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Solosso MTM Shirt Review

“Courtesy Of” is a series on This Fits in which I write about products that have been gifted to me for review. While I strive to be objective, I think it’s fairer to you, the readers, if I disclose when I’ve received merchandise for free.

Note: Be sure to check out the exclusive This Fits promo code at the end of this post.

I’ve developed a bit of a reputation for a boring shirt collection, especially after I shared a picture of my nearly-monotone closet here and on Facebook:

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Light blue shirts are the perennial favorites of #menswear enthusiasts everywhere, as they’re almost universally flattering and serve as reliable grounds for many jacket-tie pairings. When I started learning to dress well a few years ago, solid and striped blue shirts quickly formed the foundation of my wardrobe, as they’re hard to screw up.

All that blue can get boring and a bit formal, though, especially if—like me—you work in a more relaxed office environment where a sport coat is the upper limit of formality. As my taste and sense of style congeal, I’m finding that my wardrobe may benefit from more variety in my shirts.

So when Jan Klimo of Solosso approached me about reviewing one of their made-to-measure shirts, I decided to take the opportunity to venture out of my comfort zone and experiment with both color and pattern. 

A Swiss-Singaporean company, Solosso’s shirts are made in Thailand. With so many online MTM operations producing shirts in Asia, Solosso seeks to distinguish itself by emphasizing an ethos of corporate social responsibility. While that term is almost thoughtlessly bandied about in the corporate world these days, I get the sense that Solosso really means it—it guides the decisions they make about every aspect of their business, from where they source their raw materials, to how they compensate their workers, to how they ship their product. It’s an interesting angle, but I’m honestly not convinced that it’s compelling enough to sway very many men from one online MTM company to another. The deciding factor is typically value for money, as measured by how well Solosso stacks up against their competitors in making a high-quality shirt at an affordable price. I can’t really evaluate their sustainability practices, but I can say a thing or two about their shirts.

I opted for a brown and purple check in an 80s 2-ply Egyptian cotton. I almost never wear ties during the week, leaving my shirt collar open, so I selected an unfused button-down collar in the hopes that it would create a nice roll. When I ordered the shirt, an unfused collar was a special request, but Solosso has since introduced it as an option in the design stage.

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After choosing fabric and collar, it’s on to selecting your shirt details. Although I’m not  thin, I choose the slim cut and a darted back after consulting with Jan. I also went with a chest pocket since it’s a more casual shirt, and an “enhanced” tail since I intend to always tuck it in. I selected a split yoke back as a bit of a test for Solosso: when well-executed, it should allow the patterns to line up neatly at the shoulder seams. Some people also contend that a split yoke offers a better fit in the shoulders, but that seems to be an advantage only for bespoke, where a tailor can adjust the shirt by hand to the unique contours of a client’s body.  For their part, Solosso discounts the fit benefits of a split yoke and emphasizes the pattern-matching.

I requested a monogram, appreciating that Solosso lets you put one in the lower left above the belt line, my preferred position. To avoid previous bad decisions in regards to monogram thread color, I elected to go with “Match fabric” as the thread and let the tailor decide. Finally, Solosso allows and encourages custom requests in a notes area—along with the above-mentioned unfused collar, I also asked for longer collar points, hoping that would help enhance the collar roll.

As with most other online MTM companies, Solosso offers three methods of providing measurements: submitting body measurements, submitting measurements of a shirt that fits well, or sending in a shirt to be copied. As with previous online MTM companies, I opted to submit my own measurements. As always, I recommend having someone else measure you, rather than attempting to do it yourself. The measurements stage in Solosso’s ordering process is quite good, offering well-written descriptions and clear photos that show exactly how the measurement should be taken. Measurements can be entered in either centimeters or inches. I chose metric since I figured they’re a bit more precise, and perhaps the tailors in Thailand would be more familiar with them, but I’m not certain it mattered all that much. 

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That’s pretty much the entire order process. I got a shipment notification from Jan about two and a half weeks after placing my order. Shipping is free, and Solosso follows through on their commitment to sustainability by offsetting the carbon footprint of shipment through a partner organization. Shipped by DHL, the package left Thailand, routed through Europe, and arrived at my front door in just over three weeks. Thus, the total time from placing my order to delivery was almost six weeks. That seems a bit long compared to other online MTM companies I’ve dealt with, but it’s not the sort of thing I get upset over.

