Welcome to Skimp, Spend, Splurge, a series that looks at a given style in menswear (dress shirts, black dress shoes, dive watches, navy blazers, etc…) and examines three different options at ascending price points. If you’ve got a suggestion for Skimp Spend Splurge, send those in to email@example.com
NOTE: The untucked shots below are for fit/side sculpting illustrative purposes only. A lot of us like to know how boxy a shirt may (or may not) be before we buy it and wear it tucked in. These are true dress shirts, so you’re not going to want to wear them untucked.
- Size/Fit Shown: Medium, Standard Fit on 5’10″/185.
- Fits Available: Just Standard. Nothing slimmer.
- Fabric: 60% Cotton, 36% Recycled Polyester, 4% Spandex.
- Collar Stays?: YES. Removable. Wasn’t sure if these shirts would have collar stays or not. Some cheap “dress shirts” don’t, or have (gasps) non-removable stays sewn into the collar. Glad to say these shirts have removable stays.
- Non Iron?: No. It’ll need to be ironed, but it doesn’t come out of the washer/dryer overly wrinkled. Pretty standard stuff.
- Washing Instructions: Machine Wash/Tumble Dry Low.
- Are they “See Through?”: The body is a little translucent, but not terribly so. Most won’t notice or care.
For $33? Pretty, pretty good. It’s basic, but it’s executed well. Fabric is a blend: 60% Cotton, 36% Recycled Polyester, 4% Spandex. There’s some stretch to the fabric, but the use of the word “performance” seems like an exaggeration here. It’s not a super stretchy, wicking Rhone Commuter or anything like that. Far from it. Yet many “tech” button up shirts look unfortunately casual, (which the OG Rhone Commuter falls victim to,) whereas this Goodfellow dress shirt looks and wears like a classic, classy, sharp dress shirt. Sold in ballpark “alpha” sizing (S/M/L/etc.) Not the more precise neck and sleeve measurements you’ll find on other dress shirts. But that’s not unexpected. This is Target, not some old-school tailor on Savile Row.
Spend: Banana Republic Premium Poplin Shirt – $90 ($60ish on sale)
- Size/Fit Shown: Medium, Tailored Slim Fit on 5’10″/185.
- Fits Available: Tailored Slim Fit (shown above) as well as a slimmer “true slim” option.
- Fabric: 100% Cotton.
- Collar Stays?: Yep. Removable.
- Non Iron?: No. These absolutely need to be ironed. They wrinkle a lot in the wash.
- Washing Instructions: Machine Wash, Tumble Dry Low.
- Are they “See Through?”: No. They’re not a thick, heavy twill though. Mid to lightweight poplin.
One of the best shaped collars you’ll find in the mid-level “spend” price tier. It’s crisp, has good length to the points, and looks great with or without a tie. Fabric is a nice and smooth feeling, 100% cotton. But while it’s smooth feeling, it’s anything but smooth looking right out of the washer and dryer. These things REALLY wrinkle. So you better know how to wield an iron. But a lot of guys abhor the feeling or chemistry that goes into a lot of non-iron shirts. Some non-iron finishes are much better than others, but if you’re looking to go old-school, then the 100% cotton poplin BR uses isn’t a bad choice. They’re a bit pricey for what you get at full price ($90), but when they’re 30% or 40% off, they’re a solid deal. Really wish they were sold in neck and sleeve sizes though. The not-as-precise alpha sizing (S/M/L/, etc…) won’t feel like the best fit to all.
- Size/Fit Shown: 16.5 neck / 34″ sleeve, Tailored Fit on 5’10″/185.
- Fits Available: Extra Slim, Tailored Fit (shown above), Contemporary, or Classic.
- Fabric: 100% cotton 80s 2ply fine twill with non-iron finish.
- Collar Stays?: Yes, removable… unless you choose a button down or hidden button down collar (since they’re made to order and you get to choose your collar style.) Hidden button down collar is shown above, and the collars are so good that they can easily pass as a nice, sharp dress shirt even with no collar stays.
- Non Iron?: Yes. Although most will want to iron it lightly just to smooth it out after a machine wash. It’s not a stiff, sticky, or scratchy non iron. They did a really nice job with their non-iron line.
- Washing Instructions: Machine wash gentle cycle, hand wash, or dry clean. For drying they suggest “hang or lay flat to dry, as machine drying can cause shrinkage,” but I’ve thrown these in the dryer on the cool cycle and have so far been okay. YMMV.
- “See Through?”: No.
- A note on delivery cost and speed: Since these are made to order due to the fit, collar style, collar size, and sleeve length you pick, these take 2-3 weeks to get to you. Shipping is also (a steep) $15.
As good as it gets. Ledbury’s Made To Order (MTO) program allows you to pick from four different fit templates, neck and sleeve sizing that provides sleeve length options down to the half inch, and you get to pick one of six(!) collar styles. The hidden button down collar is shown above, but for those who want versatility, go with their mid-spread-dress option. The Ledbury Mid Spread collar is known as one of if not the best in the business. Looks great dressed up with a tie, but also excels when worn without a tie thanks to the combination of good structure and their famously slightly lowered second button. That second button, being positioned just a touch lower than almost all other dress shirts, means you end up with that perfect amount of distance of “un-buttoned-ness” when you undo the top button. You’re neither too restricted looking, nor are you looking too cheesy/chesty. Can’t say that about other dress shirts, which often leave the wearer feeling stuck between undoing one button, or undoing two and risking looking like a slimy cheese-ball.
Also receiving votes:
- UNIQLO Super Non-Iron Slim Fit Dress Shirts – $39.90
- Tie Bar Pinpoint Non-Iron Dress Shirt – $55
- Spier & Mackay White Fine Twill Dress Shirt – $58
- Charles Tyrwhitt Non-Iron Twill Dress Shirt – $60ish when on sale
- RHONE Tech-Fabric Commuter Midweight Pro – $148
Also worth a mention: How to iron a dress shirt
Which parts to iron first, the “undo” function on most irons, and more tips and tricks.