It seems like everyone has found the three reviews this week very interesting.

If you don’t mind, I’d also like to hear what you think about three things:

  • The value of aesthetic hand stitching (buttonholes or attaching buttons, which have little functional purpose) – the English and Italians are very different here; 
  • The importance of a well-fitting shirt compared to a jacket, given that if you value your tailoring the shirt will rarely be seen; and 
  • How much you think it is worth spending on shirts compared to suits and shoes – the same as shoes in a yearly budget, for example, or less?
Please comment as per usual in the boxes below, and feel free to add your experiences of any particular shirt makers.

Thanks for your thoughts.
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Anonymous

Hand stitching is pretty pointless I think. I only want practical work and therefore expense.

I’d pay only for MTM shirts I think, until I had a good number of suits and shoes

Anonymous

Anon,

The thing about handstitching is that it’s flexible. Having the sleevehead stitched by hand allows you to have a bigger seam, which greatly reduces the bulk.

If the coollar is properly attached by hand, similarly to a jacket collar, you’d be able to un-button your shirt without it shooting open (a la daffy duck, when he sees an attractive female duck).

Anonymous

I don’t really care that much about hand stitching on shirts. As far as fitting goes, the ones that are too baggy, cut too short, or have arm holes that are too low will tend to come untucked all the time which drives me nuts.

The most important part for me on a shirt is the collar. I will prefer a shirt with a collar that I like vs. one that’s too skimpy every time, no matter the differences in detailing or fabric quality.

I use Geneva shirts in NYC and have been very happy with them. They do unfused collars as their standard, which I like.

sam

Its all in the collar and cuffs to me, which is why I am drawn to Satriano Cinque. Luca’s quote from your article on the Rake “It must fit the face perfectly” resonates heavily with me. The Italians from what I have read and seen get this right with lighter linings in the aforementioned which I presume produces that lovely roll you don’t tend to see in English makers. Its just the traveling that is proving difficult to myself and possibly others as I can see the difference through your words and other sites.
sam.

Antonio

What do you mean about the roll?
Thanks

Antonio

Thanks Simon for clarifying.

Antonio

How long should the collar be though? Do you have reference or if the shirtmaker is good he should know what he’s doing?

Anonymous

Thanks so much!

Andrew Borda

Mina Adamo of Napoli Su Misura makes excellent bespoke shirts. Much like Satriano 5 (they used to be next door neighbors) she strikes the right balance between hand and machine stitching. The fit is excellent, and, best of all, she is extremely flexible in doing custom collars, cuffs, and making any modifications required (free of charge) to make sure that the shirt is just right.

She also does excellent suits, jackets, and trousers.

Anonymous

The quality of the fabric, the fit and the style (collar roll, locker loop, box plete, etc)

claudio

Anonymous

1) aesthetic hand stiching is pointless ..only useful where you need to do certain types of stiches which a machine cant do well.

2) the shirt only has to be well fitting enough to be comfortable, as you say a jacket 9 times out of 10 covers the shirt apart from the cuffs and collar.

3) a shirt is not an item with longevity, as its made of cotton and next to the body it has to be washed every 3 wears or so .. cotton will always shrink no matter what the quality of it so a shirt has a lifespan of a 2/3 years realistically if you have a cupboard of 9/10 shirts which is what non clothing obsessives probably keep. On this basis to spend £200-300 is not good value for most people on a shirt. On tailoring there is far more value as the jacket at least isnt next to the skin (trousers are though), whilst wool doesnt need to be washed frequently because of its properties, therefore a suit in my experience lasts until you grow out of it (bespoke until the tailor tells you there isnt enough inlay to expand anymore!)

so i think to spend a lot of money on a shirt isnt prudent, a very ‘tailored’ shirt which is more body hugging is going to suffer from looking too tight around the body with shrinkage sooner and is therefore even more imprudent. then again if you have vast resources and money isnt an object then i can understand people going down this route.

Andy

S

Andy, one thing you mention made me raise an eye brow: you only wash your shirts after 3 wears? I classify shirts as underwear when it comes to washing frequency and thus was my shirts after every wear.

Is that not the common approach? Simon how often do you wash your shirts?

Thanks,
S

R

Indeed. What kind of nutter wears a shirt three times!

