Custom Made Shirts: An Introduction
Ever wondered why that 33-34 shirt that you bought had sleeves that were too bulky or you had to leave the collar unbuttoned?
Off the rack shirt makers have one simple goal: to fit as many people into as few sizes as possible. Even more annoying, you may have an extra 5 to 6 inches in the waist. You end up with excess fabric because it isn’t excess for the next guy, it is actually necessary.
So wait, why are you wearing the other guy’s shirt?
Customization is key
In an effort to make consumers feel they had more options, shirt makers began to offer different cuts. For several years now, you have been able to find store bought shirts in a trim or athletic cut but were you aware there is a big difference? A man choosing a trim fit should have thinner arms and a slender chest while a man who needs an athletic cut will often have large biceps and a muscular chest. There is more allowance for the muscles in an athletic cut. Sometimes only one or the other is offered from an off the rack shirt maker hoping you will think they are one and the same.
You’ll never regret giving a custom or made to measure shirt a shot. You might be surprised at how affordable it is. With today’s technology it is easy to order quality custom shirts online. Instead of going to a tailor in your area, ordering a shirt online essentially cuts out the middle man. Chances are your local tailor takes his customer’s measurements and orders them online anyway. He just marks up the price.
If you decide to go to a local tailor, he or she will use a seamstress tape to take the 8 basic shirt body measurements. Without removing your undershirt, the tape should gently measure your neck, chest, waist, hip, shoulder, sleeve, tail length and wrist. Again, I stress that you can take these measurements yourself in less than 10 minutes with a seamstress tape that can be found at any local drugstore. Online shirt makers offer easy to follow measurement guides and are equipped to help answer your measurement questions along the way.
Top 10 Criterias For A Quality Custom-made Shirt
All online tailors are not the same so when you decide to have a shirt made just for you, you need to be careful. Quality doesn’t have to be overlooked just to get an affordable shirt. There are many details a shirt maker may skip and hope you don’t notice.
Here are the top 10 criterias that tell you whether the shop you are ordering a custom-made shirt from has high standards in quality and manufacturing. After all one of the easier to acquire manly things that will help you make a reasonable impression is your attire. Let us begin.
1. Retro-fitting is Out
Make sure they are not simply modifying an existing shirt or even an existing shirt pattern. Ask if they create a unique pattern for each customer. This is first and foremost what makes it a custom shirt.
Stitches Per Inch or SPI is extremely important when it comes to the quality of a custom dress shirt. A quality shirt maker should choose a high SPI to enhance not only the seam performance and elasticity, but the strength and the appearance of the stitch itself. Look for an SPI of 20 if possible.
3. Quality Interfacing
Let’s face it, or shall I say interface it? (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) You’ve probably had to toss out your favorite dress shirt because of a bubbling issue on the collar or cuff at some point. This is so disappointing because the rest of the shirt still looked great on you, right? Fusing or “Interfacing” is the stiff piece in the collar and cuff that keeps its shape. When a company chooses to use a lesser quality interfacing or the compatibility between the fabric and fusing don’t match up, the bubbles begin. And they won’t iron out… Ever.
4. Fabric Quality
Ask where their fabrics are purchased. Do they have a large selection of fabrics? Do they offer some fabrics with higher thread counts than others? I suggest starting in the middle price point and going from there. If you are pleased with the middle range, moving up can only get better, right?
5. Thread Quality
When purchasing thread your tailor needs to order quality. Thread strength matters to create gorgeous stitching. Also the strength of that thread must be compatible with the fabric quality. You want to find a shirt maker who specifically picks the thread based on the chosen fabric.
6. Split Yoke
Some custom shirt makers may avoid the split yoke hoping you aren’t familiar with the term. Remember the shoulder blade and upper back area is where a lot of your tension settles. Whether you are sitting at a desk all day or writing on a dry erase board, the yoke needs to allow movement.
7. Quality Control
Ask about their Quality Control department. Does Q/C ensure the product meets your specs before it ships? They should re-check the fabric, measurements, thread, stitching, and styling details to make sure it is as ordered before the shipping clerk picks it up.
8. Collar: Straight or Bias?
If your collar is cut straight, the shirt maker saves money. How, you ask? When the fabric is properly (on the bias) cut for a collar, it uses more fabric and is cut in a more circular pattern to fit, well…your neck. It needs to hug your neck which creates a little more fabric waste. Find a shirt tailor who is not afraid to lose a little fabric in order to increase the quality of fit of your collar.
9. Proper Alignment
Currently stripes and check shirts are trending. Make sure your choice of tailors take a little more time to properly align those handsome stripes and the windowpanes. This detail is important to get that crisp looking design you are after.
10. Collar Stays and Buttons
Ask if they send extra buttons and collar stays or if there is an option for permanent collar stays to be sewn in. Read through customer feedback to see if there is a problem with button quality.
This article has been brought to you by Meghan Henley. Meghan is an expert on men’s clothing and writes on her own Men’s Style Blog.
Be sure to follow her on Twitter for more men’s fashion and style tips: @BestCustomShirt.