What is Style Source? It’s a series that analyzes a brand or retailer that might be a little bit off the beaten path for some. Just because a brand doesn’t make it into the final four of Store Wars, that doesn’t mean they don’t offer a few great options that are worth your consideration. Yet maybe there are a few items that are worth looking for elsewhere. If you have a suggestion for a store or brand to be explored for an edition of Style Source, send it in here.
Based in the U.K., Charles Tyrwhitt is best known for their mail & internet-order shirts. In the past few years, Charles Tyrwhitt has expanded into the United States with retail locations in New York, D.C., and Chicago, now offer a US-based website and catalog, and regularly offer US-specific seasonal sales and promotions.
The reputation for their shirts is positive, but along with expansion in terms of geographical reach, Charles Tyrwhitt has come a long way in terms of the variety of clothing they offer. They’re not just a shirt company anymore, and haven’t been for awhile. Here’s what’s worth it, and perhaps what’s not quite up to snuff, in terms of a Dappered-focused budget.
CT was built upon the backs (and collars, and sleeves, and cuffs… ) of their shirts. The sheer variety of colors, patterns, collar & cuff styles, etc… is mind numbing. Plus, they’re available in wide range of neck widths (14.5″ – 17.5″) and sleeve lengths (up to 37). During sales and promotions (like the one running now), you might be able to get one of their shirts for as cheap as the low to mid $30s. But even at their 4 for $199 price, they’re an excellent value (yes, they are well worth it at fifty bucks a pop).
About their three shirt fits: Classic, Slim, Extra Slim
- Classic: voluminous, billowing mess.
- Slim: classic, generous cut.
- Extra Slim: tailored with higher, slimmer armholes
The Suggestion: First time buyers will probably be best served by the 100% non-iron cotton poplin or twill. Shirts made with these fabrics are consistently high quality, and the non-iron treatment insures that the shirts remain crisp over the course of multiple years of regular wear (while not being super-scratchy like some cheap non-iron shirts). The non-iron cotton twill is thicker and warmer than the poplin.
They’re really expensive, especially when compared to competitors including Banana Republic and J.Crew. The quality just doesn’t seem to be that big of a step up either. Many are going to find that their sizing is inconsistent. That said…
About their three pant fits: Classic, Slim, Extra Slim
- Classic: roomy through the bottom, thighs, and calves
- Slim: Inconsistent. Varies from well-tailored to skinny-jean-ball-popping territory
- Extra Slim: loose in the waist with a low rise, unfortunately small crotch, and skin-tight legs
The Suggestion: Tread carefully here. Only consider if they’re on some super sale or mega clearance. And steer clear of their non-iron cotton weekend chinos. The fabric wrinkles easily (indeed…), produces static, and is a lint magnet.
CT’s sportcoats and blazers can be a bargain for the savvy shopper, and come in two varieties: unstructured or half-canvassed. The quality of the half-canvassed jackets is exceptional. I would compare the jackets favorably to J.Crew, and the quality is visibly higher than Banana Republic. They represent a fantastic value, especially during a seasonal sale or with the use of a promotional code. Charles Tyrwhitt offers a classic navy blazer every season, and last season’s navy blazer is regularly offered in the clearance section for $170-$180.
Unstructured jackets can be inconsistent in sizing. If in doubt, order two sizes and take advantage of Charles Tyrwhitt’s excellent return policy to return the incorrect size. In general, they run very large. The quality of the unstructured blazers is just as inconsistent as the fit. The jacket pictured is a beautiful unlined, unstructured corduroy sport coat in a dark navy. I purchased this jacket during one of the end of season sales.
About their two jacket fits: Classic and Slim
- Classic: It’s actually a tailored, slim fit with 3″ lapels and a silhouette resembling SuitSupply’s Napoli fit.
- Slim: A European skinny fit with overly-slim, unflattering lapels.
Charles Tyrwhitt outsources the manufacturing of its shoes to Loake, and there are a few different price points to what CT Offers:
- The shoes at the low end: Equivalent to Loake’s L1 or Lifestyle ranges, and are often made in Asia.
- The shoes around the $200 mark are equivalent to Loake’s Shoemakers range. The quality is lower than Allen Edmonds, but these can be a decent value when on sale.
- The highest quality/most expensive shoes are variations of shoes in Loake’s 1880 range. These shoes are roughly equivalent in quality to Allen Edmonds, but tend to be made of softer, thinner leather.
It can be difficult to determine where a specific pair of shoes falls on the quality spectrum. Additionally, the last of the shoe is not listed on the website. That being said, Charles Tyrwhitt is one of the best sources for inexpensive, rebranded Loake 1880s. It’s well worth keeping an eye on a pair of shoes until the end of the season when promotional codes can be stacked with seasonal discounts to bring the shoes into the $160-$180 range. The Loake Kemptons that were previously reviewed on Dappered are sold by Charles Tyrwhitt every fall and winter.
The Suggestion: Charles Tyrwhitt currently offers a shoe similar to the Loake 1880 line wingtip pictured above. The brogue pattern differs slightly on Charles Tyrwhitt’s version, and who knows if the last is the same. (Note: I’ve darkened my shoes from the original tan color using dark brown shoe cream.)
Sales & Discounts
- Charles Tyrwhitt is perpetually on sale. Ignore the claimed savings, and the listed “original price”.
- There are always promotional codes for at least 10% off that do stack with multiple purchase discounts. In other words, if you buy four shirts for $199 you can apply a 10% promotional code to that order to bring it down to $179.10.
- Charles Tyrwhitt runs hidden page discounts. For example, if you visit www.ctshirts.com/jeff a hidden promotion will appear that offers a shirt for $40 with a “free” tie. The catch? The customer pays shipping. (You may need to clear your browser’s cookies before the promotional link works.)
- Pay attention to their hidden customer loyalty program. After you’ve made your first purchase, CT will occasionally mail you a unique one-time use coupon code that can be used online or in store. They also slip personalized coupons in between the second page of the catalog or the last page. It’s an incentive to subscribe to their catalog, and to shake it to see if any Willy Wonka style coupons come floating out. These can be quite valuable.
An example of a CT hidden page promo.
“Normally” $140? Nope. Worth it at $39.95 w/ a free tie? Sure.
- Charles Tyrwhitt offers one of the best customer service experiences of any menswear retailer.
- Their clothing is usually covered by a six month no-questions-asked guarantee. If a product develops a tear, a loose seam, a broken zipper, or displays any other flaw, Charles Tyrwhitt will exchange or refund the buyer. No questions asked. The only exception seems to be during their Summer and Winter sales, where that guarantee is reduced, greatly, to 14 days (but hey, they want to clear the decks).
- In the rare circumstance that a situation needs to be escalated, their executive office will personally respond to any email sent to ForNickWheelerOnly@ctshirts.co.uk.
Your turn guys. What’s your experience been like with Charles Tyrwhitt? Do you stick to just shirts? When have you found the best deals? Leave your CT experience & tips in the comments…
About the author: Chris (aka Bruschetta) is an America-born university researcher and teacher based in Glasgow, Scotland, as well as a moderator on Threads. His sense of style is inspired by a childhood dressed in Ivy league trad, and the fact that he is enormously well bred.