05 December 2011

The Holiday Shirt

The results are in on my most recent foray into the world of so-called "online custom" tailoring, and this time they are relatively favorable. I have to say I'm mostly pleased with the execution of my idea for a dress shirt for holiday parties:
Bright red tartan with a spread collar and French cuffs. Unconventional, of course. But when any maker's size 15 1/2 x 33 shirt fits reasonably well, as it does me, there's no point in having something as mundane as a white shirt made. I plan on wearing this with an emblematic or simple striped tie, grey flannel trousers, and either navy blazer or tweed jacket for festive occasions. I'd say something like "Christmas parties", but having two kids and working night hours in retail, the holiday season rarely has anything to do with parties and celebrations for me (Scrooge).

When ordering the shirt, the first line of questioning involves height, weight and general body type.  Following that is a more detailed set of measurements. In each case, a guess is entered for you, and I was surprised to note that in every case the guess was within a 1/2 inch of my entry. So far, so good.

Choosing fabric is always the hardest part with these things. Actually touching the fabric from which your garment will be produced beforehand is a key step in the actual custom process, sorely lacking in the online experience. It will always be a gamble. In this particular case I won, with a nice mid weight cotton poplin.

The shirt was delivered in just over two weeks, lickety split. That's kinda crazy, but true.

This thing fits me beautifully. The eight button front and extra long tails insure it won't come untucked. The collar is rigid and slightly high, as an English style spread should be. The French cuffs fit close without being restrictive. The buttons are pretty good, maybe not top notch, and the pattern matching in places, particularly the sleeve plackets, leaves a pinch to be desired. The button holes are stitched in white, where a color better matching the pattern such as red would have been preferred. Then again, had I paid for it the shirt would only have cost $54, cheapest I've seen yet for something like this, and cheaper by far than many ready made options. I guess that makes this a bargain, especially when one considers what Ralph will sell you for $165.
And you thought my shirt was way out of bounds. At least it's not pleated. Though I will freely admit that if there were any chance at all I'd be donning the black tie for any reason this month, I'd be lusting after this one, too. But I bet I'd have Tailor4Less make me one for $54 before I'd pay that kind of scratch. To be sure, an atrocious waste of money in either case, but a fella can dream, can't he?

Now all I need is a good party or two to attend. Anyone want to move their bash from Friday or Saturday to a Monday or Tuesday night when I'm not working late? (lousy retail Christmas season...grumble, grumble).


Anonymous said...

By gum, that's a decent shirt.

Zach said...


Got this one from Rugby. I enjoy it with tweed and a knit or emblematic tie. Can't say I'd do french cuffs with it though, but then again I hate french cuffs period.

Young Fogey said...

That's a plaid tuxedo shirt by Ralph? Ick.

I'm cool with rule bending and even rule breaking with suits and other casual wear, but you mess with black tie's rules at your own peril. Part of why men look so good in black tie is the contrast between the black and the white. Take that away, and all you're left with is a dark blob underneath your chin.

Can't wait to see your new shirt in action.

Anonymous said...

Black and white contrast? What are men? Zebras? Pandas? Worse still, penguins?

Anonymous said...

The red shirt is very nice looking. I would put it under a navy cashmere v-neck sweater, and grey slacks.

Young Fogey said...

Anonymous, I suggest you take to heart the opening words at The Black Tie Guide:

"'For a man, no other form of dress is as steeped in such a ritualistic sense of propriety as formal wear. There is something so elegant about the simplicity of black and white, with its stark contrast and lack of pattern, that when the elements are properly put together, they present a man at his most debonair.'
--Clothes and the Man

"Considering that black tie began as dining attire for Victorian aristocrats its longevity and ongoing popularity have been nothing short of astonishing.

"It is almost inconceivable that such a regulated and formal dress code has managed to withstand the informal dressing and casual manners effected by two World Wars, a counterculture revolution and GenX infantilism. Yet the classic tuxedo has not only survived more than one hundred years of adversity but has evolved into an icon of male elegance in the process. Its allure has been immortalized by some of the best dressers of the twentieth century from bon vivants Cole Porter and Noel Coward, to suave hipsters Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra to the fictional playboy superspy, James Bond."