Even a shirt worn during the day, ideally shouldn’t be worn the same evening.

Unknown

I really appreciate the handwork (I’m Italian) especially concerning the buttonholes seen that they are the easiest detail that can be spotted on a shirt; the other hand processing I think is just a personal way of spoiling yourself (you know it’s there and makes you feel good).

I find, personally, the fitting the crucial point of having a MTM/bespoke shirt therefore I consider this aspect as a priority compared to hand stitching.

Being Italian I have to say that I can find bespoke shirts for as low as 70-80€ (all machine stitching) and 150-180 with a great amount of hand stitching and desirable cloth.

Ruggero

Eugene Freedman

I have done MTM in NYC and HK through a traveling tailor and have been happy with both, although HK was significantly less expensive, so I have continued with that product. Neither had any handwork that was apparent, but I couldn’t imagine paying much more on a regular basis without significantly functional improvement. Front/back balance is the only issue I’ve been concerned with at all.

If the shoulders and arm length are spot on, I care less about a perfectly fit body for my shirts than I do jackets. I like a little more drape in my shirts. I know there is a fashion toward the pinned back look in shirts, but that’s definitely not my preference for wearing shirts daily.

With ties as a base of 1- here the ratios I use for other purchases:
Suits 10-12:1; Shoes 5-7:1; Shirts 2:1.

I think these ratios work regardless of personal price point.

Anonymous

After doing a quick calc on my own stuff, I seem to have the Same ratios.

And I absolutely prefer Italian makers for all The reasons named by Simon et al.

Eugene Freedman

Simon – perhaps there was a miscommunication. I was conveying 5 to 7 times the tie price for shoes. That would be 500-700 quid on a 100 pound tie basis- right in line with what you were suggesting. I’m in dollars and my basis is ~$85US per tie. Drakes on sale and Sam Hober custom, so about half of the 100 pound value.

Anonymous

1. Aesthetic hand work: I see no much value compared to the price difference
2. Importance of fit: High. The shirt should fit well without being loose (to avoid bunching under jackets which I rarely take off) and allow good movement without restriction while driving, for example.
3. Expense ratio: Currently 7:1:6 for each suit:shirt:pair of shoes. Suits and shirts are made bespoke in the Middle East where I live and where material price is the same as London or Naples but overheads including labour is cheaper. Shirts are more in number than suits or shoes. Shoes are high end (non-designer) ready to wear as the travel and accommodation costs for multiple bespoke footwear fittings is not economical for me.

Anonymous

I find machine made button holes much uglier than hand sewn ones, but in every other respect I prefer a shirt to be machine stitched.

I actually think if done properly, by which I mean tightly, at around 20 stitches per inch,machine sewing looks better than anything done by hand, and, of course, it is likely to be stronger.

I really dislike hand stitching that goes over the top of a seam already sewn by machine. This is common among many of the better Italian makers and strikes me as grossly inauthentic.

The trouble with the English bespoke makers I have tried is that their machine stitching is messy and appears to have been done in a hurry.

I have come to believe that getting the collar right on a shirt is far more important than fussing too much about fit. A shirt that appears to fit well in a static photograph will be uncomfortable to wear.

I think shirt fit is one area of men’s clothing that has changed over the decades. In the 1930’s a decent shirt maker would have cut a far fuller shirt than would be considered acceptable by most customers today. It was once considered an item of underwear, after all.

The trouble with shirts is that they are a disposable item in the way a suit or pair of shoes isn’t. This makes me far more likely to make compromises on shirts in a way that I wouldn’t with other clothing. A shirt, if worn regularly, is never going to last twenty years, which makes the idea of paying several hundred pounds for one impossible.

Anonymous

Interesting explanation of the reasoning behind having a hand stitch over the top of a machine stitch, I didn’t realise that.

Also, noticed your remark about being largely content with £700 rtw shoes. I’m the opposite, finding myself completely unimpressed with rtw shoes having worn bespoke for several years. Yet, with shirts I can find satisfactory stuff between £60-£100 and see no reason to invest vastly more for marginal differences.

I’ve noticed many men who spend a lot on other sorts of bespoke clothing seem indifferent to the appeal of bespoke shoes, even after having tried them. I think this would be an interesting topic for a future piece/discussion.