The packaging is the nicest I’ve seen from an online MTM shirt company: the overall impression is luxurious, no small feat given that the box is made with recycled paper.  The shirt is wrapped in crepe paper held closed with a wax seal, a detail I liked. My package included their standard stainless steel collar stays with the shirt, although I have no need for them with a button-down collar. They also gifted me a white linen pocket square, monogrammed and with plump hand-rolled edges. I’m not sure if this is standard for all first-time customers or special treatment for me as a blogger, but it certainly was a nice gesture.

The shirt itself certainly seems well-made: the fabric is crisp, the stitching very fine and straight, and there are the sort of little details you expect in a quality shirt, such as gusseted side seams. The mother-of-pearl buttons on my shirt are nice, but kind of thin. It’s funny, though—before I could even mentioned that to Jan, he contacted me and asked whether I thought they should use thicker mother-of-pearl buttons. Naturally I said yes, and a few weeks later, Solosso announced that they’re rolling out thicker mother-of-pearl buttons as standard for all shirts. Nice!

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I tried on the shirt after a wash. The slim fit isn’t too slim, so there’s no puckering or pulling under the arms or at the buttons. The sleeves, which I’ve messed up in the past on MTM shirts, are pretty close to ideal—maybe a half centimeter too long. I also wish the wrists were a bit tighter. These are nitpicks, though: overall the shirt fit very well, and it’s held up through several subsequent washes. I’m quite pleased.

I like how the collar rolls when the shirt is worn tieless, and as to with a tie … like Foo, I honestly have no idea what “good collar roll” is supposed to look like, so I’ll let you be the judge of that.

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As for my experiment with color and variety—while the shirt’s fabric is nice, I don’t think the pattern looks very good on me. The check is dense, resulting in a muted overall tone, especially from a few feet away. I’m probably more flattered by something with more of the white ground showing, such as a tattersall or graph check. That doesn’t change the fact that it’s a lovely shirt, though, and it’s found its way into my weekly rotation.

Solosso made-to-measure shirts start at $89. My shirt—made of 2-ply Egyptian cotton and with an optional monogram—would normally be $129. Given the quality and the fit of the shirt I received, I’d say that’s a fair price—and that’s to say nothing of the additional benefit one might place on working with a company that seems to sincerely emphasize social responsibility.

As it happens, Solosso is running a “Buy 2, Get 1 Free” special on their shirts through the end of this week, with promo code BUY2GET1FREE. That means you can get three made-to-measure shirts for as little as $59 each—a tremendous value, if you ask me.

If you don’t needthree shirts, Solosso is also offering a generous discount to all This Fits readers. Simply use promo code THISFITS for 25% off your order through the end of April.

To start designing your own custom shirt, visit www.solosso.com.

Review: Chester Mox Compact Bi-fold Wallet in Plum Museum Calf

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“Courtesy Of” is a series on This Fits in which I write about products that have been gifted to me for review. While I strive to be objective, I think it’s fairer to you, the readers, if I disclose when I’ve received merchandise for free.

When I was approached about reviewing a wallet for Chester Mox a couple months ago, I happily took up the offer as I’m already a satisfied customer. In fact, I’m a satisfied customer three times over.

I first purchased from Chester Mox two years ago after reading Derek’s positive reviews of the company. I’ve been so happy with wallet, over the course of the past year and a half I’ve bought two more as gifts for my brother and my mother.

Chester Mox was started three years ago as a small leather goods maker by the Salcedos, a husband-and-wife team based here in California. They source their leather from some of the finest tanneries in the world, including Ilcea, Horween, Wickett & Craig, and Tanneries Roux, and also offer custom orders in exotic skins like American alligator. Every wallet is made entirely by hand, including stitching, painting, burnishing, and buffing. Everything is made-to-order, and they welcome special requests beyond what’s offered through their site. For example, you can request any wallet model to be made up in any leather on their site—you’re not limited to the options on any given product page.

While each model has a prescribed spot to place a laser-etched personalization for an additional fee, you can also request a second personalization in place of the Chester Mox logo. This allows for a wallet that’s completely unbranded and doubly unique to the owner. That said, every time I order from Chester Mox I hesitate to exercise the option, since someone may want to know the origin and maker of the wallet long after the packaging’s gone. You also figure a smaller operation like Chester Mox could use all the publicity they can get. That said, I’ve always gone with the double personalization for all four wallets that I’ve ordered from Chester Mox.

My experience with Chester Mox over the past two years is uniformly positive. For my first purchase, the internets had convinced me of the merits of switching to a slim wallet, so I went with their dual side wallet in a burgundy calfskin. I typically carry nine cards in it—probably more than it was intended to hold, and kind of going against the “carry less” principle that slim wallets force you into. Nonetheless, the wallet is still holding up splendidly after two years of daily use. The stitching is still strong and unfrayed, and there’s no sign of imminent splits along the hand-painted edges. Furthermore, it somehow still maintains a slim profile, and the supple leather means I can even slip in a note or a few bills when needed.

