Archives: Shirts

Know your shirt fabrics

custom dress shirt fabric

Gingham

A gingham pattern is a checkered pattern with white and colored checks that are the same size. This pattern is made up of horizontal and vertical stripes on a white background.

Your go-to necktie: Solid

Tattersall

Similar to gingham, this is a very popular pattern. The pattern consists of regularly spaced thin vertical warp stripes and repeated in the weft direction, forming squares. Usually, the background color will be white, or something very light, but it can really be anything.

Your go-to necktie: Solid or a bold stripe.

Tartan Plaid

This is the plaid that is most often associated with Scotland. It is a very traditional plaid made up of criss-crossed horizontal and vertical stripes in multiple colors. During manufacture, each thread in the warp crosses each thread in the weft at a 90 degree angle. When a thread in the warp direction crosses a thread of the same color in the weft direction, the result is a solid color. On the other hand, a thread crosses another thread of a different color, it produces an equal mixture of the two colours. What this means is that the two base colors result in three colors!

This makes for a relatively casual dress shirt.

Your go-to necktie: None. Or, if you must, try a square-bottomed knit tie for a nice casual look.

Shepherd’s check

The shepherd’s check pattern was originally a plaid worn by Scottish shepherds. Right off the bat, you’re probably wondering “isn’t this a gingham?!” While it may look close, the difference lies in the weave. A shepherd’s check is woven with a twill weave, whereas the gingham is not.

Your go-to necktie: Solid, but steer clear of a similar twill weave.

Madras

Madras is a really fun plaid that is most often see in cotton. Its namesake comes from the former name of an Indian city, Chennai. And similar to champagne, only real madras comes from Madras. Also, both sides of the cloth must have the same pattern and it must be handwoven. Because it comes from a unique short-staple cotton fiber, one that can’t be combed, only carded, the resulting fabric has noticeable bumps called slubs.

Your go-to necktie: None.

Windowpane check

Depending on the colors, this can make for either a very bold dress shirt, or one that’s a bit like a subtle plaid. Regardless, the pattern is a lot like — you guessed — a windowpane. This is a very common dress shirt and certainly one that deserves a place in your closet.

Your go-to necktie: A solid is the safe pick, but consider a stripe or paisley for a refined look.

Houndstooth

The houndstooth pattern is one of those traditionally masculine designs. The classic look is in black and white, but it can really be in any color. It is made up by broken checks that are reminiscent of a dog’s tooth. Again, we can thank our friends in Scotland for originally creating this pattern.

Your go-to necktie: Solid

Glen plaid

Also known as Prince of Wales plaid, this is a classic menswear pattern. We see it most often in suiting, but it’s also very common in dress shirts. Simply put, it’s a twill weave made up of small and large checks.

It first made its appearance during the nineteenth century in the Glenurquhart valley of, yes, Scotland. Prince of Wales Sir Edward VIII maintained a particular affinity for the pattern, so sometimes you’ll see it labeled as Prince of Wales.

Your go-to necktie: Typically, this is a pretty versatile fabric, so you have some options. But be careful with plaid neckties.

Awning Stripe

There’s no doubt about it, the awning stripe is one bold stripe! It’s the widest there is, usually coming in at over 1/4″ wide. When paired with the right suit, this can make for a very bold look. Although not a great option for a very formal event, it can look great in the office — so long as you own the building!

Your go-to necktie: Solid or soft paisley

Bengal

A bengal stripe dress shirt is one with repeating stripes that are 1/4″ wide. The stripes can be any color, but usually sit on a white background. While not as bold as a awning stripe dress shirt, the bengal shirt is still a very commanding dress shirt pattern.

Your go-to necktie: Solid

Know your shirt fabrics – Wrap up

We hope that this article helps to shed some light on the wide world of shirting patterns.

How to keep your dress shirts looking like new

dress shirts looking like new

I received a question recently on how to keep your dress shirts looking like new. The more I thought about it, I realized that this is really an important question.

When you first receive a bespoke dress shirt, whether it’s from Bespoke Edge or another provider, there’s no doubt that it looks pretty phenomenal in the box. The fabric is even better looking than the swatch had you seen and the collar looks immaculate in its crispness. You almost don’t want to take it out of the box!

Of course, you eventually do.