Scotto

Simon,

To your point regarding shirts as outerwear on display, I spend much more on shirts I wear casually than shirts for the office. For work, only the pattern, cuff and collar matter. I spend more on suits and ties. I still like a slim fit, longer arms, and well-fitting cuffs, but don’t care in the least about the seams, buttons, or button holes.

For casual wear, I’m much more particular because I generally wont be wearing a jacket or tie and the details are visible.

Anonymous

In relation to the three questions you posed:

I think it depends whether you plan to wear the shirt in question with or without a tie. If it will always be worn with a tie, then the aesthetics of a button hole are only a matter for you personally. If you can afford it, then clearly hand-stitched. If you are on a budget, then those are the things I would compromise on.

I think a well-fitting shirt is as important as a well-fitting shirt. My issue with off-the-peg shirts is generally that as I am a little overweight and have a large neck, but am relatively short, there is always too much sleeve length and too much material in the body. For me, having MTM shirts gives me a far more comfortable fit and has been a revelation.

In terms of budget, it really depends where you are in your wardrobe evolution. I got shirts made after I had suits made, so have spent more on shirts than suits in the last 12 months, but not in the last three years… I have spent a lot less on shoes. I now have a good stock of 20 or so MTM shirts, so will cut back on what I spend on them… The benefit I have found with shirts, if you can find someone who will do them one at a time MTM is that you can buy one a month, and it doesnt feel like such a hit as buying a suit…

Matthew Hewitt, London

James Marwood

I don’t have the budget to buy all my shorts of this quality. Almost all of the shirts I buy are off the rack from retailers like Brooks Bros, John Lewis & Austin Reed. I have a few from Thin Red Line, which I like. All of these are adjusted in the sleeve and often the waist.

I have twice bought MTM shirts – once from Choppin & Lodge and once from Russel & Hodge. The experience was not great TBH. The fit on the C&L shirts was quite a bit off, and the R&H is a great fit but took forever to be ready, with several missed dates.

I would be interested in handstitching, but the fit is the most important thing. I am not the slim figure you are Simon, so I find it hard to find shirts that are not too tight in the chest and too blousy around the stomach.

I often work with clients in overheated offices, in shirt sleeves (Normally with a waistcoat), so I think the importance of a well fitting shirt is almost comparable to that of a jacket. For me the key parts of the fitting are the shoulders, collar, cuffs and armholes. The length is very important, I find a lot of shirts are cut too short.

In terms of price, for OTR I pay anything from £30-£80. For a good MTM shirt I would expect to pay in the region of £120-£150, and I’ll probably spend something like £1000 a year on them. However I would need to be confident in the maker.

This budget is about the same of that I would think for shoes, and around ⅙ of that I allow for suits.

Unknown

Hand stiching not that important IMHO (if the machince stiching is done right)

Fit is paramount especially in the collar and cuffs but also coming from a hot country (Cyprus), overall fit is important because late April to early October, wearing a jacket indoors (even with a/c) is next to impossible (outdoors too when the sun is shining but I sweat it out when I can – definately impossible June – August).

Cost wise, I think that anything much over EUR100 is too much for something that has to be changed every couple of years (or less if you are a fan of red sauces…). Still its a matter of relative budget. However I must say I find pretty good MTM offerings around the EUR60-80 mark locally) – a very good option available in the UK as well is Stephan’s Shirts which is EUR60 MTM in Cyprus (I think he charges GBP60 about 20% more for the MTM shirts in London – they’re made here in Cyprus anyway).

Anonymous

My first point as with all my clothes would be the cloth itself. Texture has a great deal of influence on all my choices.
A well fitted shirt is certainly desirable. I had bespoke when I lived in Hong Kong but it is an item of underwear and I am rarely seen in sleeves (except in an overheated office and even then usually in a waistcoat in winter). Therefore it is not a priority. Price becomes much more important.

I dont really get that excited about hand stiched button holes etc. It has no functional advantage that I can see and I also doubt that any one else but the wearer would see them. (If you like those details great spoil yourself and pursue it).

The right collar obviously important.