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Emmett London: Review and Introduction

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Today, I’m happy to announce a new advertiser for This Fits: Emmett London.

Founded in 1992 in London’s Chelsea neighborhood by tailor Robert Emmett, the company has built a reputation for excellent ready-to-wear shirts made with high-quality materials. In 2006 Emmett London opened a shop on Jermyn Street, introducing a made-to-measure service and joining that thoroughfare’s storied list of retailers that represent some of the finest modern contributors to England’s rich menswear tradition.

Along with meticulous attention to detail, Emmett London’s well-known for the contrast fabric they use inside their shirts’ cuffs, as well as an appreciation for exclusivity: each shirt is produced in a limited run of 25 to 50 total.

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There’s a lot of hearsay on the Internet about where exactly their ready-to-wear shirts are made, so I made sure to have that cleared up by my contact at Emmett. Most Emmett London shirts are made in Germany, with the rest made in Poland, Switzerland, and Italy. They hold their manufacturers to high standards, and choose locations based on which is the best for a given fabric.

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Emmett London sent me a Slim fit sky blue shadow check shirt for review. They pride themselves on sourcing some of the finest material in the world, working exclusively with shirting mills in Italy and Switzerland. My shirt’s 55/45 cotton-linen fabric came from the fabled Thomas Mason mill in Albino, Italy. It’s lightweight and soft, with just a hint of linen’s signature nubbiness. Not surprisingly, it felt great to wear during a recent hot spell.

The stitching on the shirt is even and very fine; I counted roughly 18 stitches per inch on the side seams and 22 per inch at the cuffs (and went nearly cross-eyed doing so). The shirt features no handwork that I can tell (that’s generally considered the domain of the Neapolitans), and the side seams use twin needle stitching. However, Emmett does use single-needle stitching for their made-to-measure shirts.

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The collar of the shirt stands up well with or without a tie. Emmett London attaches the lining on the inside of the collar band, which helps keep the collar from splaying. The collars also have two sets of stiffeners, with one removable pair and a second sewn into the collar itself. Emmett London offers around 90 collar styles for their made-to-measure shirts, and rotates through about 20 of those styles for their ready-to-wear shirts.

The buttons on their shirts are made from Australian mother-of-pearl, cut from the thickest part of the shell for better durability. The cuff buttons are sewn in with a second buttonhole, allowing you to use cufflinks for the shirt if you’d like.

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Emmett London ready-to-wear shirts normally retail for as much as £125—nearly $200— but late last week their sale discounted shirts to as low as £47, or about $75 (including VAT discount for non-EU countries). Word is out about the sale, though, and it ends when stock runs out, so be sure to visit Emmett London now.

Albert Ming Arctic Shirt Review

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“Courtesy Of” is a series on This Fits in which I write about products that have been gifted to me for review. While I strive to be objective, I think it’s fairer to you, the readers, if I disclose when I’ve received merchandise for free.

I don’t jump at every request for a product review, even when a brand graciously offers to send a free sample. My sartorial interests lie firmly in classic men’s style, and I try to focus on fair reviews of items that showcase a brand’s greatest strengths while representing a good value to this site’s readers. If I don’t think a review can do that, I will decline the offer, and even go so far as to return samples that are sent my way.

So when Albert Ming first approached me about reviewing their Arctic Shirt in navy, I was inclined to politely turn down the request. Based in Berkeley, Albert Ming specializes in clothes for what they call a “tech-crazy, hyper-busy" lifestyle, fusing fashion with function for tailored garments that have the high-tech performance characteristics of athletic clothes. This means waterproof suits, or in the case of the sample they offered, a cotton shirt with hundreds of 1/16-inch holes for more comfort on hot days.

While I’m all for companies seeking to rehabilitate high-tech’s reputation for terrible sartorial taste, the premise of these specialty garments seems at worst like solving problems that no one has—when do you ever really need a waterproof suit?—and at best a bit gimmicky and of questionable taste. Much of the audience of This Fits is men just learning the basics of dressing well, and I know many of my early, expensive regrets revolved around mistaking garish showiness for sartorial maturity. I believe great style for most men downplays the clothing and highlights the man—pretty much the opposite of gimmicks—and the idea of a perforated mesh shirt is far removed from what I consider to be good taste.

So I sat on Albert Ming’s request for about five days before a peculiar thought crossed my mind: Why not?

