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Shirt Quality Question

dk_ace

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I've been lurking and reading for weeks now and I've learned a great deal here. There is a lot of talk here about quality and long lasting goods which makes perfect sense to me (I'm the guy that's used, abused, and had to throw away probably 5 pairs of cheap dress shoes in the last two years). I understand quality when it comes to shoes, and I'm starting to grasp what it means in suits, but I'm just lost on shirts.

What I'm not understanding is how the "high quality" dress shirts are that much better than the more affordable dress shirts available. What makes a 100% cotton Brioni light blue barrel-cuff shirt that sales for $425 better than the 100% cotton Calvin Klein barrel-cuff light blue shirt that I can pick up at an outlet or discount store for $15?

I'm not saying that there isn't a difference, I'm wanting to know what that difference is. The easy answer would be "they last longer," but I've got a number of Hilfiger and Calvin Klein cotton dress shirts that are still great after 3-4 years of fairly heavy wear. I've also had my fair share of cheap dress shirts that are virtually disposable, so I know there's plenty of junk out there too.

I would also like to know if you can spot the difference when shopping besides reading the brandname? From those that have bought both of the kinds of shirts I'm describing, is there a point of diminishing returns that you've noticed. If you think so, where do you think that point is?

Thanks for all your help! This forum has been a huge help to me in recent weeks.

D
 

Ataturk

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Pay more for a shirt for fit, fabric, styling, details, construction. Durability really isn't an issue. Shirt fabric just wears out and there's no getting around it.
 

inimitable

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You will often find fusing in the collar and cuffs of cheaper shirts which can cause bubbles and puckering in the fabric affecting overall longevity.
 

Doc4

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Originally Posted by dk_ace
What I'm not understanding is how the "high quality" dress shirts are that much better than the more affordable dress shirts available. What makes a 100% cotton Brioni light blue barrel-cuff shirt that sales for $425 better than the 100% cotton Calvin Klein barrel-cuff light blue shirt that I can pick up at an outlet or discount store for $15?


Your Calvin Klein $15 shirt probably has some polyester in it ... most $15 shirts will. You pay more for pure cotton ... but not $425 more.

If you are the kind of guy who keeps his suit jacket on all the time, you don't need to fixate on shirts that much. So long as you have a good collar, the sleeves are the right length, and the fabric is decent (so it irons properly and doesn't appear thin) then you will be well served by shirts that cost a lot less than $425.
 

Master-Classter

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a number of things... for example:

construction - everything from the stitching to the fused collars and plackets. buttons are sewen on better, inspections are done for things like loose threads.

cut - chances are the better designers have a more sophisticated pattern they're working with and they have an iconic cut/shape to their shirts

Fabric - chances are the fabric quality is better in terms of longer strands, 100% cotton, stronger weaves, etc.
colors/textures - to some extent there are just better designers / taste coming out of the higher fashion houses and you're more likely to get something that's classy. some patterns are just ugly, others are instantly iconic and classy.

novelty features - like hand stitched button holes or hand sewen buttons. no real value but they're kindof a nice touch, or pattern matching - some people are particular, I can see the appeal.
you may find features (I forgot the name) like a rippled stitch at the shoulder, along the back or at the cuffs instead of pleats which is tough to do.

that's just some random tid-bits off the top of my head.
 

davesmith

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Originally Posted by Master-Classter
you may find features (I forgot the name) like a rippled stitch at the shoulder, along the back or at the cuffs instead of pleats which is tough to do.

that's just some random tid-bits off the top of my head.


this sounds awesome!!

pictures??
 

Master-Classter

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there's some technical italian name for it I forget and once you've got that it'll be easy to find pics. Basically instead of a box or double pleat along the back the wider body fabric is sewen bunched up a bit at a time to the yolk. same thing with teh shoulder and the cuffs.

