Ah, the perfect dress shirt. It's the white whale of men's fashion. When it comes to buying dress shirts, men basically have three options:
- Buy off the rack (OTR) from a department store or boutique
- Have shirts custom made for you by a local tailor
- Order Made-to-Measure shirts from an online retailer
Stay away from the first option. Department stores are overpriced, and most guys – especially short men – don't have an “off the rack” body type (if there even is such a thing).
The second alternative is great if you live near a good tailor, but it is generally the most expensive option. Bespoke shirts will probably run you at least $150 a piece. Of course, you will get measured, in person, by professional, so the shirt will fit perfectly.
The third option is the one we're going to talk about today. Online MTM “tailors” have been popping up left and right over the past few years. Some are better than others, but they are pretty much all cheaper than going to a local brick and mortar shop. Also, the shirts will definitely fit better than anything you find at the mall.
The big downfall of these online services is the measurement system. And by measurement system, I mean you, because you're required to give these stores your measurements. Since most of us don't even own the right kind of measuring tape and have no idea how to get the proper measurements, this can be problematic.
Note: I recommend either ordering tailor's tape from Amazon.
That said, all of these services have great, detailed, visual tutorials on how to get each measurement. If you have a friend that can help measure you, you will probably get more accurate numbers. Alternatively, most of these companies let you send in your favorite shirt for them to measure and copy.
Finally, don't worry to much about messing up your measurements by a half inch here or there. These online custom clothing sites have great refund and remake policies. You can always order one of their cheaper shirts to start out with, send it back until it's perfect, then update your measurement for future use.
Here are my favorite online made to measure clothiers, along with their price ranges:
- Modern Tailor – $59 to $79 (best prices, most options…review coming up soon)
- Blank Label – $75 to $145 (read my review of this shirt maker right here)
- Black Lapel – $99 to $179 (if you're in the NYC area, be sure to visit their showroom)
Do you have any experience with any of the above clothiers? Please share your experiences in the comments section so your fellow modest men know where to buy from and what to avoid.