Classic tailored menswear isn’t the whole story when it comes to great style, and while Albert Ming’s products may not inspire the awe of really great high fashion, they do offer a unique perspective. So I agreed to the request, while being up front about my reservations, saying “To be honest, I’m a bit skeptical of the concept. However, I’m open to being surprised.”

And I was surprised.

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Lands’ End and the Casual Suit

“Courtesy Of” is a series on This Fits in which I write about products that have been gifted to me for review. While I strive to be objective, I think it’s fairer to you, the readers, if I disclose when I’ve received merchandise for free.

Update: Hi, Valet Readers! Thanks to the folks at Valet for the mention.

See the "Courtesy Of" tag for more reviews, and be sure to subscribe by RSS or follow me on Tumblr.

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A zipper is the last thing I expect to write about in a suit review, to say nothing of mentioning it in the opening sentence. But the zipper is a bit unusual on the trousers of the Tailored Fit Supernatural Wool suit that Lands’ End sent me, and it’s a detail that offers insight into the character of the garment.

The zipper, you see, is thick and sturdy, made by YKK. Although this shows Lands’ End didn’t cut corners by going with cheap zippers, that’s not unusual in and of itself. No, what’s strange is that the zipper is there at all. Larger and more substantial than any zipper on any tailored trousers that I’ve encountered, it’s the sort of detail you’d expect if I were reviewing premium denim, rugged outerwear or duffle bags—in other words, not the kind of zipper typically seen on a suit.

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I mentioned the zipper to Lands’ End Men’s Design Director J Henley last week. “Menswear relies on details and nuances,” he observed. “Subtlety is rarely lost on a discerning consumer. I like to look beyond the obvious like fabric, color, pattern and fit and focus on details that are often overlooked, or are the first place to cut costs from a garment. In this case, the heavier zipper slider was a result of my disdain for small coil zippers on trousers. I wanted something masculine and a bit stronger.”

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Courtesy Of: Tailor4Less Made-to-Measure Shirt
"Courtesy Of" is a series on This Fits in which I write about products that have been gifted to me for review. While I strive to be objective, I think it’s fairer to you, the readers, if I disclose when I’ve received merchandise for free.
Confession time: I recently donated two of my three online made-to-measure shirts to Goodwill—and I don’t really wear the third. While the donated shirts were still in great condition, the truth is they didn’t fit me very well. The sleeves were too short, causing the cuffs to ride up when I bent my arm. They were also far too short in the body, frequently coming untucked.
That’s the ironic gotcha about online MTM: something that should theoretically offer a better fit than off-the-rack clothing often doesn’t. It’s not a quality issue inherent with online MTM companies, but rather a customer issue—it’s really, really easy to get the measuring process wrong, especially when you try to measure yourself. And even if you’re spot-on in taking measurements, the retailer can only do so much to prevent you from making really dumb decisions, like asking for a shirt a good five or six inches shorter than it should be (yeah, I don’t know what I was thinking, either).
So when Tailor4Less asked me to review a complimentary made-to-measure shirt, I was appreciative but apprehensive. Sure, the “free” part means I lose nothing if the shirt ends up being a disaster—but a terrible review shirt does nothing to tell you, the readers, if it’s worth parting with your hard-earned cash for a Tailor4Less shirt. You’d have no idea if Tailor4Less has a bad service (spoiler: they don’t), or if I screwed up, doing a disservice to both Tailor4Less and you.
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Anyways, enough with the hand-wringing. This is the fairly boring shirt design I went with. It’s tempting when you first start trying online MTM to load up on flashy features because, well, you can. I know I did at first. Heaven forbid someone mistaken my shirt for something bought off-the-rack. In the case of my first three MTM shirts, going full sprezzy resulted in the annoying (French cuffs, which I find too fussy), silly (purple-on-pink cuff monogram), or downright garish (purple buttons on a pink shirt).
So for your first online MTM shirt, I strongly suggest keeping it understated and simple, like I did. Spread or buttondown collar, one collar button, single-button barrel cuffs (like cufflinks, I find two-button cuffs fussy). I went with no chest pocket, since I wanted a dressier shirt. But not too dressy, so a standard placket (as opposed to a French front).
I did allow for a few rather tame indulgences. I went for “cut” (mitered) cuffs, a dressier feature. I also opted for no pleats in the back for a trimmer fit in the shoulders.
I have two critiques of the design features available. First, there’s no detailed explanation of the difference between the three different fits (“Waisted”,”Normal”, and “Loose”). I’ve got about 10 extra pounds of weight on me, and it would’ve been nice to know if the “Waisted” option would be too restrictive, or the “loose” option too billowy (I chose “Waisted,” for what it’s worth). Second, one can’t add darts to the back of the shirt. I’m personally on the fence about whether or not darts belong on men’s shirts, but it would be nice to have the option.
The fabric selection is pretty good: over 120 options as of this writing. I appreciate that fabrics can be filtered by “color tone”, texture, and season, but the filters for “fabric type” could use some clarification. Specifically, I had to email to ask what “easy care” fabric is. Apparently it’s material “you don’t need to iron” — which makes me wonder how it’s different from the “Wrinkle free” fabric. In any case, I finally settled on “New River,” a checked fabric that appears icy blue, my favorite shirt color.
Under customization, I stayed away from overly showy features like contrast fabric for sleeves and cuffs, or colored threads for buttons and buttonholes. I did go for a monogram. While some people find them universally in poor taste, I think they’re alright if steps are taken to keep them understated. In this case, I appreciated that Tailor4Less allows for putting the monogram a few inches above the belt line, a placement I haven’t seen at other online MTM shops (in case you’re wondering, it’s the “Medium” Embroider position). To further de-emphasize it, I picked white thread for the monogram, which I expected to blend in with the white ground of the shirt’s checked fabric. It’s a decision I regret … more on that later.
I was a bit surprised to find that that’s the extent of customization available. Tailor4Less’s competitors let you pick the color, thickness, and material of the shirt buttons, as well as the option to have removable collar stays. But maybe that’s okay, because it keeps schmucks like me from making dumb choices like purple buttons.
Where Tailor4Less really shines is the measurement process. As I noted in the introduction to this post, that’s the Achilles’ heel for most online MTM. As long as it’s in the customer’s hands, I doubt measuring will ever be as accurate as an in-person visit with a tailor or measurement specialist. That said, the Tailor4Less measurement system is both thoughtful and thorough, clearly erring on the side of hand-holding to ensure customer-entered measurements are as precise as possible.

