I recently jumped the gap to custom dress shirt tailoring and I’m afraid it will be hard to jump back from there ! I had thought about it for a very long time and pretty much new what I’d wanted and how I like my dress shirts to fit me. As I believe the world would be a better place with gentlemen wearing properly fitting shirts, here are a few major guidelines to help you through the process of buying custom-made shirts.
- The collar : a good tailor will have at least 6 or 7 different collars to choose from. Dress shirts aren’t button down because it is stricly forbidden to wear a tie on a button-down shirt. Ditch the so-called club collar, it is a bit groovy and too Ivy for your own good. I like the tab-collar very much, not only because James Bond wears it. However, the most classic option remain the best one for most people : you might want to have it with a slightly larger spread than average ready-to-wear collars so look look sharper.
- The last button hole of the shirt has to be sewn horizontal. Good tailors do that.
- Buttons have to be made of mother-of-pearl (boutons nacrés)
- The buttonhole shouldn’t have a placket unless it is a black-tie shirt (and buttons should be covered). I do like a placket though for it’s symetry.
- The cuffs should have a round cut and one fastening button. I feel like I’m too young for French cuffs but you may want some and that’s okay with me.
- Dress shirts always have long sleeves ! Just to be sure we’re on the same page.
- Dress shirts have no pocket.
- On monogramming : have it sewn somewhere discrete. Not on the cuffs for example.
- Fit depends on your preference but remember you have to breathe so no extra slim fit okay ?
- Two side pleats on the back of the shirt.
- The shirt should be long enough to remain tucked in your pants all day. Allow something like 15-20 centimeters to tuck in.
- Patterns shoud be aligned between the sleeves and the shoulder as well as on the forearm opening.
- Pleats on the end of the sleeves vary between 2 to 7 for the arms’ ease.
- On the sleeves length : a whole book wouldn’t suffice documenting this matter of utmost importance. The shirt has to end just under your forearm’s pointy bone and should never touch your arm. In any circumstance. Note that for this to happen, you might have to take in consideration that the fabric might shrink when first machine washed. Ask your tailor…
I’ll try to come back more extensively on shirt fabrics but I think you’ve got the essentials here for a good start !