What’s In A Dress Shirt?

— Wed, 20th January 2010 —

What goes into the making of a superior dress shirt? “The devil is entirely in the details,” writes The Wall Street Journal. “Like the wine market, the ready-made men’s shirt world is crowded with products of varying style, quality and substance … The differences can be subtle — an extra stitch at the back of a button, a bit of glue inside a cuff — but those intricacies determine the way a shirt feels against the skin and how it looks after being cleaned.”

At Charvet or your neighborhood consignment shop, how does one spot quality? Fabric first, one connoisseur tells The Journal. “It should be firm with a smooth feel … A consumer can check the density of the weave by holding a shirt to the light … Light will only partly penetrate a shirt if it’s made of quality fabric with a dense weave.”

Also check the cuffs and collar for a bit of slack between the outer and inner layers of fabric, and the firmer interior material. “A customer should check that the pocket’s stripes or checks are aligned with the background pattern … The yoke and sleeve lines should match; and the collar stand — the piece of cloth below the collar that holds the top button — should line up with the front of the shirt.”

To boot, a shirt’s seams should have a minimum of 15 stitches per inch. The tail should be long enough to stay tucked into a pair of trousers when a person raises his hand, and the side seams should be reinforced at the intersection of the two parts of the tail with a piece of cloth called a gusset.

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