It starts by asking for the customer’s height, weight, age, and build. The latter is handled cleverly, using body type illustrations and a slider—a smart decision since leaving it as a discrete choice would probably have most people making their best guess between two options. From there, you’re given a list of suggested measurements, presumably based on their database of customer profiles.
One can opt to just go with the suggested measurements (which I found to be pretty close), but more-exacting customers can measure themselves. Again, clever interface design helps ensure that the measuring process is done as accurately as possible. Where I’ve seen other sites simply say something like “measure to preferred sleeve length,” Tailor4Less  asks you to “measure along the arm to the start of the thumb.” And since there’s probably some confusion as to where exactly the “start of the thumb” is, Tailor4Less offers helpful pictures and even a video for each measurement. Again pulling on their database of customer profiles, they offer a precise “suggested” number for each measurement that sits on a draggable slider. You can actually manually enter a value that sits outside the slider (which I had to do for one measurement), but the range is a good check for whether you’ve really mis-measured something. Smart design, Tailor4Less.

Sidenote: even with all these fool-proofing features in place, I strongly suggest having someone else take your measurements (shout-out to my ever-patient and accommodating wife).
That’s it as far as the measuring and ordering process goes. Tailor4Less ships free worldwide, and promises delivery two weeks from the day you submit your order. My shirt arrived faster, in just 10 days. I’m not sure that I received special treatment since the shirt was gratis in exchange for a review, but from reading around the web, it seems others have experienced similar turnaround times.
So how did the shirt turn out? After a wash, pretty good—here’s me wearing it in my tailor’s dressing room:

The sleeve length is pefect—at my wrist when buttoned and down to the crook of my thumb and index finger when unbuttoned. The cuffs feature two horizontal buttons, which I thought was a bit odd—you figure a MTM shirt would have the precise wrist measurement, to say nothing of expecting just one button when you specify “single-button cuffs”. I appreciate it, though, since it allows my left cuff to accomodate my watch. I would have appreciated a bit more room in the bicep, a bit more taper in the waist, and a cleaner front in general, but that’s getting nit-picky—this is now the best-fitting shirt I own.
I’m hardly the most qualified person to talk about construction, but it seems fair, with even stitching throughout. The collar is fused and a bit stiff for my taste, and I wasn’t too thrilled that it included non-removable stays. I did like that the front has eight buttons, where most of my shirts only have seven. It’s a nice feature that helps ensure the shirt stays tucked in.

