It was the first time I had bespoke shirts made so I thought I should write down a few things about the outcome and what I should be doing for my next batch of shirts. I had three shirts made: a light blue chambray shirt, a red and blue stripes shirt and a white Japanese cotton shirt. It took the tailor about a week to finish.
1. Know the fabrics you will be using. Sometimes the reason why it doesn’t turn out the way you want it to be is because you chose the wrong fabric. Certain fabrics appear more casual and others more dressy. The white Japanese cotton shirt that I intended to be a dress shirt came back looking like a casual shirt after being laundered. The fabric is like my white GAP shirt but it’s a bit thinner. I’ve decided to have the shirt altered (collars and cuffs softened; collars changed to button down).
2. Bring a ‘blueprint’. I used the Oxford shirts I bought from Uniqlo because they fit great. I told my tailor to follow them but he still took measurements while I wore it just to be sure.
3. The shirt placket should depend on how you intend to wear the shirt. Casual shirts usually have a strip about an inch in width while dress shirts are folded underneath to appear more neat.
4. Casual shirts should not use stiff collars and cuffs. Dress shirts should use them but should be softer than the usual. I had to ask the tailor to change the collars and cuffs on my two casual shirts because they were too stiff. They didn’t give off a casual vibe.
5. Ask advice on the right thread color to use. You can also look around for the appropriate thread colors.
6. Choose the buttons that your shirt will have. The tailor normally provides this as part of the service but it is better to choose them so that it gives off the right vibe.
7. Mind the length of the shirt. Shirt lengths should be about one or two inches higher than the lowest area of your crotch if you will use them both tucked in and tucked out. Use your pants as a reference.
8. More room around the chest & arms, longer sleeves and wider cuffs. Since I patterned my shirts from a casual shirt, the areas around the chest and arms are a bit too tight. I’ll add about two centimeters around the chest area so that the fabric does not stretch – stretching is apparent for fabrics with stripes. The sleeves of dress shirts should also be longer by about an inch and the cuffs slightly wider to accommodate my hands (especially if you intend to wear it with a suit).
9. A semi-spread collar looks really good on dress shirts. It’s a modern and fashion-forward collar type that’s not as bold as a full spread collar nor as boring and common as a straight point collar.
10. Clean back for dress shirts. No darts (unless really necessary). No pleats or folds.
Now let’s talk about costs. The tailor billed me 600 pesos for making the shirt and the buttons. Fabrics cost anywhere between 120 to 200 pesos per yard. The chambray is quite cheap at 120 pesos per yard. Both the red & blue stripes and the white Japanese cotton cost 180 pesos per yard. I bought two yards of each fabric for each shirt with some extra fabric left for minor alterations. Each shirt cost me less than 1,000 pesos.
Having my first batch of bespoke shirts made has been a great learning experience. I look forward to applying what I’ve learned in the next batch.
(Originally published on my Tumblr blog)