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High Quality Collar
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Show your size preferences. Checks Novelty Plaids Solids Stripes. Button-Down Collar Spread Collar. The appeal of each is the same as it is with collars: They should be hand sewn and this is where experience, skill, and patience makes a difference. It takes a lot of focus, practice and time to get the details on the cuffs right and it will show the most in the pointedness of the corners and the straightness of the stitching.
A high quality shirt will certainly have perfect pattern matching at the center back of the split yoke, as well as along the front of the shirt and at the pocket if the shirt has a pocket.
If the pattern matching is not precise, the stripes or checks will not align down the front of the shirt and look sloppy. Horizontal lines should run seamlessly from the left to right side of the shirt and vertical stripes should be spaced such that there is no stripe missing at either sides of the shirt placket. The stripes on one side of a collar should be identical in elevation to the stripes on the opposite side of the collar.
A really good sign of a high quality dress shirt is when the pattern at the end of the yoke matches perfectly with the pattern at the top of the sleeves.
This is a really great detail that is difficult to accomplish consistently. Keep in mind that, the way the curves and angles of a shirt pattern go, it will be impossible to match all of the patterns perfectly. In general, the stitching throughout the shirt should be straight or smoothly curved in the curves. A high quality dress shirt should have at least 18 stitches per inch around the cuffs and collars.
Some casual shirts may be sewn with thicker thread and less stitches per inch, which is certainly acceptable, although these shirts would not be acceptable for most business or evening wear. Another way to tell a high quality dress shirt is to check if it has single needle side seam stitching along the sides of the shirt and bottom of the sleeves.
This will produce an incredibly tight seam that is very narrow and elegant. Only one line of thread will be visible on the outside of the shirt and the tightness of the seam will make it such that no puckering can show when the shirt is washed and dried. The way to check for single needle stitching is to look at the front and back of this seam along the sides of the shirt and check if you can see one or two lines of sewing. Sewing the side seams in this tight way is more difficult for the shirtmaker.
If two lines of stitching are visible here it makes for a less elegant shirt and a side seam that shows more puckering after washing.
One exception to this rule of thumb is if the side seam is sewn such that only one line of stitching is visible from the outside, but two lines are visible from the inside. It produces a clean look and a tight seam without the cost and difficulty of the classic single needle side seam. Check closely to see how the buttons are attached to the shirt.
The buttons should be firmly attached to the shirt without too much looseness. Attaching buttons this way is cheaper and faster for the shirt maker and generally not as secure as the aforementioned method. Generally this is not necessary for finer dress shirt fabrics, but the attention to detail that it implies should be appreciated.
A shanked button will have another thread wrapped around the threads that hold the button to the shirt behind the button. This can cause the buttons to stand out ever so slightly and makes for an elegant look. Below the opening of the shirt is what is called the shirt sleeve placket. This is the part of the shirt sleeve that opens up when the cuff is unbuttoned.
This area is necessary so that you can get your hand through the opening of the sleeve or roll your sleeves up your arm. A high quality dress shirt will feature an extra button in the center of this placket that prevents this part of the sleeve from gaping open.
Some lower quality shirts will try to skip this detail to save a few pennies, resulting in either a large gaping opening just below the cuff, or a sleeve placket so short that the sleeves cannot be rolled up the forearm without feeling uncomfortably tight.
A high quality dress shirt will come with some spare buttons attached somewhere on the shirt. A high quality shirtmaker will expect your shirt to last you for years, and be aware that, inevitably, a button or two will be lost and need replacing.
Typically these will be sewn on the front shirt tail, but they also may be found on a tag at the side seam. Another sign of a high quality dress shirt can be found at the bottom of the side seams. Premium shirts will have some sort of reinforcing here that is called a gusset. It also adds just a bit of minimal, practical design to the shirt. The extra time and effort that it takes to add details like this is a good sign of a high quality dress shirt. Split Yoke A sure-fire sign of a high quality shirt construction is the split yoke.
Removable Collar Stays Going back to the collar, if the shirt has a dressy style business collar, then it will almost always require collar stays little pieces of metal or plastic that are inserted into the points of the collar — they keep the collar points pointing straight and looking sharp.
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