay attention to the collar.
Collar types tend to suit certain body types. Point collars are best for slimmer builds, and medium spreads are for those with thicker traps or a shorter neckline. Wide spread collars are the most formal. When making a shirt, consider its purpose and match the cuffs accordingly. For daily work wear, button cuffs are fine, but they should go with button-down collars.
Don’t forget to check out our video on how to iron a shirt right and quickly. Otherwise spending all that money on a made-to-measure shirt would be a waste.