I've seen it referred to as a "gathered" yolk, cuff, etc
 

intfxdx

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agree what Master-Classter says. it's fabric and DETAILS which make a shirt better than others, style is less likely.(if you buy a dress shirt, most likely you have to tailor it) To see the quality you need to check details, buy a cheap shirt and an expensive one and look at details. Once you see the difference, you can notice it on others as well. That's what i learned just recently.
 

mlongano

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Originally Posted by dk_ace
What makes a 100% cotton Brioni light blue barrel-cuff shirt that sales for $425 better than the 100% cotton Calvin Klein barrel-cuff light blue shirt that I can pick up at an outlet or discount store for $15?

I think your question has been answered correctly in many of the above posts...just don't expect a $500.00 shirt to be twenty times better than a $25.00 shirt...the law of diminishing returns applies here.
 

dk_ace

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Thank you all for your input!

I should also add that the Calvin Klein shirt I was specifically referring to retails for $80 even though I found it for $15. It says it's 100% cotton, whether or not there's poly in it is beyond my knowledge. I would assume that it would only be trace amounts if there is any in there. As for fit, it fits me very well (not perfect, but better than most RTW shirts).

I just purchased the shirt a few weeks ago, and I've been very happy with it compared to many of the other shirts that I have. Considering it was so inexpensive, I was really curious what could be so much better about a substantially more expensive shirt such as the Brioni.

There may be a point in my life where small details and higher grade cottons mean that much to me, but if that is where the difference lies I think I will stick with the more affordable shirts for now. I'm a young man just getting started in his career, so incredibly expensive shirts are not high on my priority list.

I do wear a suit (or trousers and an odd jacket or blazer) nearly everyday to work now. I take my jacket off when I'm sitting at my desk, but it is on if I'm walking anywhere or in a meeting. That also has left me pondering what could be so special about those shirts as most of them are meant to be worn with a suit so you'll only see a very small part of the shirt. Assuming it's comfortable and fits you well, I was struggling to see what could be so great about an expensive shirt.

Oh, and on the fused collars in many of the inexpensive shirts... I've learned that lesson the hard way. I just threw a shirt away last week for that very reason.

I'm sure I'll stumble across a high end shirt like this one day in a thrift or I'll eventually break down and order a new one just to see what it's like. For now, I'll be content with what I have and can afford as the differences are probably not worth the money for me at this time. I can't buy one to compare to at this time, so I'll remain blissfully ignorant...

D
 

inimitable

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Originally Posted by Master-Classter
there's some technical italian name for it I forget and once you've got that it'll be easy to find pics. Basically instead of a box or double pleat along the back the wider body fabric is sewen bunched up a bit at a time to the yolk. same thing with teh shoulder and the cuffs. I've seen it referred to as a "gathered" yolk, cuff, etc
Are you thinking of Spalla Camicia? Turnbull & Asser are notorious for the 'gathered' sleeve rather than using pleats.
 

nayr1982

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I think with shirts, more than any other item, paying a premium for an off the rack makes the least amount of sense.

OTR shirts either will not fit you well, or will unfotunately fit you well, because your are unfortunately shaped.

Paying more for mtm or custom shirts is worth the extra cash, but as numerous people have already pointed out, shirts have a shorter shelf life than suits/shoes.
 

Sanguis Mortuum

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Originally Posted by inimitable
Are you thinking of Spalla Camicia?

Turnbull & Asser are notorious for the 'gathered' sleeve rather than using pleats.


It's not spalla camicia, that only applies to shoulders. He's talking about a shirred back, where the back is gathered into the yolk in the same way the sleeve in your pic is gathered into the cuff.
 

Ataturk

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Gathering in the back should be much more subtle than on cuffs. My shirts have about 3/4" eased into the yoke and you can't even see the gathers.
 

inimitable

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Originally Posted by Sanguis Mortuum
It's not spalla camicia, that only applies to shoulders. He's talking about a shirred back, where the back is gathered into the yolk in the same way the sleeve in your pic is gathered into the cuff.

Yes sorry I meant Spalla Camicia in reference to the shoulder only.

I don't know the technical term when applied to a cuff, but I have seen it in T&A shirts.
 

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