A Closer Look: Proper Cloth Dress Shirts

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while then you have probably seen me wear Proper Cloth shirts on many occasions; just browse through these old posts if you need a refresher. The online custom shirtmaking scene has become very crowded in the past couple of years, but Proper Cloth continues to be the one I return to after trying around a half dozen. I still get quite a few questions about the company though, so I thought I would expand on my experience a little bit.

Here’s why I like Proper Cloth: not only have they continued to improve their offerings and expand their design options over the years, but they have also made a great website that easily guides you through the design process. On top of that, the shirts are delivered quickly, well-made, and look good. The new products like popover shirts, soft collars, and seasonal fabrics are nicely complemented by a smooth website with lots of detailed information on their customization options. The design options and fabrics are plentiful but not overwhelming, and the majority of them are tasteful and would be easy to wear.

This isn’t to say that I think Proper Cloth is the only good online shirtmaker; there are many places to get a good custom shirt. One of the reasons I have stuck with them for this long is that I am comfortable with my sizing and my design details and don’t want to reinvent the wheel with someone else. If I tried a new shirtmaker I would need to start all of that from scratch, which is a pain. Buying custom clothing doesn’t work well unless you plan on having a lasting relationship with the company; trying to get one “perfect” item and moving on doesn’t really work. For that reason, I have stuck with a company I like and haven’t kept experimenting.

With that said, if I were to try a new custom shirtmaker today I would definitely look into Luxire. Although their site is a bit simpler and less sleek, they offer a very impressive product at an aggressive price (significantly lower than Proper Cloth for many fabrics). They also seem to have no boundaries on what you can order – collar designs can be specified in minute detail and there are a dizzying number of fabrics available. To me, this is a double-edged sword; if you know exactly what you want down to the quarter inch it can turn out quite well, but if you’re still trying to find what suits you best it can be overwhelming. Nonetheless, they’re a company that is making great shirts and have certainly grabbed my attention.

When it comes to sizing and measurement, the Proper Cloth site does a good job of explaining how their measurements are taken. My only advice is to round up instead of down, because some of their fabrics tend to shrink a bit more than they’re supposed to. Proper Cloth does account for some shrinkage in their measurements, but I have had some shirts that ended up just a little more snug than I anticipate due to shrinkage. Of course, erring on the large side is generally a safe idea regardless of the company, but I would recommend it here in particular.

Finally, a few words on design details, since I get so many questions on them: I use the President Spread collar for all of my dress shirts (those that I plan on generally wearing with a tie); although I would probably add ¼” to the point length if I was designing it from scratch, I find that it has enough length to frame my face well and the mild spread is handsome without looking too extreme. The shirt above (in a cotton-linen blend) features the unfused version of the President Spread, and it’s a great option for a slightly more casual shirt like the one above. On purely casual shirts I choose the Soft Ivy Button-Down; the 3.5″ unfused collar points are very reminiscent of the beautiful collar rolls we see in photographs of old-school Brooks Bros. collars. There are many other collar styles to choose from, but I find that these are probably the most classic options.

Beyond that, I generally choose shirt details to match the collar and fabric. For instance, if I have an unfused collar I will get unfused cuffs and plackets as well. I generally do not get a pocket unless I am getting a button-down collar. Finally, I often upgrade to mother-of-pearl buttons for that extra luxe touch; they certainly aren’t necessary, as the plastic ones are quite good, but I’m a sucker for a good button and Proper Cloth’s are no exception. The normal and thick ones are both fantastic.

Let me know if you have any questions that I didn’t address. If you’re interested in trying Proper Cloth, my referral link will get you $20 off your first shirt.