The monogram is expertly done and appears to be hand-stitched, but I wish I’d picked a different thread color. Instead of appearing subtle, the white thread on icy blue fabric actually looks like an obtuse sewing job from a distance; as if I’d torn the shirt and clumsily tried to repair the hole myself. Despite protestations to the contrary, I think monograms are meant to be seen (even if not right away), and they’re certainly not meant to look like a rip. I should have picked a navy thread instead. I can live with that, but it just goes to show that even a good online MTM service like Tailor4Less can’t completely protect customers from making their own dumb decisions.
So caveat emptor here applies more to the customer than the seller. In fact, I’d say Tailor4Less offers a good value for their made-to-measure shirts, especially given the low starting price of 38 euros (around $50).

Courtesy Of: Tailor4Less Made-to-Measure Shirt

"Courtesy Of" is a series on This Fits in which I write about products that have been gifted to me for review. While I strive to be objective, I think it’s fairer to you, the readers, if I disclose when I’ve received merchandise for free.

Confession time: I recently donated two of my three online made-to-measure shirts to Goodwill—and I don’t really wear the third. While the donated shirts were still in great condition, the truth is they didn’t fit me very well. The sleeves were too short, causing the cuffs to ride up when I bent my arm. They were also far too short in the body, frequently coming untucked.

That’s the ironic gotcha about online MTM: something that should theoretically offer a better fit than off-the-rack clothing often doesn’t. It’s not a quality issue inherent with online MTM companies, but rather a customer issue—it’s really, really easy to get the measuring process wrong, especially when you try to measure yourself. And even if you’re spot-on in taking measurements, the retailer can only do so much to prevent you from making really dumb decisions, like asking for a shirt a good five or six inches shorter than it should be (yeah, I don’t know what I was thinking, either).

So when Tailor4Less asked me to review a complimentary made-to-measure shirt, I was appreciative but apprehensive. Sure, the “free” part means I lose nothing if the shirt ends up being a disaster—but a terrible review shirt does nothing to tell you, the readers, if it’s worth parting with your hard-earned cash for a Tailor4Less shirt. You’d have no idea if Tailor4Less has a bad service (spoiler: they don’t), or if I screwed up, doing a disservice to both Tailor4Less and you.

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Courtesy Of: Lands’ End Silk Wool Tie and Silk Sunburst Neat Pocket Square
“Courtesy Of” is a series on This Fits in which I write about products that have been gifted to me. While I strive to be objective, I think it’s fairer to you, the readers, if I disclose when I’ve received merchandise for free.
The folks at Lands’ End recently sent me a generous collection of their Fall/Winter menswear offerings, select items that they feel proud about. Today I’m featuring two of those samples: the Silk Wool Necktie in Peat Maroon and the Silk Sunburst Neat Pocket Square.
In his book Gentleman: A Timeless Guide to Fashion, Bernhard Roetzel writes that how a tie feels when you first handle it is a good indication of the quality. He concedes that it’s a somewhat ambiguous standard, but counsels “if you like what you feel, you are probably right to go ahead and buy the necktie.”
I happen to like the feel of this tie, a 55/45 silk/wool blend, and the quality seems comparable to other Lands’ End ties (typically on par with Brooks Brothers or Polo).

The fabric has a good weight and nice fuzzy fall/winter hand. The interlining is stiffer than the Drake’s London ties I own, but still supple enough to easily knot up with a dimple. It’s a bit thick—a good thing for a wool tie, I’d say—so the first time I tied it, I had trouble with my usual double four-in-hand knot, opting for a standard four-in-hand instead. Even with just one loop, it makes for a thick knot that fills the triangle of a collar nicely.
Lands’ End touts that the tie is “hand sewn.” I won’t pretend to recognize hand sewing on a tie—I don’t know where to look, and even if I did, Roetzel shows a machine in his book that can mimic the supposedly telltale irregularities of hand sewing. So I pressed Lands’ End on what exactly “hand sewn” means. They shared a response from their tie maker, based in Long Island City, New York with over 40 years’ experience in neckwear (the tie is made in China):




The key aspect of the handmade tie is that the shell fabric is carefully wrapped around the interlining, and then stitched from the outside by a skilled hand-sewer, who can adjust the pattern for straightness, relax the fabric when needed for perfect drape, and sew the lining to the fabric with a very delicate attachment.
This is the opposite of a machine-made tie, which is laid on a template (which precludes any individual adjustment), and then is sewn inside out, with the needle slamming through both fabric and interlining on every pass, before the tie needs to be turned inside out and repressed.  It’s often said in the industry that a true English Repp should never be made by machine, as the turning process breaks up the finish of the fabric.”





