At the end of last year I completed a project with Sean O’Flynn to cut a traditional dress shirt, with voile back, Marcella front and detachable stiff collar. Some readers may remember they have already seen this shirt in black tie shoots with The Rake. I can only apologise it’s taken this long to write up the details.

While I have written recently of seeking a Neapolitan shirtmaker to eventually replace my whole shirt wardrobe (with Satriano Cinque the front runner), for a formal shirt like this the twin draws of tradition and proximity drew me to Sean.

Sean’s pedigree is unrivalled, having started his career with an apprenticeship at Huntsman at the age of 16 and gone on to be the head cutter at New and Lingwood. He started his own business in 2005 and is now one of only a handful of bespoke shirtmakers in London, cutting everything by hand on the premises.

The shirt we made was a slight deviation from the norm, with a very lightweight voile back and heavy Marcella front. Normally the back wouldn’t be quite as light, for fear of pulling away from the more structured front, but seeing as the shirt will get light wear and be washed carefully, I was comfortable with the risk.

 

We opted for two detachable collars in the end, a stiff wing collar (they’re very stiff) and a turn-down Marcella one. The former will go best with my Richard Anderson tux, perhaps, and the latter with the Timothy Everest velvet jacket.
English shirtmakers don’t normally do a fitting, unlike their European peers, instead making a trial shirt that should then be perfected on the next shirt (hence the minimum orders some makers require). Sean was pretty confident he could get the fit first time, however, and he was pretty much good to his word (despite the reports of some readers). The only point that was a little too tight was around the hips, which is hardly the worst place for the fit to be off. Elsewhere it was perfect.
 

The stiff collar takes some getting used to, but does show off a good bow tie to its full potential. In the case of the Rake shoot that bow was a specially commissioned one piece from Le Noued Papillon. The stiff collar could be seen as the crowning glory to a good tuxedo.

 
The shirt has been worn, washed and reworn and performed very well. I might change the lightness of the voile, but that is purely because the wool/mohair exclusive Richard Anderson cloth is so light that any step outside at an evening event induces chills. It contains no hand sewing, unlike the European makers we have discussed, but that hardly seems a priority.

 

Sean charges £241 for a standard shirt and £278 for a dress shirt such as this (both including VAT).
 
In the photos, studs and cufflinks by The Hanger Project.

Photos: Luke Carby