During my last visit to Carmel, Jim Ockert was kind enough to give me two items from his quickly expanding private label to test run and review. The first was this oxford cloth button down collar shirt from one of his shirting lines. It is from his more casual and youthful line, which includes these washed oxford cloth shirts in a rainbow of colors. Before trying it on I was slightly hesitant; I have become spoiled with made-to-measure shirts and rarely wear alpha sized (S/M/L) shirts anymore as they often don’t fit my thin build and long arms well. This shirt was marked as a size small but Jim assured me that it was a very wearable and comfortable fit. He was right.
The shirt is made of a light “spring-weight” oxford cloth from Japan that is surprisingly smooth and more visually interesting than most oxford cloths I’ve come across. This line of shirts is also garment washed so that the fabric is already exceptionally soft and is done shrinking. It is manufactured in New England by the well-known (and aptly named) New England Shirt Company. The garment is well constructed and has many of the standard signs of high quality – split yoke, single needle stitching, and luxurious fabric.
The collar is a very soft, lightly-lined, unfused button-down; at 2.75″ it is slightly shorter than the classic Brooks Brothers collar. For this reason it will not have a “roll” that is so heavily pronounced. This is not a major concern for me but may be a dealbreaker for a select few. It looks great with a knit tie but I generally wear it without.
At the end of the day, though, the fit is the most important. Fortunately, this shirt fits much better than any other alpha-sized garment I own. Of course, that won’t be the case for everyone but it is certainly true for me. To me, the fit is reminiscent of GANT Rugger’s “Hugger” fit – slim (but not skinny) through the sides, slightly shorter but still tuck-in-able body length, and trim sleeves. Unlike the Hugger fit, though, this shirt does not have an absurdly small yoke that creates tightness in the shoulders. It is exceptionally comfortable but still slim enough to be flattering.
Of course, the shirt is not cheap, given the high-end fabric and American construction. However, the price point puts it right in the range of brands like GANT and gives a much higher level of construction and material quality while still offering a youthful cut and a broken in look. Those that are looking for a more traditional office shirt may want to look at Khakis’ other shirting line, which offers high-quality neck-and-sleeve shirts in traditional fabrics and styles. However, if you’re already spending $100 or more on dress shirts and are looking for a great casual option that is also high-quality, I can’t think of anything better than these. It fits me better than most of my MTM shirts and the fabric is wonderful. I’ve worn it every week for the past month and I’m considering getting another.
Hopefully Jim’s private line will join his online store soon, but in the meantime these are available in several colors at the Khaki’s of Carmel store. If you’d really like to learn more but don’t live in the Bay Area then give Jim’s store a call and he can take care of you.