There is such a big difference between the way a custom-made dress shirt looks and holds up when compared to mainstream brands. Obviously, you pay a premium for custom-made dress shirts, but because they are custom-made for you, they fit properly. Plus, no corners are cut. For instance, many mass-manufactured dress shirts use adhesive around the seams of the pockets, collar, and cuffs, and because the adhesive weakens over time, the shirt simply won’t last as long or look as crisp as a custom-made dress shirt.
So, you are in the market for some custom-made dress shirts, but what do you look for? Below are the areas to focus on as you shop for your perfect shirt…and shirt maker.
Collar – A quality collar will be properly proportioned, with straight and clean stitching along the edges, and include removable collar stays.
Buttons and Button Holes – There are several things to check here. First, buttons come in a variety of sizes and styles; however, if “Mother of Pearl” buttons are on the shirt, that indicates quality. Whatever button is used, make sure buttons are firmly attached to the shirt, using the X method of sewing. In addition, buttons that are shanked also indicate a certain level of detail. Shanking is when another thread is wrapped around the threads that hold the button to the shirt, causing the buttons to stand out a bit. But more than the button itself, high-quality dress shirts have cleanly finished button holes with no signs of fraying. Check for a small button at the sleeve placket, the area of the sleeve that opens when the cuff is unbuttoned. This button is import because it prevents the sleeve from hanging open. Finally, a high-quality dress shirt will come with spare buttons attached to the shirt.
Stitching – Overall, the stitching should be straight or smoothly follow the curves of the shirt with at least 18 stitches per inch. Single needle side seam stitching along the sides of the shirt and the bottom of the sleeves give the shirt a tight seam and a tapered look. Check for reinforcement along the bottom of the side seams to keep the shirt from ripping or tearing. Finally, check the stitching at the cuffs, ensuring they have pointed corners and straight stitches.
Split Yoke – The yoke is the panel of fabric that runs across the shoulders, just behind the collar. A split yoke is where the yoke is made of two different pieces of fabric, and a true split will have two pieces of fabric cut at an angle. When fabric is cut on an angle, it stretches more giving a greater range of motion.
Fabric – While 100% heavy weight premium cotton shirts finish the best, we find that fabric is very much a personal preference. Choose what you like, but know that the quality of the fabric impacts the overall quality of the shirt. If you want a shirt with some sort of pattern, be sure that the pattern matches at the center back of the split yoke, along the front of the shirt, and at the pocket. If the pattern doesn’t match properly, the shirt will look sloppy.
We realize that’s a whole lot of information to take into consideration for one dress shirt, but believe us when we say, you really can see the difference in quality. If you’d like to get started, we are happy to share that many of our customers like these brands – Tom James, Richard Bennett, Charles Trywitt, and Brooks Brothers. Once you purchase a high-quality shirt, keep it in great shape by laundering it regularly. If you’d like to stop by one of our locations to examine a custom-made shirt or to just ask questions, please do. We are happy to help.