It’s much easier to pick out the machine-stitching on the pocket square’s edges. Hand-rolled edges would have been nice, but perhaps not practical—Lands’ End opted to make this a double-sided pocket square, made up of two pieces of silk stitched together. It’s a unique construction not seen in any of the other squares I own (including another from Lands’ End), and I like how it gives the square more body to really fill out the pocket.
I’m not sure if Lands’ End intended for me to pair the tie and pocket square, but I find they go well together. Most obviously, the red sunbursts of the square complement the burgundy of the tie without getting too matchy-matchy. There’s a nice interplay of materials, too. In a post last month that’s oddly disappeared from his site, Will Boehlke advocated for inverting the typical sheen-matte relationship of silk tie and linen pocket square, saying that matte-sheen—say a wool tie and a silk square—has the same effect in a combination that’s a bit fresher and different. I agree.
Will noted that it was a good combo for worsted jackets, but here I wear it with a doeskin flannel blazer.

Courtesy Of: Lands’ End Silk Wool Tie and Silk Sunburst Neat Pocket Square

“Courtesy Of” is a series on This Fits in which I write about products that have been gifted to me. While I strive to be objective, I think it’s fairer to you, the readers, if I disclose when I’ve received merchandise for free.

The folks at Lands’ End recently sent me a generous collection of their Fall/Winter menswear offerings, select items that they feel proud about. Today I’m featuring two of those samples: the Silk Wool Necktie in Peat Maroon and the Silk Sunburst Neat Pocket Square.

In his book Gentleman: A Timeless Guide to Fashion, Bernhard Roetzel writes that how a tie feels when you first handle it is a good indication of the quality. He concedes that it’s a somewhat ambiguous standard, but counsels “if you like what you feel, you are probably right to go ahead and buy the necktie.”

I happen to like the feel of this tie, a 55/45 silk/wool blend, and the quality seems comparable to other Lands’ End ties (typically on par with Brooks Brothers or Polo).

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The fabric has a good weight and nice fuzzy fall/winter hand. The interlining is stiffer than the Drake’s London ties I own, but still supple enough to easily knot up with a dimple. It’s a bit thick—a good thing for a wool tie, I’d say—so the first time I tied it, I had trouble with my usual double four-in-hand knot, opting for a standard four-in-hand instead. Even with just one loop, it makes for a thick knot that fills the triangle of a collar nicely.

Lands’ End touts that the tie is “hand sewn.” I won’t pretend to recognize hand sewing on a tie—I don’t know where to look, and even if I did, Roetzel shows a machine in his book that can mimic the supposedly telltale irregularities of hand sewing. So I pressed Lands’ End on what exactly “hand sewn” means. They shared a response from their tie maker, based in Long Island City, New York with over 40 years’ experience in neckwear (the tie is made in China):

The key aspect of the handmade tie is that the shell fabric is carefully wrapped around the interlining, and then stitched from the outside by a skilled hand-sewer, who can adjust the pattern for straightness, relax the fabric when needed for perfect drape, and sew the lining to the fabric with a very delicate attachment.

This is the opposite of a machine-made tie, which is laid on a template (which precludes any individual adjustment), and then is sewn inside out, with the needle slamming through both fabric and interlining on every pass, before the tie needs to be turned inside out and repressed.  It’s often said in the industry that a true English Repp should never be made by machine, as the turning process breaks up the finish of the fabric.”

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It’s much easier to pick out the machine-stitching on the pocket square’s edges. Hand-rolled edges would have been nice, but perhaps not practical—Lands’ End opted to make this a double-sided pocket square, made up of two pieces of silk stitched together. It’s a unique construction not seen in any of the other squares I own (including another from Lands’ End), and I like how it gives the square more body to really fill out the pocket.

I’m not sure if Lands’ End intended for me to pair the tie and pocket square, but I find they go well together. Most obviously, the red sunbursts of the square complement the burgundy of the tie without getting too matchy-matchy. There’s a nice interplay of materials, too. In a post last month that’s oddly disappeared from his site, Will Boehlke advocated for inverting the typical sheen-matte relationship of silk tie and linen pocket square, saying that matte-sheen—say a wool tie and a silk square—has the same effect in a combination that’s a bit fresher and different. I agree.

Will noted that it was a good combo for worsted jackets, but here I wear it with a doeskin flannel blazer.

