Technical details at the Shirtmakers Symposium

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[The votes and nominations for the Permanent Style awards closed today, by the way. Thank you for all your comments and emails. The winners will be announced next week.]

At the Shirtmakers Symposium in Florence last week we had a display of five shirts, one made by each shirtmaker.

The theme was ‘smart/casual’. I wanted to see what the makers considered a casual shirt that could transition from an office to a bar, or just be fit for a dress-down office.

They all picked different Albini cloths to demonstrate this, and the range here was interesting - everything from denim to white oxford, from butcher’s stripe to gingham check.

However, for most men these would still firmly count as smart shirts - something that reflects both the range of modern shirtings, and perhaps the relative inexperience of shirtmakers in making casual styles.

More interesting for me were the technical details, which the shirtmakers often included to demonstrate the range of what they could do.

Budd Shirts in London, for example, made its denim button-down shirt with a one-piece collar and a raglan sleeve (above).

Not only is Budd not known for stylistic variations like one-piece collars, but I had never seen a raglan sleeve on a shirt before.

As with tailoring, a raglan sleeve is difficult to cut and make, but has a less precise fit. It’s certainly unusual, but whether you like the style is more subjective.

Emanuele Maffeis had made a shirt with two unusual details.

First, at the back of the collar there was a gap where the lining had been exposed. (Just visible above.)

Although some do this for comfort, here Paolo Maffeis presented it as a good way to stop the tie from slipping, since the lining has greater texture than the shirt cloth.

Second, the front of the shirt had a double layer, showing as a large ‘V’ down the chest.

This is an old technique for shirts worn in warm weather, where a very lightweight cotton is used but doubled in the front to avoid it being too transparent.

Of course, this was for an age when men would rarely take their jacket off, and the back and sides would therefore not be seen.

(The same reason black-tie shirts are often made with different panels in the front than the body.)

The Ascot Chang shirt had another technique under the collar - this time exposing the lining all the way along the seam between collar and band (above).

This is intended to make it easier to fold the collar down, making it snap into place and never fold up.

The others, Anto Shirts and Luca Avitabile, didn’t have particular technical aspects, but Luca highlighted the tightness and tapered shape of his cuffs (above).

And Jack of Anto Shirts had elected to make his casual style with a white contrasting collar, but the band the same material as the shirt body (below).

For Jack, having only the collar (or the ‘cape’, if you count the collar as the whole piece, including band) in white is more casual, and frames the face better.

It is what he wears whenever he’s working and not wearing a tie - and a contrast collar certainly provides an alternative focus for the shirt when a tie is absent.

Although I don't wear contrast collars I certainly prefer this design with the band kept in the same material as the rest.

Photography: Jamie Ferguson @jkf_man