Biz Casual Men of Mefi, where do you get your shirts?
September 22, 2017 7:01 AM   Subscribe

I have to wear business casual everyday (chinos/wool pants, button up shirt). I hate it and it's killing me because I hate button-up shirts. Do you have a button-up shirt you love that's comfortable and well-cut and looks ok? Tell me about it.

Most of mine are from Gap, a couple from J-Crew. The J-Crew ones tend to be better because they are a bit lighter, better quality, fit a bit better, but still not super great. I generally find button-up shirts to be uncomfortable and I think I look kind of stupid in them. But this is The Uniform of 9-5 Men and so here I am.

I guess what I'm looking for are:

-Comfort. I have to move a lot and want a comfortable shirt.
-Fit. I want it to fit well, not too tight, not too bulky. I'm an average built 6'1", 180 pound dude. I'm sort of in-between most slim-fit shirts and regular fits, which kind of makes it hard.

I'm not looking for traditional dress-shirts that are worn with a suit. That's a bit too dressed up for my workplace. I tend to favor lighter materials, but am not opposed to an Oxford type if it's comfortable. I dislike when shirts are too short and I have to continually tuck them back in. I want the shirt to both fit well without making me feel constricted. I know, it's a tall order.

I don't really want to spend a million dollars a shirt but I am willing to spend more for the right shirt that will last a bit and that I'll actually want to wear.

Thank you all in advance.
posted by Lutoslawski to Shopping (31 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Van Heusen has a decent mix of button-up shirts in a variety of colors - look for the no-iron/wrinkle free selections. If you want variety, check out their neckties while you're there; they have tons.

Kohl's has some softer button-ups, but you really need to take the time to try them on, as the quality can be a bit hit-or-miss. Especially for Big & Tall sizes.

If you're really intent on comfort, get a good undershirt, preferably cotton. You'll sweat more, but acrylic/polyester blends can actually cause rashes (and hives, even!) when too much of the overlying shirt blocks the way, as it caused the oils in your pores to have little else to go. (This happens to hikers and mountain bikers who dress in layers as well.)

Hope this helps.
posted by Smart Dalek at 7:17 AM on September 22, 2017

i really like the no-iron shirts i pick up at men's wearhouse (their in-store selection is worlds above their online selection). rather than solid colors i tend to like the stripes or checked shirts.

they almost always have a sale going on so it's rare i'm spending more than $40-50 a shirt.
posted by noloveforned at 7:17 AM on September 22, 2017

I think everyone except actual models is between slim and regular. I used to think that this was just because I was kind of fat, and then I lost some weight, and it's still the same problem.

I am shorter than you, so I don't know how they'll work for you, but most of my new button-fronts I get from American Eagle, stupidly enough. I don't think they compare unfavorably to J Crew (which has gotten so cheap lately) and they cost less.

But do you have access to a consignment shop or use eBay? I have, like, a lot of button-fronts, and they're almost all second hand Polo Ralph Lauren. RL shirts are very standard in sizing and quality, so they're easy to buy online, but they are still a mass production item so the second hand prices aren't bad, but they're made well enough that a second hand shirt is in better condition than secondhand Gap, J Crew, etc. Secondhand Brooks Brothers shirts are similar, but their collars tend to overwhelm me - but as a tall person, you might have better luck.

It seems like you're looking at mass produced shirts, not US-made/de luxe, etc - so have you looked at Lands End? I got a couple of their oxford cloth shirts on sale and they were pretty decent - not a patch on the older ones you find used, but not bad. There too, LE tends to be pretty standardized, so once you know what fits, it's easy to order online.

If you felt like spending a mint of money, Gant tends to cut shirts that assume that you get taller but not much fatter - by the time I'm at a shirt that fits in the chest, it's much longer in the arms and body than comparable shirts from other places. But even on sale, those aren't cheap - I got one as a present from the post-Christmas sale, and it was still, like, a lot, which I know because I had to return it because of the arms. Their fabrics are very nice.
posted by Frowner at 7:21 AM on September 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

I forgot to mention shopping the brick-and-mortar Van Heusens, rather than on Amazon.

The store selections are much better.

And for other soft men's dress shirts, Liz Claiborne (JC Penney), Hugo Boss (Macy's) and Joseph Abboud (again Macy's) are great for a higher budget, without hitting the three figure mark.
posted by Smart Dalek at 7:22 AM on September 22, 2017

Target's new men's line Goodfellow is really nice. Seriously.
posted by k8t at 7:23 AM on September 22, 2017

Have you tried shirts with a bit of stretch? I absolutely love Old Navy's Slim-Fit Built-In Flex Oxford, and I have similar stretchy shirts from other sub-Gap level stores (Hollister, American Eagle, etc). I have also fallen in love with stretch khakis and jeans and I am very angry that women have been hoarding stretch technology for so long. Viva la stretch!
posted by Rock Steady at 7:23 AM on September 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you're amenable to short sleeves, I picked up a bunch of Gildan performance jersey collared shirts from Blank Apparel for $10/shirt in a variety of colors. This is month six of wearing them regularly and, other than a few loose threads here and there, have held their shape well.

