Work clothing for a rainbow of sizes, gender presentations, and bodies
January 19, 2016 8:30 AM   Subscribe

So I need to purchase "nice, professional" work shirts for my small office. They don't all necessary need to be the same shirt or from the same place, but the general idea is button-front shirts in high-quality material, and it would be nice if we could embroider our company logo on them.

There are four of us. We all identify as women, though I lean way toward butch/genderqueer and prefer androgynous/men's clothing. Two are "normal" sizes and two, including me, are plus-size. Tailoring is probably not an option, unfortunately.

I also need my shirts to be very short-sleeved, since my arms break out in miserable hives when I wear sleeves of any kind. Related, my shirts need to be 100% cotton (or close to it), and as soft as possible.

I've looked at LL Bean, Land's End, Nordstrom, and Macy's, and they're all kind of meh. Have you purchased similar shirts? Where did you buy them?
posted by Munching Langolier to Shopping (7 answers total)
I would go to a local embroidery shop, a good one will have a wide variety of sources/suppliers that can provide the garments at a very fair cost. They will know which mix and match will provide an even look for everyone that still fits well.
posted by French Fry at 8:41 AM on January 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Short-sleeved button-fronts, this is probably just flat out the wrong time of year to be looking. I like the cut of my CJ Banks button-front shirts, from the perspective of being not built like the sort of woman who can normally wear button-front shirts well. I'm not sure how short the sleeves get in the summer, but I'm pretty sure I've seen them have real short sleeves. Just... not in January.
posted by Sequence at 8:55 AM on January 19, 2016

Here are a couple companies my employer uses:

Company Casuals

Lands End Business

I like the Lands End stuff better for clothes, though I do have a jacket from Company Casuals that is pretty nice.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:00 AM on January 19, 2016

Do you need to actually purchase the shirts yourself? My company provides a set of basic options, but we are also allowed to bring in our own preferred shirts and give them to the person who takes things to the local embroidery shop.

In my case, the company will provide one polo shirt with embroidery for free. After that, employees can purchase shirts (or other items) on their own and pay $5 for the embroidery. I hated the boxy polo shirts so I found some at Old Navy that I liked and got them done. A previous company had the same arrangement, and I had a few maternity shirts embroidered when I was pregnant. I live in a cold area, so I also got a gray cardigan done. We have also done onesies to give as a baby gift from the office when someone has a child. (For comparison, we have about 80 people in our office.)

Given that there are only four of you, maybe you can agree on a basic price... like "Go pick out a button-down shirt that works for you. We'll reimburse you up to $XX for the shirt and we will pay for the embroidery." You could specify acceptable shirt colors based on your branding and what works well with your logo.

It is some extra time and work for each person to go find/buy their own shirt, but it allows them to try things on and find what works for them, which makes it much more likely everyone will actually wear them. They could also get shirts tailored as needed before turning them in to be embroidered.
posted by scarnato at 9:15 AM on January 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

I agree with scarnato.

The manager of the Qdoba where we used to get lunch all the time was super friendly, into his work, etc. He always looked great and managerial while still sporting the company logo, because he had nicer and more interesting shirts. Turns out he did this very thing: took his own shirt of choice in to get embroidered. (Miss you, Hector!)

I thought it was a great way to show his dedication to the company while still showing that the company was willing to give him that flexibility. That would be a lot nicer for me to see as a client than simply people wearing a Uniform that they probably got from Aramark.
posted by St. Hubbins at 10:10 AM on January 19, 2016

Lands End business is what my division uses. They're helpful, friendly, and do a great job. Give them a call and explain what you're looking for; they manage to fit a range of body types.
posted by culfinglin at 11:52 AM on January 19, 2016

Update: We ordered short-sleeved shirts and sweaters (sweater vest for me) from Land's End Business Outfitters, and I'm extremely impressed with the quality, colors, and plus-sized androgynous options. A++ will totally get more stuff from them.
posted by Munching Langolier at 10:03 PM on February 15, 2016

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