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Budget Jermyn Street Shirt Shootout: CT vs TM Lewin

bjornb17

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Budget Jermyn Street Shirt Shootout (<$50 Price Range)

I recently decided to try out some Jermyn Street-branded shirts and checked out the budget brands, Charles Tyrwhitt (CT) and TM Lewin (TML), which are about equal in cost and often compared to one another here on SF and elsewhere. I ordered a few of the non-iron slim fit shirts from both companies and gave them all a try.

I was surprised by how much better than CT shirts are, in my opinion. I also have some Brooks Brothers and JAB shirts, and the CT shirts are better than both of those as well. My understanding is that TM Lewin just recently re-introduced this non-iron line, and they don’t seem to be very good. The CT shirts just feel a whole lot more refined.

I understand that none of these brands are of the same quality as some of the more expensive ones touted here, but I hope that this is beneficial to people like me who are more budget-oriented (probably mostly includes younger people with less money – I’m 26.)

In my mind, CT is to shirts as Allen Edmonds is to shoes – That is, being the cheapest brand you can buy while still getting a high-quality product in return, a baseline from which to start at.

Below are my opinions of the pros and cons of both brands:

CT Non-Iron Slim Fit
Price paid: $36 to $50 and free shipping to US

Pros:
Multiple weaves: Poplin, Hairline, Puppytooth, Twill, Basketweave, among others
Collars: Spread, Cutaway
Cuffs: Single and Double Cuff (both now offered with either collar type)
Brass Collar Stays
Higher armholes (Sleeves begin at end of top of shoulder)
Extremely responsive and accommodating customer service
Free shipping on returns and exchanges
Good selection of tasteful patterns that is updated seasonally
Non-Iron fabric still feels pretty crisp on most weaves
Shirts do not shrink (if hang dried. Using a drier is a different story)
I’ve had a couple of the shirts for a few months, have worn them 10+ times and they still look like new.

Cons:
Some weaves slightly transparent
Plastic buttons (but nicer than the TML buttons)
Non-Iron shirts still require ironing (I iron all my shirts regardless so no big deal)
Pattern matching is hit-or-miss (about 50% luck with this)


TML Non-Iron Slim Fit
Price paid: $47 and free shipping to US

Pros:
Some neat, bold patterns. But they look much better on the website than in person.

Cons:
Only one weave: Twill
Top of sleeve hangs about 3 inches off each shoulder
No attempt at pattern matching (especially obvious with the bolder stripes)
Fabric is very thick, waxy, and shiny, but still somewhat transparent
Only one cuff type: Double Cuff
Only one collar type: Spread
Overly thick fabric causes the cuffs and collar to look very clunky and unrefined
Slits in cuffs for cufflinks are too large, combined with thick fabric makes silk knots pop out
Plastic buttons are very thin
Customer service is making me pay shipping to UK to return the shirts and basically said tough luck
Many loose stitches
Sleeve length only offered in 1.5” increments
Shirts generally just feel kind of cheap
 

mdp0430

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I too think that CT is better than TM. However, I do feel that my BB shirts are better than CT's. In addition, BB offers more options in OCBD. I would add that an additional pro for CT is that you can order the shirts with or without pockets. I also felt that the TM patterns weren't quite courtroom appropriate.
 

Ianiceman

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Excellent thread and summary Bjorn. Thanks for that. I was thinking of starting a similar thread the other day but don't have nearly your experience to comment.

I've taken advantage of the ridiculously cheap CT offer recently and was very satisfied. Haven't had any TML but was wondering what the difference was. Looks like I was lucky to pick the right option.

CTs have had some grief on this site for being too wide (even their slim fits) but at $35 you could spend $15 on alterations and still come out with a well made well fitting shirt comparable to and yet still much cheaper than many MTMs.

This thread is not for high rollers who think nothing of paying over $100 for an OTR shirt. Your AE analogy is spot on. Also I mag be wrong but most BB shirts I see all seem to have central box pleats which IMO look shite. Much prefer the subtle shoulder pleats of CT.
 

bjornb17

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Originally Posted by mdp0430
I too think that CT is better than TM. However, I do feel that my BB shirts are better than CT's. In addition, BB offers more options in OCBD. I would add that an additional pro for CT is that you can order the shirts with or without pockets. I also felt that the TM patterns weren't quite courtroom appropriate.

I must admit that I hate shirt pockets, and usually don't wear OCBD, so I consider it a pro that by default that CT doesn't have pockets but it is great that they have it as a free option (Although at an extra 5-10 delay or something like that).
 

imageWIS

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TML shirts are good for the money, except for one thing: the necks shrink to almost unusable proportions. Easily 1/2" shrinkage. And I was my shirts in cold water and air dry, every time.
 

lennier

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Note that from my experience almost none of the cons listed here (aside from sleeve increments) apply to TMLs normal shirts, so if true they must be confined to the non-iron shirts only (which I've never bought).
All the other information I've seen is that TML and CT are completely comparable in almost every way, except that TML's slim fit is slimmer than CT's (more like CT's more limited range tailored fit). Preference for one over the other tends to run about 50/50.
I would take the above to be in no way representative of TML's normal shirts, so I'd bear that in mind.
 

Bounder

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Originally Posted by bjornb17
In my mind, CT is to shirts as Allen Edmonds is to shoes - That is, being the cheapest brand you can buy while still getting a high-quality product in return, a baseline from which to start at.
Wow. Do they have seconds?
 

bjornb17

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Originally Posted by Mac
My CT shirts are crap. I washed them once and they crinkled and looked a mess—even after ironing.
I'm talking specifically about the non-iron shirts. I had a must-iron shirt that I didn't like too much and returned it.
 

D Yizz

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Thank you. I have been ordering CT shirts for the past few years and was considering ordering a few TML's. I'll stick with CT.
 

junior varsity

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regular slim fit has a bunch of selection and variety from BB, CT and TML.
but the extra slim fit (me) have very few colors and patterns to choose from ...
its such a shame
 

D Yizz

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Originally Posted by junior varsity
regular slim fit has a bunch of selection and variety from BB, CT and TML. but the extra slim fit (me) have very few colors and patterns to choose from ... its such a shame
Yup. However, CT slims can be tailored to be as slim or slimmer than BBs ESF.
 

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