How to Tell a Quality Shirt from a Cheap Imposter.
When approaching the style question it’s tempting to say you’ve either got it or you haven’t and definitely some people have more innate style than others but style is something that can be developed. More than anything dressing well is a matter of confidence and achieving confidence relies on buying well and knowing, and understanding the rules.
Let’s start with buying well. You should always buy the very best shirt you can afford, nothing will betray you more than a cheap shirt but how do you tell the difference? Here’s what to look out for:
- Material. The key is natural fibre, whether you choose cotton, linen, moleskin or a luxurious cotton/wool mix be sure that the shirt is 100% natural material. Your skin will breathe more easily, it feels better against your skin and it will last much longer.
- No, no, no to poly-this, that and the other. Whatever it promises in terms of easy-iron, easy –dry, or low cost the poly-mix shirt will have been chemically treated, i.e. dipped in formaldehyde. Unless you’re seeking to preserve your collection of Victorian surgical curiosities we do not recommend the use of formaldehyde. It will be sweaty, have a shiny shirt sheen and could cause skin irritation. If you ever feel tempted to buy a poly-something shirt think of Leonard Rossiter as Rigsby in Rising Damp and don’t go there!
- It’s all in the detail. Buy a cheap shirt and chances are the buttons will be wafer thin and snap off like a ticket stub. Buy a quality shirt and the buttons will be strong enough to endure the early morning fingers and thumbs haste of the pre-work morning routine.
- Tailoring detail is critical. On a good shirt the pattern on the front and back panels will be aligned at the seams, on a cheap shirt pattern matching can be a bit of a dog’s dinner. The seams should be strong and tight. Check the collar points, it’s hard to hide shoddy tailoring here, the stitching should be even and tight.
- A high quality shirt should always have collar stays to maintain the collar shape and prevent the collar points curling. The collar stays should be removed for washing and ironing. If you iron a shirt with the stays in, the collar will develop shiny marks at the points.
And lastly make sure you’re shirt fits well. At A Hume our collar sizes start at 15” and go up to 20” in some styles, we also stock longer lengths and only ever shirts of the highest quality from Grosvenor, Cleeve, Seidensticker, Gant, RM Williams and Viyella.
Next we’ll look at more at the style rules and how to mix spots and stripes to great effect.