I have yet to find a shirt maker to use. £250 for a shirt. No thanks too much. I would rather save the pennies for another bespoke suit or pair of bespoke shoes. Both those are items of outerwear and I dont have a millionaires budget. If I could find a machine stitched bespoke for under £100 yes I would be interested. I will keep looking and hoping.

Mark

Arthur & Henry

We’ve loved reading both the posts and the comments. We currently do ready made shirts from organic and fair trade cotton but have had a number of people asking if / when we are going to do bespoke so it’s been really interesting to see what people like / don’t like.

(Hope you don’t think we’re just butting in for shameless promotion – really we’re not, we’re learning all the time. Really just wanted to comment to say thank you.)

Lee Butler

the collar is make or break for me. Seeing a collar that sticks up or curls at the edges drives me nuts.

Anonymous

I don’t see any especial value in hand-stitching, except as a means to the end of obtaining a well-fitting shirt. A good machine-stitched shirt beats a bad hand-stitched shirt, and I’d rather save the money for more expensive purchases (i.e., shoes and suits).

That being said, in these days of shirts and trousers and no suit (even for a lawyer such as myself), a well-fitting shirt is very important. I loathed the ill-fitting and baggy shirts I wore before switching to MTM and bespoke shirts, and count myself well ahead on cost by buying fewer, but better-fitting, shirts. For me, the length of the arm sleeve and blousing around the body are key, although that may be due to the fact that those are the features of RTW shirts that bothered me most and led to my trying MTM.

In terms of yearly spending, I think US$1000-1500 is my usual spend, which allows me to get a range of higher and lower end shirts. The upper end of that range is around what I would spend on suits in a year, as I don’t need to get more than one new suit a year. For shoes, probably $500-1000, depending on whether I buy one or two pairs in a year.

Where do you think trouser purchases should fit into a budget? As I said above, I wear mostly shirts and trousers to work, and lately have been considering trying MTM, rather than buying ill-fitting RTW pants that fit one crucial area but otherwise need significant modification.

Anonymous

I get all my shirts from Alexander Boyd (Rayner and Sturges) but their quality has gone downhill a bit recently. I pay £175 per bespoke shirt and see Clive and Steven who are father and son. They are two of the most nicest, genuine chaps you will ever meet and i know they both don’t make the shirts so i cannot blame them at all (They make the bespoke suits). I blame the shirt factory for lack of quality control. Alexander Boyd has their own shirt factory in Kent but if their quality carries on like this, their shirt factory won’t be around for much longer!!

Jerry

I must say, I have changed over time.

Today, I would say:

1. Fit – and sometimes a good ready to wear can be almost as good as MTM. The issue is that you can never choose the right mix of specifications (collar shape, overall shape, details, …). I would say that the exact fit for me is less critical in a shirt than in a jacket or trousers.

2. Fabric – I work close to Charvet in Paris and buying a few of their shirts (at a crazy EUR 265 for ready to wear) was a revealing experience on the fabric front. I did not like the fit though – too large in the shoulders. Going MTM or bespoke with them is a bit extreme (circ EUR 400 to 550).

3. Detail work – handmade buttonholes are nice. I have a few Borelli’s that are mostly handmade (not all of them are like this) and I must say that a few times I had to use a needle to fix a few stitches but this is nice to know that someone did it by hand.

4. Price. I initially thought that I had to spend a lot of money on shirts (> EUR 250) to get something acceptable. I now find Borelli or Finamore shirts on American websites for circ USD 150 – which is quite cheap to Paris standards. The bespoke offer in Paris is still ok with Charvet (expensive), Lucas and Courtot … and a few others. Otherwise, I go ready to wear to Breuer on Rue de la Paix – they are not made in Italy anymore but the fit is very good for me, the fabrics are nice and prices are reasonable (EUR 120 to 150).

Anonymous

Just a correction, I think you meant Lucca.

As for myself, I bought a lot of expensive RTW shirts till I realized I could get better fitting bespoke at a slightly increased price (> 250€). I should have known earlier.

I also happen to have the exact same order of criteria. And I would say the only thing preventing me from buying only bespoke is that my dry-cleaner has messed up too many of my shirts, and I kind of feeling broken-hearted every time.

Anonymous

Tough question. I find fit, collar shape and collar and cuff softness to be tied for most important. Handwork and cloth are secondarily important, but still not something I’d like to compromise on. However, I just want (believe I have found) the most affordable option that ticks all those boxes. I buy my shirting cloth separately, which breaks up the cost and saves me about $25 per shirt as well.