And if you wash your shirts at home there’s always that sad moment when you open the washer door and see your once proud dress shirt now in a wrinkled and damp pile of itself.

Sigh.

But shirts are shirts and they are meant to be washed. They’ll be fine. They will shrink a little bit, but if they are one of our shirts, I can say confidently that they will shrink just as planned. For instance, when we took your measurements to build the shirt in the first place, we accounted for a little shrinkage in the sleeves. So, your shirt will fit better and better after the first several wash cycles.

What if you have your bespoke shirts professionally cleaned? Is there anything you should know? Or directions that should be relayed to your cleaner so that your shirts come back looking like new?

First, a high quality bespoke shirt will last a long time and look nice, even after repeated washings. In my experience, skilled launderers are very hard to come by. All too often, cleaners will abuse the shirts with overly high temperatures and harsh pressing. But a good cleaner will employ hand methods where appropriate and use gentle techniques. It wouldn’t hurt to get in the habit of asking your cleaner how they go about washing your shirt and what options are available to you. At the very least, you’ll learn something new.

dress shirts looking like new

Secondly, use a very light starch on any bespoke shirt – you may be surprised how little you actually need.

And don’t dry clean your shirts, just launder them. Washing dress shirts in water is definitely going to be better for removing water soluble dirt and stains. It will also put less wear and tear on your shirts.

Before you exclaim that “…I don’t want to iron! Dry cleaning is so much easier,” you may want to ask your cleaner if they press laundered shirts. This way you get the best of both worlds – appropriate and effective shirt cleaning and no ironing (Oh, and for far less money than having your shirts dry cleaned).

The above tips will help you keep your custom dress shirts looking great, but if I had to highlight one point, it would be the pressing. This is probably the single most important thing you can do to keep your dress shirts looking like new. Whether you’re a skilled ironer or prefer to send your shirts out, be sure to pay special attention to the collar, yoke, and placket of the shirt. If these three areas are looking great, so will you.

By Ryan Wagner

Further reading

Here’s an article on how to wash your dress shirt from our Learn page.

Joe Akmakjian of the Muscular Dystrophy Association

Joseph Akmakjian

At BE, we consider ourselves fortunate to have a very diverse group of clients. And this week I want to shine the spotlight on one gentleman in particular. Recently, I had an opportunity to interview Joe Akmakjian of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Earlier this year, Joe was named the National Goodwill Ambassador. What’s interesting is that this is the first year the MDA has chosen an adult for the position.

Search for his name on Google and you’ll find a handful of articles and photos – even a skydiving pic! It quickly becomes clear that he has a story to tell.

Here’s what I learned:

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[Ryan] As the National Goodwill Ambassador for MDA, what do you do for the organization?

[Joe] My job is to represent the individuals and families that the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) serves on a national level. More specifically, I travel around the country to different events, conferences, fundraisers or media appearances to share my story and educate others on the realities of living with a muscle-debilitating disease. Often I meet with current and new sponsors to thank them for partnering with MDA and working hard to help the community of people we aim to help, which I am a part of. I speak on behalf of the organization to give an understanding of what services MDA provides people, and why it’s important they are able to do so. As the first adult NGA, part of my role is teaching people about the importance of helping adults living with muscle-debilitating disease live independent and fulfilling lives. I also meet with those who benefit from MDA services to get a better understanding of what they need from the organization and how we can better serve them.

Can you tell us a little bit about the medical advances in the past 10 – 15 years? How does MDA promote future research and drug development to treat muscular dystrophy, ALS, and other life threatening diseases?

When I was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy in Nov. of 1992, I was given a life expectancy of 12 years. Now, because of the advancements in medicine and medical technology, I’ve far surpassed that. There’s no telling how long I’ll live. In recent years we’ve seen more drugs and treatments brought before the FDA than ever before. Right now, researchers working on studies funded in part by MDA predict that the next five years will bring more development of drugs and treatments than the last 50 combined. How cool is that?

You’ve participated in the MDA Summer Camp in your younger years – how did this experience shape you and your future ambitions?

