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Battle of the Buttondowns

Manton

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I recently got two OCBDs, for comparison purposes and of course to wear and enjoy. One is from CEGO, the other is from Mercer.

The CEGO is truly MTM. No hand drafted paper pattern, but a range of measurements, including point to point, shoulder slope, chest/waist/hips, etc.

The Mercer is more of a stock special with options. You can combine different collar sizes with different bodies. You can also specify that the body be slimmed down by 2" (what David Mercer calls the "Slim Jim" treatment.) The key, though, is not to just get a small body because you want a slim shirt. The body sizes are graded. You want the body size that has the right point-to-point for you. So I would advise measuring a well-fitting shirt and telling David your point-to-point and letting him select a body for you.

I got mine with a 16 collar and a 15 body, with the 2" "Slim Jim" treatment. I also got mine in a "long" and with the 8-button option. All this cost extra.

Costwise, CEGO was $125, Mercer was $104.50. CEGO's price is set; or more accurately, there are two prices, one for his NJ factory, and one for his local seamstresses. The NJ factory price is lower and that's what I chose. Beyond that, one price gets you all the options you want, save one, which I will get to. Mercer on the other hand begins with a very low RTW price and then upcharges a little here and there for various options. I'm sure many of you could get a shirt from him for less than I did, particularly those of you who do not want or need a long and/or the eighth button.

Results: The quality is about the same. Good, solid single needle construction. Not as fine as Kabbaz, but fine. They each use the same plastic buttons (the same one BB uses). With CEGO I was actually offered the option of upgrading to MOP for an additional charge (I don't recall how much), but I declined. Both have soft collars and cuffs with no interlining.

I don't know much about the respective cloths. They are both traditional, beefy oxfords. Carl told me (at least I think I recall this) that stuff he uses is from Japan. I don't know if Mercer uses the same stuff or not. Again, I don't have any complaints about either cloth. It's not Alumo 200s, nor is it meant to be. I'm sure just touching it would give Kabbaz a rash.

Fit: The CEGO defintely fits better. The shoulders are more accurate, more true to my shape and slope, etc. The body is not super-fitted -- I wanted some room -- but way trimmer than a Brooks OCBD.

The Mercer fits reasonably well. The neck is fine. The point-to-point is about right. From the front, it looks pretty good. However, even with that small body AND the slim treatment, it is still much baggier at the waist than the CEGO. I suppose this should not be surprising, nor a cause for complaint, as this is Mercer's specialty and point of pride. The tag inside the collar band even says "Baggier is Better."

But the shirt really balloons out in the back. It's just that full. Plus the box pleat contributes to the puffiness in back. Also, even in a "long," this shirt is not as long as the CEGO. My number one complaint about BB RTW is that the shirts are too short, and too baggy at the waist, so they rarely stay tucked in and look sloppy when they do. The Mercer is definitely better in these respects, but the CEGO is better than the Mercer.

Options: With CEGO, I could also specify certain options, for instance side pleats in back rather than a box pleat. I also like my cuffs to be 3" from top to bottom rather than the more typical 2.5". And I like the diameter to be a little more snug than normal.

With Mercer, these things are set. The Mercer appears to be a to me a true copy of an old world BB OCBD: same pocket shape, cuff shape, cuff button placement (up toward the gauntlet, a detail I rather like), etc. One difference is that on the old BBs (at least on mine) the sleeve excess is rather haphazardly shirred into the cuff, i.e., not with Matuozzo elegance. On Mercer, this excess is pleated in and it looks much neater.

The collar: This is where the Mercer shines. The points are a bit shorter than the CEGO (3.5" v. 3.75"), and the band is significantly lower, 1 3/8" v. 2". And, again, with CEGO you can specify how you want all this; with Mercer, you can't.

But the Mercer has a lovely roll, just like BB; the perfect amount of tie space; and -- crucially -- the part of the collar band where the button and buttonhole meet are sort of "notched" downward. The effect of this is to prevent the ghastly appearance of collarband above the tie knot. To me, a BD must have tie space, but the combination of tie space and the softness of the collar often causes the tie knot to droop. I don't mind this, only I hate seeing collar band above the knot. With the CEGO, which has more of a "normal shirt" collar band, this slightly more of a problem. With the Mercer, it's not.