Courtesy Of: Hucklebury Sky Blue Orchard Gingham Shirt
"Courtesy Of" is a series on This Fits in which I write about products that have been gifted to me for review. While I strive to be objective, I think it’s fairer to you, the readers, if I disclose when I’ve received merchandise for free.
First things first: I had the darnedest time trying to correct the colors in these photos. The shirt is a really nice sky blue, best represented by the third and final picture in this post.
Hucklebury co-founder Parag, must be a mind reader, as I was looking for a shirt pretty much like this one about a year ago. The specs are like a primer on my kind of casual shirt: light blue, gingham, buttondown collar, single-button barrel cuffs, and a great fit.
When Parag reached out to me about reviewing a shirt, I was a bit skeptical about what to expect from another entrant in the increasingly-crowded “better-fitting clothes” niche. What I received was a handsome, well-made, great-fitting shirt. I wore it to a networking event at a local alehouse last night and received compliments on it (because someone will ask: unstructured navy blazer, grey cashmere cable-knit V-neck, slim straight jeans, brown suede chukkas).
Kiyoshi has a far better review of Hucklebury’s quality and construction than I could put together. The shirt I received features a different fabric—a single-ply poplin with a soft and luxurious hand. It’s a bit too lightweight for the approaching winter, but should make a great go-to shirt come spring.

The shirt I received is in Hucklebury’s slim fit, and as Kiyoshi noted, the back features darts. Many see darted shirts as decidedly feminine, but here it tucks in a lot of the excess fabric at the waist, giving the torso a more masculine V-shape. I like that.
I also appreciate the shirt’s neckline. Hucklebury highlights that they’ve designed for a flattering “V” when their shirts are worn with an open collar, and it shows with this shirt. On most off-the-rack shirts, unbuttoning just the collar button causes the neck opening to splay out horizontally in an unflattering manner. I typically unbutton the collar button and the top button to achieve a V-shape that better frames the face (I’m not quite down with leaving open three buttons, aka the full Basty). With Hucklebury’s shirt, the same effect is made by just unbuttoning the collar button, making for a shallower but still flattering frame for the face.
I do wish the Hucklebury shirts came in multiple sleeve lengths. While the standard length is a bit short for Kiyoshi and his preferred 35” sleeve, on my 32” arms the sleeves run a bit long.

That said, at $85, this shirt is a fine value, especially given the pedigree of the Italian mills the fabric is sourced from (Thomas Mason and Tessitura Monti, among others).
Well done, Hucklebury.

Courtesy Of: Hucklebury Sky Blue Orchard Gingham Shirt

"Courtesy Of" is a series on This Fits in which I write about products that have been gifted to me for review. While I strive to be objective, I think it’s fairer to you, the readers, if I disclose when I’ve received merchandise for free.

First things first: I had the darnedest time trying to correct the colors in these photos. The shirt is a really nice sky blue, best represented by the third and final picture in this post.

Hucklebury co-founder Parag, must be a mind reader, as I was looking for a shirt pretty much like this one about a year ago. The specs are like a primer on my kind of casual shirt: light blue, gingham, buttondown collar, single-button barrel cuffs, and a great fit.

When Parag reached out to me about reviewing a shirt, I was a bit skeptical about what to expect from another entrant in the increasingly-crowded “better-fitting clothes” niche. What I received was a handsome, well-made, great-fitting shirt. I wore it to a networking event at a local alehouse last night and received compliments on it (because someone will ask: unstructured navy blazer, grey cashmere cable-knit V-neck, slim straight jeans, brown suede chukkas).

Kiyoshi has a far better review of Hucklebury’s quality and construction than I could put together. The shirt I received features a different fabric—a single-ply poplin with a soft and luxurious hand. It’s a bit too lightweight for the approaching winter, but should make a great go-to shirt come spring.

image

The shirt I received is in Hucklebury’s slim fit, and as Kiyoshi noted, the back features darts. Many see darted shirts as decidedly feminine, but here it tucks in a lot of the excess fabric at the waist, giving the torso a more masculine V-shape. I like that.

I also appreciate the shirt’s neckline. Hucklebury highlights that they’ve designed for a flattering “V” when their shirts are worn with an open collar, and it shows with this shirt. On most off-the-rack shirts, unbuttoning just the collar button causes the neck opening to splay out horizontally in an unflattering manner. I typically unbutton the collar button and the top button to achieve a V-shape that better frames the face (I’m not quite down with leaving open three buttons, aka the full Basty). With Hucklebury’s shirt, the same effect is made by just unbuttoning the collar button, making for a shallower but still flattering frame for the face.

I do wish the Hucklebury shirts came in multiple sleeve lengths. While the standard length is a bit short for Kiyoshi and his preferred 35” sleeve, on my 32” arms the sleeves run a bit long.

image

That said, at $85, this shirt is a fine value, especially given the pedigree of the Italian mills the fabric is sourced from (Thomas Mason and Tessitura Monti, among others).

Well done, Hucklebury.