Anonymous said...

Young Fogey: I can only assume you live in the US (not that that in and of itself is a bad thing). Try reading some Alan Bennett. Or try Peter Cook.

Anonymous said...

@yf. Is this a joke? "take to heart" what is cited in the black tie guide? What do you read at bedtime? Alan Flusser or some other total nincompoop? Now, write out at least a hundered lines of "I must Read G's blog over and over again" and please do try to be a little original.

Pancho said...

As someone who has worked retail at Christmas time, you have my deepest sympathies. I like the shirt, too. I think I might be tempted to try this service, someday. Is it wrong I kind of like the Ralph Lauren shirt, too? (I didn't realize it was a tuxedo shirt.)

Young Fogey said...


If you want to wear something ludicrous when the occasion calls for black tie, go right ahead--no one's stopping you. Everyone will have a good laugh at your expense.


The RL shirt is nice enough--if you were to remove the pleats and never, ever wear it with black tie. Too dark for my tastes, but I'm sure some guys could make it work.

Anonymous said...

YF - you really to visit England. I know you harken back to Victorian days but the country has changed a lot. Please do feel free to be hidebound to your "rules" but good Englishmen (of which I am one), know that "rools is fer fools". I expect that probably is not the case wherever you live ( I am assuming somewhere other than a major metropolitan centre such as NYC, Chicago, Boston etc., although I may well be wrong of course), but really you need to get out a wee bit more. Sorry, it has to be said. Sam

Anonymous said...

Fogey of the younger form: You do realise that us Brits (who according to your style bible "invented" the whole shebang), wear waistcoats and cummerbunds to liven up the whole black tie thing?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, forgot to add that you should take a gander at this link:


Young Fogey said...


There is a feature for leaving your name in the comments. It's a lot easier to have a conversation with someone who has a moniker.

"rools is fer fools" is exactly the sort of postmodernist nonsense that I disagree with. Rule exist for a reason, and while some can be bent and even broken, we do so at our own risk.

It's one thing to know a rule and to break it for a specific reason. It's another entirely to be ignorant of the rules, or why they exist, in the first place.

While I appreciate your concern over my apparent cloistering, please be assured that I do get out plenty. That doesn't mean I have to like what I see.

Anyway, please go right ahead and wear a lovely buttoned-up-to-the-throat pink vest (from your link) with your evening wear. Maybe you can wear matching socks and a long necktie while you're at it! I'm sure you'll look about as good as the typical American teenager going to his prom.

Metcarfre said...

Speaking of holiday dress, fortuitously the hunter green wool knit tie I ordered from Giuseppe arrived the other day in time for my work's Christmas party tonight. I'm wearing it simply with a white OCBD, black jeans, and a simple but knotty gray Harris tweed jacket. Thanks!

Philip said...

To the Brits,

It's one thing to add an odd waistcoat or cummerbund. It's another to stray from the white shirt. One's a fun touch that preserves the overall class of the look (I have a wonderful burgundy silk cummerbund for said purposes), while the other compromises the whole. Wear an odd jacket or cummerbund, or waistcoat, but for heaven's sake, don't wear a coloured shirt.


Philip said...

Also, I should point out that most of the waistcoats there (on your link) are morning, not evening, waiscoats. They are much too high-cut to be otherwise (except for two at the bottom).

Claude said...

Remember the tartan formal shirt with the white bib, now THAT kills it. I dig the new shirt too. I would wear the blackwatch shirt w/my shawl collar tux to dress it down some, much as has been suggested a blogger I read.

One thing I sense about Young Fogey is that he knows the rules, and he is paying attention. The man can have his opinion, let's not lose track of that.

Young Fogey said...

Thank you, Philip and Claude.

The neat thing about the tartan shirt with the white bib is that the tartan is never exposed. No one around the wearer will suspect it is anything other than a regular formal shirt--as long as the gentleman wearing it keeps his jacket on (which one must always do with black tie). It's something fun for the wearer and his most intimate circle, not for the world at large.

Anonymous said...

Ooh, all you rule stickler types,, a question. What about G's tats? That's surely not in the rules.

Young Fogey said...

G's tattoos have been discussed. You'll find the relevant posts and comments in his archives.