-John

Alec

Hi Simon,

1)I tend to prefer machine stitched vs. hand stitched. I prefer the English/French look to the Napoli look.

2) Fit is extremely important. For one, it contributes to the way the jacket fits. Additionally, I tend to take my jacket off for hours during a day. My shirt fit is as important as my jacket fit. Collar fit and shape is another important factor that should vary from person to person, increasing the value of a true bespoke shirt.

3) I tend to spend 10-15% per shirt of what I spend on a suit. A good quality shirt can last years, and certain shirtmakers can replace collars to extend longevity of a shirt.

Anonymous

– stitching details are nice to have but I try to focus on fit foremost

– fit is a must; collar, waist, and the sleeve since I have odd specs. majority of shirts are MTM, a few OTR and will try Bespoke in the near future. Since I seldom wear ties, collar construction is premium. Collar roll baby!

– I may skimp on shirt, but not on suit/odd jacket and shoes

Keep going Simon, luv your writeups

Frank

I have only tried one bespoke shirtmaker. He’s situated in Sackville Street. I had tried MTM before, but that resulted in too short and tight fitting shirts for a lean person like me. However I only found that out when I got my first bespoke shirts. While the bespoke shirts do fit me very well, there have been issues with almost every 2nd shirt. Rather minor issues like a wrong collar etc. and I get apologies every time, but it is still irritating and now I am wondering if I should try another shirtmaker. Well, now to your questions

1) Hand stitching on shirts is of no importance to me.
2) If you wear a bespoke jacket, then the shirt should “talk” to it, e.g. correspond to it as far as collar width and arm length is concerned. I only found the right fit & good feeling in my bespoke shirts.
3) I think I only need 2-3 new shirts a year as the ones I have seem to last very long

Julian

That’s an interesting comment abut you’re Sackville Street shirt maker. I have also only gone to one bespoke maker who was also on Sackville Street who has now made errors with a frequency that I am no longer willing to tolerate. Given that there are two well known makers literally next door to each other on the eastern side of the road it isn’t possible to be confident that we are both talking about the same person. I won’t mention names but suffice it to say that maybe I should have walked a few steps further North up Sackville Street to the premises that has a shop window rather than stopping at the first establishment that I came to, the one behind the rather nondescript unmarked door.

AGK

Not sure why you both are being so coy… the point of this blog is to provide information about various merchants/tailors/etc. I assume that Julian was unhappy with Sean O’Flynn and wishes he had tried Kent, Haste, and Lachter… if that is incorrect please correct.

Frank

You are both right. The shirts Mr. O’Flynn makes do fit very well, it is only a pity I can expect errors like wrong buttons, other cuffs etc. at almost every second commission. I do not know if the shop a few steps further makes much better shirts. To be honest, I do not know if London is the place to commission “bespoke” shirts any longer.

Simon Martelo

Hi Simon. I have an issue with shirts that I haven’t seed addressed, maybe someone can help me with that. I find that poorly made shirts have a horrible problem in the top button. When you do your tie up they don’t allow the knot to properly sit at the top of your shirt. There is always a little bit of the shirt peeping on top of the knot. I find this horrible! I hope I’ve explained myself well and some of you can identify.

The worst part is I’ve yet to find a solution for this. I don’t know what is causing this. To me it’s as if the button were pushing the knot away. Or maybe since two parts of cloth meet in that point it is too thick or something.

Hope you can help me with a solution.

Best,

Simon Martelo

Peter

Could the problem be with the tie Simon? I have certain ties that hold the knot and stay up very well and others that tend to “slide”.

jrandyv

Most of my best shirts are T&A and Charvet;both very well made. I had several Hamilton shirts made with Alumo fabrics which I greatly appreciate.

