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Shirt Quality vis-a-vis Diminishing Returns

lordofpi

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This may seem to be a rehash of previous topics, but I am interested in exploring the returns present in obtaining higher end shirtings. Whenever this query has been presented in the past, it seems to garner, "If you have to ask, you'll never know."-type responses. I would like to finally give shape to the amorphous truth surrounding this.

I am a man who wears suits or sportcoats and trousers six days per week. While I have always devoted a great deal of time, enegry, and money with regards to bespoke suitings, high-end footwear, custom hats, luxurious ties, and so on, I have always neglected my shirts. Most of mine are RTW that I have had tailored. I had about 8 bespoke white oxford and broadcloth shirts made years back, but this was when I could not afford much, and they were of dubious quality.

As I now prepare to shift my focus to this much-neglected area of my wardrobe, I must now revisst the decision of whether or not bespoke (particularly high-end, a la Kabbaz, to name the most noteworthy) truly presents value. The reason I am nonplussed is because no one ever sees much of my shirts. I wear my jackets all day, with rare exception. My shirts are all tailored to fit me. I always am wearing a tie. My questions that follow of genuine interest to me:

(1) What does bespoke offer me that I am not getting, especially considering this is a garment little-seen? For all intents and purposes: I already have fit, I, generally, already have colors and patterns, and I certainly have variety. Obviously, with RTW I do not have options to design my cuff shape and the number of radians about the arc of my collar spread, so I can see how that is a point of MTM, at the very least.

(2) To protect my shirts from sweat, I always wear undershirts. Is the fabric quality of the dress shirt something that can be palpably distinctive while wearing it? I know that some makers claim to have access to stratospheric quality fabrics; in what way is this so [viz. that they are better]?

I am open-minded, and I accept that on this particular topic, I am ignorant. Please enlighten me. I am just very afraid that I have to go through a four-thousand dollar learning experience to decided whether or not high-end really pays. If it does, then it does; but right now, I am truly clueless.
 

lee_44106

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You ask a good question.

Sounds like you got fit down pretty well. Going bespoke will only give you more color choices and fabric choices. Whether you want to spend $500-$600 per shirt for these choices is up to you.
 

bachbeet

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I read an article recently which somewhat agrees that the shirt does not matter as much as the suit and the other items of clothing. And, I'm one of those that can say that Kabbaz makes a great shirt but I'm damned if I'll pay that much. My most expensive shirt is a Kiton. I like it a lot but I'm really reluctant to throw my money at expensive shirts.
 

lordofpi

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I guess that is pretty much where I am. I am perfectly willing to spend the money, even at Kabbaz levels; I just have to know what the reasoning is. What aspects of the shirt are delivered?

Perhaps I am having a block because I wear suits and jackets. If I just wore odd trousers and open-necked dress shirts in a business-casual sort of way, I'd be more inclined to ensure every last detail of my shirts was perfect?
 

FidelCashflow

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Originally Posted by lordofpi
(1) What does bespoke offer me that I am not getting, especially considering this is a garment little-seen?
Not much. If you already have all the styles and fabrics you want in a good fit, there's no point buying bespoke shirts. Occasionally you might find a truly unique fabric in MTM/bespoke programs, but you're just as likely to find a unique one-off fabric from RTW shirtmakers.
Originally Posted by lordofpi
Is the fabric quality of the dress shirt something that can be palpably distinctive while wearing it?
With some experience, when you touch a cloth for the first time, you'll be able to feel in your hands whether it's a quality fabric or not. Most shirts look pretty good on the beginning, whether it's something cheap like Club Monaco or bespoke, but the cheap ones don't iron as well, and don't hold up well over time after several washes as they tend to lost their softness, lose their luster, fray, and fade. If I were you, I wouldn't buy a set of Kabbaz shirts.
 

Piobaire

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Originally Posted by lordofpi
The reason I am nonplussed is because no one ever sees much of my shirts.

