Online Shirt Experiment and Review [Part One]
I am in need of some new dress shirts because a number of the shirts in my regular rotation are starting to show some wear. I decided to take the opportunity to review and experiment with two popular online made-to-measure dress shirt purveyors, Modern Tailor and My Tailor.
Before ordering shirts, both sites require that you create an account. You then have the option to select from standard-sized shirts, or to provide measurements of your body or of your best fitting dress shirt. Alternatively, you may mail your best fitting shirt (to China for Modern Tailor or to California for My Tailor) for them to measure.
I elected to use current body measurements. Both sites provide illustrations to guide your assistant through the measuring process. To create a profile, both sites require that you provide height and weight plus measurements of the neck, chest, waist, hips, shoulder, sleeve, wrist and shirt length. My Tailor additionally requests your standard jacket and trouser waist sizes. Modern Tailor additionally requests a bicep measurement and armhole size.
At Modern Tailor the first step in the shirt creation process is selection of a fabric. You can filter fabrics by price, color, pattern, material, threadcount, or collection. I find a lot of their fabrics to be very loud and unappealing. The quite random organization of the fabric also forces a lot of browsing through many pages of swatches. However, the interface does include one very nice feature. If you click on a fabric swatch the site brings up a window showing photographs of shirts made from that fabric. This really helps in determining the scale of the pattern in a particular swatch. Modern Tailor’s fabric naming convention is helpful, especially on wilder patterns, because the name informs you of all the colors that are present in the fabric.
After selecting a fabric you then are able to design the shirt. You may choose among nineteen collar styles. A contrast collar costs an additional five dollars. You then choose from among fifteen cuff styles. Contrast cuffs are an additional five dollars, and a contrasting fabric inside the collar and cuff may be had for another ten dollars. There are five pocket options and three options for monogram style and location. There is no provision for placement at the waist, my preferred location for a monogram. The only three options for monogram placement are left pocket, left cuff and bottom placket. You can select from among twelve monogram colors. Monograms are an additional five dollars. There are three options for placket style (the placket is the layer of fabric that holds the buttons and buttonholes). The shirt may be converted to a tuxedo style for ten more dollars. The yoke may be split (recommended for herringbone and striped fabrics) for an additional five dollars. You may select from twenty-seven different buttons. Mother-of-pearl buttons are another five dollars. Colored button threads and colored buttonholes are five dollars each. There are three fit options: normal, slim and loose. There are four options for back style and another four options for the style of the tail of the shirt.
After much perusing, I finally decided on a blue and white striped fabric called France Blue and White (pictured). It is two ply cotton with an 80s thread count with a base price of $69.95. While designing my own shirt, I felt like I was being nickled and dimed to death by all of the upgrade options. I ended up going with the split yoke and mother-of-pearl button upgrades. Total price before shipping was $79.95. Shipping was an additional ten dollars. Luckily I had a coupon that knocked off twenty dollars so my grand total was $69.95.
I found that I prefer the organization of the fabrics at My Tailor. The fabrics are broken down into categories based on the quality of the fabric (blends, single-ply cotton, two-ply superfine cotton, etc). These quality categories are further broken down by pattern (solid, stripes, checks). Those pattern categories are then narrowed even further (i.e. classic check, fancy check, etc). This organization makes it very easy to hone in on the fabric that you desire. Fabrics that catch your eye can be saved for later in a wish list. I liked so many of the My Tailor fabrics that I found it difficult to narrow my selection; there are currently nineteen fabrics saved in my wish list. It also appears that My Tailor has a wider selection of fabrics than Modern Tailor. The downside to the My Tailor interface is that, unlike Modern Tailor, you cannot see a finished shirt made out of the fabric swatches so you are left somewhat guessing about the scale of the pattern. And the names of the fabrics, like mystic river and taxicab, are not particularly helpful in determining the colors in a swatch.
The design process at My Tailor is quite similar to the one at Modern Tailor. You may choose from fifteen different collar styles, including two with eyelets for pinned collars (a classic style that I sometimes choose to wear). There are nine cuff styles to choose from. Unlike Modern Tailor, there is no additional charge for contrasting collar or cuffs. You may choose from three pocket styles, four placket styles, and four back styles. You may choose from six monogram styles (block letters being my favorite) in sixteen different colors. Monograms may be placed at the cuff, chest, bottom tail, stomach, label area or inside the collar band. Unlike Modern Tailor, there is no charge for monograms.
I decided to order two shirts from My Tailor. Both are classic checks from the two-ply superfine cotton collection. The first is a dark lilac and white fancy check. I chose a white English cut away collar and French cuffs. The base price on that shirt is $79.00. The other shirt is a larger check in grape and white with a classic spread collar and two-button cuffs. That one is $75.00. I was tempted by the fabric options to order more than two shirts, but I will wait to check fit and quality before ordering any more. The shipping charge is five dollars per shirt. My Tailor adds another six dollars per shirt for duty charges. Grand total from My Tailor is $176.00 which averages out to $88.00 per shirt. Before the coupon the Modern Tailor shirt was going to cost $89.95 so it appears the products from these two companies are competitively priced (although the contrast collar and monograms that I ordered on the My Tailor shirts would have cost extra from Modern Tailor).
I placed shirt orders with both Modern Tailor and My Tailor on August 1. I am curious to test the speed of manufacture and delivery; it will be interesting to see which package arrives first. I supplied identical measurements to both companies, and I am curious to test the respective fit of the shirts. I am also interested to test the quality of the fabric and construction. Expect future reports after the packages arrive.