I specifed 1/2" of tie space on the CEGO, and it looks to my eye like I got less. I think I will ask for 3/4" next time and see how it goes. I also want a little more roll.

So, verdict? I like them both, a lot. CEGO has certain very real advantages, however. Carl has already noticed some small fit improvements that he wants to make, as have I. So the next shirt will be better. With Mercer, what I got this time is what I will get everytime.

Pics:

CEGO:







Mercer:



 

Manton

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Originally Posted by yfyf
Great red tie, where from?

Carl gave it to me. It's wool and it says "Made in Italy." The label is "Private Club." It is a mere 2 1/4" wide.
 

Shirtmaven

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Free Knit tie with every OCBD!!!

David Mercer is a good friend. I have sold him some fabric over the years. I do not know whose Oxford cloth he is using. Sadly, Dan River makes nothing worth using.
Even brooks stopped using the Supima oxford when price got to high and quality went down.

the mercer shirt has a much deeper armhole and fuller sleeve. I also do not think David's workroom has the ability to account for shoulder slope.

I also do not like the tail of the mercer shirt, but that is how Brooks used to make them.
I would be cusrious to see the difference between really old BB shirts made in the Patterson , NJ factory and the shirts made today in Garland, NC
 

itsstillmatt

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Sadly, I much prefer the CEGO shirt. I only say sadly because I was thinking of getting some Mercers made up, and I cannot get to CEGO for fittings.
 

Brad

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I think the CEGO shirt looks much nicer on you.
 

voxsartoria

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I am going to put a plug in for the Black Fleece OCBDs that Thom Browne did up for BB. For those of you who want the BB collar in a slimmer bodied, slimmer sleeved, higher armhole version with MOP buttons, and can fit in one of the infernal limited sizes in which these come, they are not bad at all. I really like them.

At $150, obviously not competitive with either Mercer or CEGO unless the Black Fleece fits you, which in my case, it approximately does.

If you don't have access to CEGO, but do to a BB, and are not committed to a classically balloony OCBD, check it out.

- B
 

speedster.8

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Originally Posted by Shirtmaven
the mercer shirt has a much deeper armhole and fuller sleeve. I also do not think David's workroom has the ability to account for shoulder slope. I also do not like the tail of the mercer shirt, but that is how Brooks used to make them.
+1 the sleeves and tail on the CEGO are miles better.
Originally Posted by Brad
I think the CEGO shirt looks much nicer on you.
+ 1 General fit. Dont usually like Bd but the CEGO has me thinking. Thanks. Speed
 

whnay.

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CEGO, hands down.
 

Connemara

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Both look real nice, but Carl's shirt seems to fit a bit better. That Mercer collar roll is Trad heaven
 

Bradford

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I like them both, but I think the Mercer looks a little more casual. Also, I like the fact that the CEGO can be ordered with side pleats in the back. While the box pleat is "trad" for a buttondown, I think it sort of makes the wearer look like they are in college.

I also like the 8th button option. I assume that would stop the dreaded gap between buttons that sometimes happens at the waistband with us tall guys?
 

Manton

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Originally Posted by Bradford
I also like the 8th button option. I assume that would stop the dreaded gap between buttons that sometimes happens at the waistband with us tall guys?

Yeah, but not only that, it helps the shirt stay tucked in.
 

AlanC

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The CEGO certainly wins with fit, although there's something about the the Mercer that seems authentic. I think part of it is the fabric itself. I have a Brooks OCBD that is very similar to your Mercer. The CEGO is reminiscent of some of the OCBDs offered through men's speciality shops (Kenneth Gordon, etc.).

I still think you need to add a flap to the pocket. Surely Carl could help you out there.
 

Manton

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Originally Posted by AlanC
I think part of it is the fabric itself.

I don't notice much difference. They are both large plainweave oxfords.

I still think you need to add a flap to the pocket. Surely Carl could help you out there.
Damnit, no!
 

Neo1824

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I like the fit of the CEGO as well. Ballooning in the back drives me nuts.

I typically don't wear a tie so given that situation, does one of these shine above the other?
 

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