Pricing note: BR is running a quiet 46% off sale right now (40% off, then an additional 10% off that sale price) but it expires today, 5/3. Yet it’s BR, so, there’s almost always another sale/promo code coming.
About the Author: Brandon D. is a trial attorney for the government living in Houston, Texas. He’s a new dad (#girldad for those of you who do hashtags), which has made working from home that much more interesting for him, his wife, and their dog Charlie.
Author’s note: This outfit is from the Roger Sterling collection. A great band can only have one lead singer. So that means patterned pants go best with solid everything else.
Editor’s note: there are no more notes. Let’s get on with the review.
I know what you’re thinking. “Isn’t Brandon D. the pants review guy?” So before I get to my shirt review, here’s my review of these shirts if you were to wear them as pants: Worst pants ever. And now for the shirt review.
Shown: Size Large on 5’11″/200.
Trousers are J. Crew (last year) in their 770 fit. Boots are R.M. Williams.
As a brief primer on how I got to these shirts from BR, I began my career as a trial attorney over eleven years ago. I was in court five days a week. So I was in a suit and tie five days a week. I needed several conservative dress shirts, as in “solid white only, but for Casual Friday, solid light blue is allowed.” In 2009 that meant going to Brooks Brothers. I probably had fifteen of their slim-fit non-iron dress shirts (now called Regent Fitted Dress Shirt, Non-Iron Spread Collar). These were the best. Sure, the arms were so wide I could glide like Spider-Man. But they fit perfectly in the neck and chest. And the quality was second-to-none. Unfortunately, so was the price. Even on sale. So over time, I transitioned to Lands’ End Tailored Long Sleeve No Iron Straight Collar Pinpoint Dress Shirts. Much better price. Much lower quality. But still good enough. To be sure, I tried our friends at Charles Tyrwhitt and Ledbury. I can’t quite figure out why, but I didn’t like either option. Since they’re both so popular in these parts, and they do look great, I’m chalking this up to “It’s not them, it’s me.”
Merino vest from J. Crew (last year). Tie from TheTieBar
Made from 57% cotton, 40% COOLMAX polyester (I assume they’re yelling when they say “coolmax”), and 3% spandex, these certainly feel like the type of dress shirt you’d wear with your Core Temp Chinos. As in, they don’t feel like traditional all cotton dress shirts. They feel like they’re infused with some level of synthetic material that makes their excellent stretch possible. Yet they’re still quite comfortable. And they certainly look like just about every other pure cotton dress shirt I’ve owned. Not outlandishly shiny. And I would feel comfortable wearing them to work in any office setting.
As for the specifics, the collar, sleeves, and chest make this shirt a real winner. Let’s start with the collar. It’s a traditional button-down collar that works in literally any office or casual setting. It’s not so wide that you’d look like an extra on Wall Street, and it’s not so thin that your tie won’t be fully hidden under it. So wear a tie or don’t. You’ll look great either way. Now, some might say that a button-down collar is too informal for some jobs. I refer those people to the embodiment of conservative dress wear, Robert Mueller. But, skip these shirts should you have to attend a wedding or a funeral.
Sleeves are trimmed up without being tight.
Cotton/poly fabric feels good and looks good. Not shiny or “tech-y”.
The sleeves are another winner, though I’d add that they’re more of a winner if you have long arms like I do (5’11” height and 6’2″ wingspan”). The shirts have two buttons at the cuff to accommodate a wristwatch, as well as a button at the midpoint of the sleeve opening. While the sleeves are certainly slimmer than those on their standard fit shirts, you don’t need to get rid of your tickets to the gun show to fit into these (but you do need to stop unironically saying “gun show.”). And should one of your sleeve or collar buttons break (this usually happens to me after several trips to the laundromat), the shirts come with two extra buttons sewn onto a tag on the inside of the shirt.
And finally, the chest. But to be more specific, the width. I’m currently replacing all of my dress shirts, and because I already owned another shirt in this style, I assumed I fit into any slim fit Banana Republic dress shirt. I was wrong. Their other slim fit dress shirts are approximately 1″ narrower in the chest (measuring the fullest/widest part of the chest). When I tried on those other slim fits, I felt constricted. For these tech-stretch shirts, however, the 1″ wider chest meant that I got literally all of the advantages of BR’s slim fit shirts (narrower sleeves and body, and a more contemporary overall look). I wish they made all of their men’s dress shirts this way. There’s a bit of a goldilocks “just right” thing going on here. If BR’s other slim fits are just a bit tight on you? Try the tech-stretch. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Easy to dress up or down. Shown here with the Lands’ End Italian wool blazer.
As for a slight “negative,” since these shirts come in standard sizes (XXS – XXL) instead of specific collar/sleeve sizes, you might find that these shirts offer less than a perfect fit. With other brands, I’ve certainly found that to be the case. But here, these shirts fit just about as well as my favorite 16″ neck/35″ sleeve dress shirts. I’ll also note that these shirts don’t have a yoke on the back or side gussets, two features usually associated with providing greater range of motion and preventing ripping at the seams. But since these shirts are made from materials engineered to move with you, having these features would likely serve as a “belt and suspenders” feature.
One more quality control negative: I was super excited to show how the solid white option looked, but it arrived with a ripped collar. Bummer. I will say that as a former BR employee (seasonal help!), and a current BR customer, my experience tells me that this issue is a one-off. But still, annoying.
All told, these are great dress shirts. The solid white and light blue options rarely dip under 50% off ($44.50), but you might just find one of the patterned options dip below $20. The latter is an absolute steal and the former is a more than fair price for a quality white or light blue dress shirt. If these aren’t in the mix for your dress shirt rotation, they’re worth a test run and might just be your new go-to.