At first I was terrified to attend MDA Summer Camp. I was nine the first time I went. It was unnerving to anticipate a week being cared for by strangers. My mom was my only caregiver until then. That was all I knew. But camp taught me a lot of great life skills. For instance, it taught me that I could survive with the help of others and didn’t have to only rely on my mom for care. That’s what really helped to spark my dream of one day living on my own and having an independent life. Summer camp is where a lot of kids with muscle-debilitating disease learn to be independent and live beyond societal limitations.

How can people or companies get involved to help support MDA?

There are a lot of ways for people and companies to get involved with MDA! Individuals can donate to firefighters out collecting for Fill The Boot or buy a Shamrock at participating retailers. They can also participate in a special event for MDA like Muscle Walks, Team Momentum, Lock-Ups, Muscle Team Galas. They can also create a “Your Way for MDA’’ website and do their own fundraiser. Companies looking to partner with MDA can also join our special events or participate in pin-up programs, like MDA Shamrocks. People and business looking to help out can also call their local MDA office and see if they have any volunteer opportunities open. For more information about getting involved or to find a nearby MDA office, visit www.mda.org.

What is MDA’s Live Unlimited campaign all about?

At MDA we want to show the world that individuals and families living with muscle-debilitating disease are thriving. So often people with disabilities are told they can’t live lives of freedom and independence, but they are. Live Unlimited means something different for everyone. But the main concept is that we all are living past our perceived limitations in many ways, for us, the sky’s the limit.

***

I’d like to thank Joe for taking the time to answer my questions!

Please visit the Muscular Dystrophy Association here to find out how you can get involved.

By Ryan Wagner

Short sleeve summer shirts – try something different

So, Brett just received a couple of really fun shirts. I thought it was worth a blog post to go over how he designed his short sleeve summer shirts and what his aims were from the onset.

Short sleeve dress shirts, as you can imagine, are a warm weather staple. Simply put, we lose the sleeves when the mercury rises too high to stay comfortable otherwise. And these shirts will definitely keep you cool. Paired with a breathable fabric, you’re bound to stay well ventilated.

Tip: When it gets really, really hot outside, it is acceptable to wear short sleeves under your suit. Just be sure that your collar can stand up to the weight of the jacket lapel without a neck tie. 

Fabric

Brett designed these as sport shirts. That is, a shirt that isn’t built in a traditional or conservative fabric, but something a little more fun and bold. And I think you’d agree with me when I say that yes, he found some bold patterns!

It should be noted that Brett doesn’t plan on wearing a tie with either of these shirts. Being short sleeve shirts, it can be difficult to pull off a neck tie, and more so with the complex print patterns that we have here.

short sleeve summer shirt

blue-floral-full

Pockets

Brett wanted to have a single shirt pocket on both of these shirts. But there’s something interesting about how we do our shirt pockets at BE.

Take a close look at the pocket in the image below. See how the pattern has been lined up? The little bicycles that are part of the fabric on the pocket line up with the partial bicycles on the shirt itself.

short sleeve summer shirt pocket detail

You might be tempted to exclaim that this is a subtlety that doesn’t have a big impact, but now look at the shirt as a whole. With the partial bicycles lined up according to the pattern, the pocket tends to disappear altogether. It’s a cool effect and a sign of high quality short sleeve summer shirts.

bike-short-sleeve

Buttons

Brett set out to complement each of the shirts’ fabric with his choice of button. With the bicycle shirt, he wanted the buttons in a navy/black so that they stood out a little. Another option would have been to select a more white button, similar to what you’d find in an off-the-rack shirt.

For the floral print shirt, Brett found a very cool metallic button – yes, metallic. It doesn’t stand out a lot on its own. And especially with the strong floral print pattern it would be difficult to draw attention away from the shirt anyway.

blue-button

And for both shirts, the buttons selected were very shallow in depth. These buttons feel much different to the touch and have a slightly more sophisticated look than a more standard and thicker button.

Wrap up

Short sleeve summer dress shirts are a great way to express yourself during the warmest months of the year. Unlike a polo shirt, a bespoke short sleeve shirt opens up all sorts of fun ways to detail and highlight the shirt.

Just like all of your BE clothes, fit is the most important thing. Short sleeve shirts need to be well tailored in order for them to not look baggy and oversized, especially at the sleeve. But with the right fit, you’ll look sharp as a tack in a short sleeve summer shirt!

By Ryan Wagner

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