MTM and Altered Shirts

On Wednesday night I wore an off the rack TM Lewin shirt to dinner and it was hell. It sounds pathetic but it’s not, and I’ll give you some context. I’ve got a number of MTM and altered shirts, and a whole lot of other shirts from various brands that were gifted to me or I purchased some time ago. But if I can help it, I never wear shirts that aren’t made to measure. I’m not trying to appear facetious, but it causes me a lot of stress. Off the rack I wear a size 40 suit, plus the alterations because I’m short. I’m not afraid to admit I don’t have an ‘off the rack’ body like my business partner Tom. We actually wear the same size suit, mine just needs a lot more work.

What I don’t have time for anymore is wearing shirts that don’t fit properly. It’s the same for suits, the same for trousers, the same for anything, but shirts fly under the radar quite a bit. People think they are getting away with it but they’re not. I’m talking about ill fitting cuffs with a good three centimetres between the wrist and the cuff, enough to comfortably cloak a Rolex Deepsea (or whatever thick watch you can think off), protruding out 3-4 inches, breaking on the wrist. Not to mention horror collars with an inch of finger space between the neck and button hosting disgraceful tie knots. What I’ve come to realise in the last three years is you can pull off a mediocre suit that fits well, but you can’t pull off a shit shirt. Ever. EVER. 

Anything that doesn’t fit properly isn’t worth a moment in your wardrobe. Period. You’ll notice that the moment you take the plunge into made to measure. Now, I don’t need to wear shirts and suits everyday, but I used to think having a huge selection of shirts was a good thing, but all I only wear three. Three out of twenty odd shirts, one from P. Johnson, off the rack that I had altered to fit my arm length and two more from Suit Shop, made exactly for me. One white spread collar MTM shirt, from a quality tailor will be worth 10 shit shirts, even if you wash it every night and wear it to work every day. I knew it already, but I fully realised it on Wednesday night.

Prepping for my Italy trip I washed my three favourite shirts and retreated to the wardrobe to get a fill in for my event on Wednesday. A shirt I bought for my friends wedding last year. Top of the line from the brand, but a travesty when compared to my ‘go to’ shirts. I ironed it and put it on and hated every minute of it. The same hate I recalled from the only other time I wore it. The collar was too tight, the sleeves were too long and the cuffs could have accommodated Jonah Hill’s wrists on a bad day. It was a nightmare. I spent the whole night worrying that I looked like a pre pubescent year 10 student at his first formal. I left and thought, I’m going to write an article about this.

Gents, MTM shirts are expensive, I’m not denying that, but god damn it they are worth the money. It doesn’t matter who you go to, any shirt made for your body will be worth its weight in gold. Not only will it fit, it’ll be made from a fabric that is more durable than your other seven shirts put together, and whether you want to admit it or not, you could wear it everyday (and hope everyone at work assumes you have five of them (and they will)).

It’s time fellas. Drop the garbage and go and get at least one shirt that matters. And if you don’t want to spend the money on a MTM, take your best fitting shirt, buy 5 more and take them to an alterations specialist and get the arms and waist sorted out. It might cost $30 each but you’ll look a million dollars every time you button them up. 


James is the Founder and Editor of The Versatile Gent.

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