It would seem to me, the best motivation would be to do this for you, not for who might see your shirt.
 

kaxixi

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If you've found a reasonable approximation of your "perfect" shirt available RTW or MTM, then the benefits to going bespoke are likely small. Even then, some people don't want approximations, however reasonable. For those people, bespoke is worth the extra cost. Then again, others enjoy "imperfections" (see, for example, HoldFast's recent comments about his seemingly too-long coat in WAYWN).

Also, good bespoke is available for 250-350/shirt. The options discussed so far are much more expensive.
 

Vintage Gent

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Originally Posted by lordofpi
What does bespoke offer me that I am not getting, especially considering this is a garment little-seen? For all intents and purposes: I already have fit...

I'd wager, though, that bespoke would provide a level of precision in fit that exceeds by a fair margin what you can accomplish with altered RTW. For years, I wore RTW shirts, and was reasonably satisfied with their fit (with a few exceptions; Tyrwhitt being the most glaring). Now that I've taken the bespoke plunge, I can't imagine going back, particularly because bespoke shirts are not that much more expensive than their RTW brethren.
 

lordofpi

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^VG, I understand what you mean. I mean, there was a time (and I am sure that there are many other board members who can relate, though they may be loath to admit it) that I was reasonably satisfied with well-tailored OTR suits. I really couldn't understand how much better MTM would be, let alone bespoke. Now, I can't even imagine walking into a Men's Wearhouse, for example, and plunking down change for anything that resides within those walls. Hell, I really don't think I would do a MTM at this point.

I suppose I can grasp the fact that, by time I tailor my RTW shirts, the costs are almost the same as a local bespoke (no frills). That still leaves the higher end open to question. Haha, the more I trudge through this topic, the more I am starting to realize that it very well may be one of those things that only the wearer can decide.
 

josepidal

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Originally Posted by lordofpi
Is the fabric quality of the dress shirt something that can be palpably distinctive while wearing it? I know that some makers claim to have access to stratospheric quality fabrics; in what way is this so [viz. that they are better]?
Yes, don't underestimate fabric quality in addition to decent fit and construction, and the higher quality fabrics won't be available from the cheaper tailors. Aside from the light, fine feeling on your skin, better fabrics can be visibly different from your usual material, and some people do notice.
 

lordofpi

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Originally Posted by josepidal
Yes, don't underestimate fabric quality in addition to decent fit and construction, and the higher quality fabrics won't be available from the cheaper tailors. Aside from the light, fine feeling on your skin, better fabrics can be visibly different from your usual material, and some people do notice.

I suppose this is sort of like when some posters here declared that whole seasons/color-wheel thing (you know, if you have brown eyes and dark hair, you should wear X) did not apply to quality suits made from quality fabrics?
 

josepidal

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Originally Posted by Tailor In Style
wouldn't it be more interesting to get a few shirts instead of the expensive one?
No, because you should start with the basics and the classics before you go off in novel and whimsical directions.
 

dkzzzz

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Shirt is important in the whole outfit. Actually very important; it provides the collar and cuffs. Those are two things I pay the most attention . Most shirts have terrible collars not high enough too cut-away in a ridiculous and quite pointless fashion. Cuffs that are too narrow; not long enough.
If you could find RTW shirts that satisfy those two main criteria: collars and cuffs then the fit could be adjusted by your tailor for a very small fee.
Going bespoke makes only sense to me when all your clothing is made in that fashion. To put it another way. If I could afford to make all my clothes bespoke I would certainly order only bespoke shirts. In all other cases : to order a few bespoke shirts while wearing RTW the rest of the time seems to me like pointless, aspirational exercise.
 

johnapril

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Off the peg I'm a 17 neck but a 16 shoulder. Plus I live in America, where high-end dress shirts off the peg are sized for fat men. I'm not fat. The typical alterations (darting) don't solve the issue of fit. Therefore I go with made to measure.
 

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