MCS

I live in NYC. In chronological order starting 25 years ago, I’ve had custom shirts from a now-defunct NYC maker; bought Kiton and Borrelli shirts including some made to measure; bought custom shirts from Kabbaz; custom from Mattuozo in Naples; and now get shirts made by Hemrajani, sometimes with shirting from other sources (Riva, Simonet-Godard).
I don’t know why anyone spending $200 per shirt or more would not buy custom shirts. Collar size and shape, weight of collar and cuff interlining, body fit, super-exact sleeve length, front and back length are all important, and the less expensive custom makers can do all those things better and cheaper than anyone manufacturing to average patterns. With some patience, you can get everything exactly right.
Kabbaz is the best anywhere, as far as I can tell, unless you have a handstitching fetish (which I don’t understand) — but you have to be willing to pay large amounts to enjoy his work ($900 per shirt, maybe more now). I still wear some of his shirts 8 years after they were made, but Hemrajani comes pretty close, has a very large fabric selection, is reliable, and a lot cheaper (at most $400 per shirt for excellent shirtings).
I guess my rough ratios are $400-shirt, $4000-shoes, and $6000-suit; I don’t get too many of anything and acknowledge these prices are extremely self-indulgent, but it’s what I spend money on.

CTW

Though I have to travel far from my Pittsburgh home to really find most of these items, I have three thoughts:

aesthetic hand stitching is more important on suits/jackets for me (if handed stitching can be afforded, fine but it certainly not mandatory);

a well-fitting shirt is very important’ in my case, I have a 17.5 inch neck but a 34 inch waist. “Off the counter” shirts from Brooks & Brothers (pre Marks & Spencer) looked way too baggy on me and so I went to a custom shirt; and,

well cared for, properly made shoes should last much longer than dry cleaned shirts (or shirts washed by a angry wife “dry clean them or wash them yourself”); shirts should turn over faster than shoes so a higher amount of your yearly budget should go to shirts (over-all longterm budget is a different story).

Anonymous

As I said in an earlier post within this series, I have been wearing only T&A bespoke for the past 10 years. I like the history and their very loud house fabrics but recently I am feeling that a change is needed. Since the price has been going up and the orders are never right the first time, I believe that for pure machine-stitching, they are too expensive. There are quite a few Italian makers which are not that well known who can make a very good shirt for the same price of around 200-250 € with some nice hand-stitching details on top. At one point, the whole flamboyance and self-indulgence of hand-stitching becomes relevant if not important.
Finally, in a shirt, I am looking for perfect fit and great details, nothing more and nothing less. I do not spend that much on shirts year-over-year as I have quite a few and only buy around 3-5 every year. Tried Charvet at one point and despite the very nice experience I believe that 400,- and up for a shirt is beyond reasonable, never mind your disposable income.

Laurent

Anonymous

Simon

Like you, I’m interested to hear people’s views on what is important in a shirt. For me, it is fit, especially in the waist and sleeves. I use Robert Emmett on Jermyn Street for my shirts, I find good quality and fabrics, but reasonable price at the same time.

However, with the mention on the roll of Italian collars, I’ve found I’m quite taken by this. I’m interested to know if you, or any of your readers know of an Italian tailor/shirt maker in London that they can recommend in addition to the maker of the third shirt in your comparrison?

Anonymous

Thanks Simon. It’s getting the balance between the additional costs of a London shop and the cost of getting to Italy and having it done there. Although I’m sure the latter has its own advantages!

Anonymous

I have bought quite a few in the past via 40 Savile Row. Not the highest profile name but they make in Northern Ireland and I’ve always been happy with them.

Frankly, the key is fit. I have a wide neck, long arms but a slim body. Anything off the shelf that fits my neck is so baggy that you could get two people in the shirt. Having them made to measure was a revelation.

It also makes your life a lot easier, compared to going around the shops, trying brands to see what fits and then being restricted by the colours / patterns that brand has.

I pitched up at 40SR every 5 years (I now don’t wear a suit daily so I don’t need to do this now), ordered 10 shirts and was done for shirt shopping for half a decade.

Anonymous

An additional point: for someone who doesn’t wear a jacket in the office, I would strongly recommend MTM shirts. In fact, I would prioritise it over a MTM / bespoke suit.

Assuming you’re not wearing a jacket, a badly fitting off the peg shirt with expensive MTM trousers still looks bad. A well fitting MTM shirt would look good even if worn with a pair of M&S suit trousers.

