Menswear Care Guide: Cotton Dress Shirts
October 26th, 2015
Classic menswear is more resilient than many consumers realize. A well-tailored garment in a quality fabric can take quite a beating, from my experience, especially if you know how to treat it between rounds. With that said, here is the first article in a series called Menswear Care, to help our readers get the most out of their wardrobe investments.
With our first collection I wanted to make it as streamlined as possible for our clients to create lasting wardrobes that are easy to wear and simple to maintain. For that reason all of our custom shirts are made from high-density 100% cotton. This means that you can (and should) launder them in the washing machine. They’re the kind of oxford and broadcloth shirts that break-in beautifully after a few washes.
A lot of guys default to dry cleaning because they think it’s the best way to clean their shirts. However, washing them at home (or at a laundromat) actually delivers a better clean and a fresher result long-term. That’s because the cotton fibers in dress shirts absorb moisture (sweat) and odors over the course of wearing, so dousing them in a good wash will provide a thorough and fiber-level clean.
I wash my shirts in my apartment’s tiny old washing machine, using the same product that my mother’s been using on our clothes since me and my brothers were young farmboys. There’s something nostalgic about it, sure, but it’s also just very easy and very cheap.
When I was living in NYC I would have my shirts laundered and ironed for $2.50/shirt, mainly because I didn’t have an apartment large enough to comfortably set-up an ironing board. Yea, it was like that.
Now that we’re living in LA we have plenty of space, our own washing machine, and I’ve come to appreciate the precision craft of giving a shirt a perfect press. It also allows me to create the perfect roll when ironing the collar – most laundry shops usually just crease the collar flat, which looks much more square.
As a gentleman you know that the achilles heel of the dress shirt is the back of the collar. It goes brown after you sweat. Eventually it becomes a yellow stain that cannot be removed. You can pre-treat it every time before you wash it, and try to stay as cool and sweat-free as possible throughout the day, but the curse of the collar stain is inevitable.
The real tragedy is the number of shirts that get thrown out simply because of a stained collar, when the rest of the shirt is perfectly fine. The collar is only about 5% of the fabric of the shirt. That would be like throwing out your new car because you scratched the bumper. There is a better solution. Collars can easily be replaced by a tailor, especially if he has your measurements and additional fabric still in stock… More on that later.
Thanks, as always, for reading.
Yours in style,
Shop Custom Menswear Made in America