What Is So Special About Having A Custom Shirt?

Custom Shirts Are Made For You

This is a very good question especially when we travel the local malls and see the plethora of dress shirts, casual shirts and specialty dress/casual shirts. What is so special about having a custom shirt? Aren’t they just expensive shirts like they sell at these malls?

Shirts That You Can Design
Shirts That You Can Design

Well, let’s begin with an overview of the history of dress shirts. The dress shirts of today had their start as mere undershirts and it wasn’t until just over 140 years ago that they acquired buttons all the way down the front. You were considered wealthy to even have your shirts cleaned frequently let alone have enough shirts to change regularly as well as wear white shirts! As collars go, the turndown collars we have today didn’t even become popular until the 1930’s. Before that, it was the upturned collar. Do you remember seeing collars that were detachable? (I vaguely remember them from Laurel and Hardy movies). These collars could be washed separately from the shirts and the shape could be varied. As of the end of World War I, dress shirts that we have now, have not changed much except for the addition of a breast pocket.

Ok, that’s all great history to know I’m still wearing undershirts and everything. But, what is the difference in what I get at the mall versus a custom shirt?

Let’s look at some characteristics of a custom shirt. First, every good shirt will have removable collar bones or stays. Those are those thingys in the collar points that your always losing or the dry cleaner is always stealing. These help the points of the collar from turning up and give the collar the right curve.

Next, patterns will always match. Take a look at the seam at the shoulder of a striped or checked shirt. On a well-made custom shirt, the patterns will connect and match exactly.

I think one of the most important qualities or characteristic is in the stitching. Custom made shirts always have single-needle stitching. This provides a precise seam and the material does not become wavy after washing. Off-the-rack shirts use double-needle stitching, which is more for high production than high quality.

Ever wonder why shirts are always coming untucked and looking like your wearing your wife’s blouse? Custom made shirts are made long enough in back to prevent this look.

Buttons on custom shirts can vary, but the best are Mother-of-pearl. These are so hard that they can even break a needle of a sewing machine.

One last quality is the sleeve and cuff. The sleeve will be pleated several times where it meets the cuff and there is a small button above the cuff. The best shirts will have hand sewn buttonholes.

Is that it you say? Might you have seen some of these qualities at the local mall?

Ok, ok, so what is the big difference? You do know that everything that is in the malls is massed produced, right? What do you think are the odds of getting a shirt that fits just you? The manufacturers are counting on you to believe that one size really does fit all.


“It sure would be nice to have at least one shirt that fit right!” This was said recently by an exasperated new client about his “mall” shirts. Next time your out and about, take a look at the guy walking down the street (or at the mall) and see how he looks in his shirt. Are the sleeves too short or too long? Does it look like he’s wearing his wife’s dress around his waist? Is his collar choking him or swallowing his face?

Here is what we do at Hamilton Douglass. After calming you down about “mall” shirts, we sit you down and get to know you and what you are looking for in a shirt. (when has a sales clerk ever got to know you?) While we are still discussing you and your habits and likes and dislikes we are now measuring you 8 to 10 different ways. It’s such an enjoyable experience, it’s over before you know we started.

Ok, that was the easy part. Now the fun part is looking over the 100’s of samples of high quality, 100% Cotton in a variety of colors and textures. This, of course, is with our expert guidance of matching the right fabric and color for you.

Yeah, yeah you say. So, somebody paid more attention to me than when I was in diapers! Ah, but wait, in 4 – 6 weeks you will have a present waiting for you. That most awesome dress shirt that you’ve ever worn is just waiting for you, and you probably forgot all about it. Or you may have been marking off the days on the calendar, just hoping it would get there.


You finally come to pick up your soon to be favorite dress shirt. You are presented with The Box. It’s opened and there all wrapped up for you is the shirt in the fabric and color that YOU picked out and YOU designed with the collar you always wanted and special trim on the inside! You can’t wait so you try it on right there and when you do, your new dress shirt just hugs you, like your wearing your own skin. It’s just loose enough in all the right places for YOU. The sleeves are in just the right place, the collar doesn’t choke you or swallow your face whole! And you wonder, is this how dress shirts are really supposed to look and feel.

So are Custom dress shirts a big deal? Yeah, they are that big of a deal. I didn’t even go into the types of fabric, I will save that for another time. But, yeah, it’s a big, big deal. Even if you are not all that fashion conscience you owe it to yourself to really find out what the big deal really is in a custom made dress shirt, just for YOU.

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