Anonymous

Thanks for these posts, can we expect some more posts on shoes soon? And socks!
Also all of these posts are amazing, but would it be possible to see some more budget friendly options? Of course I realise that the further you delve into bespoke the harder it is to turn back but not all of us can bankroll these operations, especially the younger clientele among us!
H

Julian

In answer to your questions
1) Hand stitching is not an issue for me. I value consistency more so if anything I prefer machine stitching.
2) Wearing a shirt with badly executed armholes can be uncomfortable when wearing a jacket with high armholes and tweaking the collar size and shape is a big part of a shirt that will always be visible so fit and fabric are the two things that I care about most. I’m also retired now so I often wear a shirt without a jacket, especially linen ones in the summer, so shirts are important to me.
3) My typical price point for a shirt is in the £250 to £300 range whereas for shoes I’d say that my typical price point is £1,250 EG Top Drawer with the odd foray into bespoke at about twice that price. Jackets about £2,500 to £3,000. I don’t really do suits any more.

Having lost faith in my current shirt maker I’m now looking elsewhere but from past experience with jackets and shoes I now really value makers who are local. Arranging meetings with travelling artisans or travelling out to them creates a barrier that I don’t like and has slowed things down substantially in the past for me. I know that they’re derided by many people as being too much like fancy MTM but, as already mentioned, I value consistency so if the fit is good and the fabric selection good then I really don’t care. Because of this I’m seriously thinking of giving T&A bespoke a go which unfortunately means a 6 shirt commitment but that’s cheaper that taking a risk with a new tailor for a sports jacket.

Anonymous

Simon,

Thanks for asking about my feedback and here it is:

1. Very much like aesthetic hand stitching on my shirts and am more more than happy to pay a premium for it. However, not more than 20% in price.

2. Don’t see this as an either/or, both jacket and shirt need to well fitting. For ready made shirts that are a little on the blousy side (unfortunately the norm in the the US) I have my local seamstress put in darts based on measurements from a well fitting shirt. I also usually have to move the buttons on the cuffs to account for my normal to slender wrists.

3. My rule of thumb (for both bespoke and ready made) is as follows (normalizing to 100 for a suit).

a) Suit = 100
b) Shoes = 50
c) Shirt = 10

Admittedly there are going to be deviations based on fabric/material etc. It has been a while since my last trip to Rome where I get my bespoke clothes (I think you get the best value there) from Brioni (suits), Marini (shoes – although lately I have been getting most of my shoes from Cleverley) and Battistoni (shirts). Moreover, back then the Euro/Dollar rates were more favorable.

Based on my current wardrobe, most of my shopping now is for ready made clothes. When I find things at a good price (that will be worn as part of my normal rotation), they are purchased as long as I don’t’ exceed my annual budget.

As far as ready made shirts are concerned, I rarely pay more than $125 for them and have had no problem finding Borrelli, Barba, Truzzi (which in my opinion makes an excellent Italian version of a Jermyn st. shirt) and Hilditch (and occasionally Kiton and Charvet as well) at these prices from various online outlets. I am very particular about pattern matching and will not buy a shirt if it does not have that.

Hopefully my feedback will be useful for you.

Jerrell Whitehead

Hello Simon,

As you are a fan of Neapolitan shirtings, I am surprised that you only briefly mentioned Anna Matuozzo. Is cost the only reason you are not returning to use her services?

Kashif Z

Simon –

First, very informative and useful review (as always). Here are my views on the three issues –

1. Over the years, I have become a huge fan of handmade buttonholes on shirts – I understand there is negligible functional value-add of a handmade buttonhole but I value aesthectics over functionality in this particular instance. I also have the sleevehead attached by hand. Apart from these, the rest of the shirt is machinemade. Furthermore, I have requested my local shirtmaker to use 3.2 mm thick oyster pearl buttons as the default option (I have to source these directly since he doesn’t get many requests for these).

2. Fit is quite important despite the fact that a well-tailored jacket will draw attantion away from the shirt and one could potentially get away with a shirt that has a medoicre fit at best. However, more often than not, I keep my jacket off at work – even in meetings – so it hardly gets noticed so the fit of the shirt in my case is crucial otherwise it gives the impression of being ‘sloppy’!

3. As far as spending on shirt goes, I end up spending a lot less than what I spend on my suits and shoes. The reason is that after having tried various tailors/RTW shoemakers, I have settled on one particular bootmaker in London and two tailors (in London) for my suits (both are MTM and not bespoke although I have recently ventured into the world of bespoke suits for the first time and it remains in work-in-progress). However, as far as the shirts are concerned, I am able to purchase locally some of the finest shirtings available including Alumo, Riva (when it was in production and available), S.I.C. Tess, etc. and have these stiched by my local tailor. As a result, I have never paid more than GBP 135 (the only exception was an Anna Matuozzo MTM shirt) for a bespoke shirt in let’s say Alumo fabric with a yarn count of 170/2. I understand the same shirt with the level of handwork I request may cost upwards of GBP 250 in London. So, assuming I have half-a-dozen shirts made at GBP 135 per shirt per year, I end up spending as much as I would on a MTO pair of shoes (less if I am going down the path of Deco G&G or Top Drawer EG).

Hope the above is useful and please keep the informative posts coming!

Matt Spaiser

1. Handmade buttonholes don’t concern me, but I like a well-sewn button. I prefer a shirt with a properly shanked button, not one with just the thread left a bit loose.

2. A well-fitted shirt will still look neater under a jacket. Really baggy shirts can bunch up in the front. But on RTW shirts the shoulders are usually too wide and armholes too large. I like a close-fitting shirt, but it’s not a priority.

3. I’ve paid £135 for bespoke shirts made in London, but I can’t imagine paying more. I’d rather pay less.

C.Lee

Simon,

A discussion of armhole height is in order. These bespoke shirts of yours should have high armholes to coincide with those on your bespoke coats, the two together contributing to greater ease and freedom of movement.

Charles

Anonymous

I have to say that Ede & ravenscroft offer exceptional value MTM shirts. They are made at Raynor and Sturgess I think and can be had for as little as £150 per shirt with no minimum order. I usually buy 2 or 3 at a time and have never been dissapointed with the quality…

Arthur

Hi Simon

A bit late to comment on this post but fit is definitely the most important factor in deciding on shirts. Since two years I buy MTM-shirts from new and trendy Belgian MTM-suit/shirt brand.

Although I recognise that the visual fit is pretty good, I don’t always feel very comfortable in them. MTM-shirts will – most of the times – be slimmer on the armholes and make you more aware of the sweat (sometimes visually 😉 ).

On some of the pictures of your bespoke shirts (Burgos of Madrid, D’Avino) the fit seems even slimmer than on my MTM-shirts. Are your shirts always comfortable on the armholes? Is there a way to achieve a nice slim fit and have enough comfort on the armholes, something you can ask the shirt-maker to pay attention to?

An other problem with my MTM-shirt maker is that fit isn’t consistent on all shirts ordered (which is very problematic off course since this is what you would like to avoid with MTM-shirts). I always wonder if this a result of poor production or a result of different shrinkage of different fabrics after the first wash.

Now I’m paying like 150-180 euro’s for my MTM-shirt. I’d like to change to another manufacturer but I don’t know other (better) shirtmakers in Belgium in the same price category.

Kind regards,
Arthur

Afraz

I always wear a well fitting jacket with a shirt. I don’t care how my shirts fit as long as they fit me in the neck. The problem is I have only started dressing like this very recently. I’ve spent huge amounts of money on shirts that have nice but subtle (sometimes extravagant) patterns. The thing is when the summer hits and its very hot what do I do then? I can’t wear my shirts on thier own as they are quite ill fitting on their own. What do I do ?

Many thanks!

facebook_Nicholas Lynn.10153305031989821

I saw a comment. – shirts don’t get seen as much –
So you would wear an ill fitting shirt ? It was is underneath that counts as it hold all the rest together

Mike Quick

Simon, I think I’ve read through most of the the comments and one thing that many of the people here who say they place hand-stitching on shirts as low priority are missing the most important thing: hand stitched shirts don’t seem to be as rigid as machine stitched ones. My hand-stitched shirts “give” at the seams, especially the shoulders and therefore are more comfortable AND last longer. In fact, the more I wear them, the more comfortable they are. Sometimes when I take them off after a long day of work, they actually hold a shaped like my shoulder. Too me, it’s no contest. My machine stitched shirts remain rigid years after purchase. Am I imagining this flexibility in hand-stitching?