They wear like a dry-fit shirt (i.e., light, airy), are long enough for me at 6' to stay tucked in all day, and absolutely work as business casual wear at the office day-to-day.

For more formal collared shirts, Brooks Brothers no-iron shirts really are the most comfortable and best looking shirts out there. I am similar height/weight (not sure how yours hangs, but I have wide shoulders) and I find the Regent Fit is damn near perfect for 6'/180.
posted by notorious medium at 7:35 AM on September 22, 2017

You might check pricing at a local tailor about making you custom shirts to your measurements. I did this for my husband once as a gift and discovered they're really not that expensive - I think they were $99 apiece, which is pretty much J. Crew pricing.
posted by something something at 7:37 AM on September 22, 2017

Nordstrom's in-house brand no-iron shirts are my favorite by a lot. They are comfortable and look nice and you just wash and dry them with your regular old laundry and they come out like champs.

There is usually a sale once or twice a year where you can get them for $30-40 bucks.
posted by AgentRocket at 7:37 AM on September 22, 2017

This might sound counter-intuitive, but made-to-measure shirts, or even bespoke, are better value over the long term. They fit perfectly, are better made, you can choose from a wide variety of fabrics, they last longer, you can have them made as long as you like, and the shirt-maker can provide extra sets of cuffs and collars, to replace them when they start to get ragged around the edges, doubling the life of the shirt. It shouldn't be too difficult to find a local guy, or a visiting tailor, you could try one of the online offerings, like MTailor.
posted by Cobalt at 7:43 AM on September 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yeah, definitely consider custom, but be prepared to spend a lot of money up front - there's usually a cutting fee if you don't buy a minimum number at a time (I think it's 4 shirts from my guy). Pricing is based on the fabrics you choose. It can be a lot of fun to go through the huge binders of fabric swatches and find something you really like. If you find something you really like, you could even buy four or five identical shirts and rotate them out which will extend their lives.

To keep them from shrinking, hang dry instead of using the dryer.
posted by backseatpilot at 8:00 AM on September 22, 2017

I have a bunch of shirts from Uniqlo that I really love, but there aren't a lot of brick and mortar Uniqlos in the US so sizing might be a roll of the dice. They do a good button down oxford, but I also have a bunch of Uniqlo comfort easycare shirts which are a kind of stretchy non-iron material that looks like an oxford shirt. Very comfortable.
posted by Comrade_robot at 8:10 AM on September 22, 2017 [3 favorites]

My boyfriend is your size and he gets most of his work clothes from bonobos. They look and fit him great and are pretty nice quality.
posted by pazazygeek at 8:10 AM on September 22, 2017

Yep, looks like Indochino's (full custom) shirts are on sale to where they're on par with J Crew. Can be customized with buttondown collar and prints for even more casualness.
posted by supercres at 8:11 AM on September 22, 2017

I'm a Stafford (sold at JC Penney) "fitted" no-iron stan. Been wearing them for over a decade, and hope to wear them for decades more. They're relatively inexpensive, fit really well (6'2, 180 lbs), and hold up well. They're often on sale for half-off.
posted by General Malaise at 8:29 AM on September 22, 2017

Try shirts containing a little spandex or Lycra, so they stretch. They look normal, but are hugely more comfortable. Banana Republic has a whole line of men's stretch workwear.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 8:37 AM on September 22, 2017

Seconding Lands' End oxfords. That used to be literally all I wore, back when I was closer to your weight haha. Plus Lands' End does sales all the time. I just got an email for 40% off. Look in the dress shirt section of the website - more colors, and they're still quite soft and not at all stiff.

Now that I'm bigger than you, I wear Old Navy regular fit. They're comparable to my J. Crew shirts, but cheaper. They're nice enough but probably won't wow you.
posted by kevinbelt at 8:44 AM on September 22, 2017

What's your inseam? I ask because I'm thinking about the shirts coming untucked thing. If you have a longer torso, maybe you need longer shirts (i.e. "tall" sizes). For the record, I'm a lady who is not tall but has a long torso and sometimes tall sizes work better for me in women's clothing. I'm making the assumption that it works similarly in men's clothing.
posted by purple_bird at 8:51 AM on September 22, 2017

I tend to look at Nordstrom stuff on sale as mentioned above, but also sales at outdoorsy places like LL Bean, Lands End and Orvis. They seem to get that sturdy, relaxed, business casual niche you're seeking.
posted by sapere aude at 9:45 AM on September 22, 2017

I used to go to Banana Republic for this sort of thing. Definitely better than Gap; similar to J Crew.
For a step up, check out the Calibrate brand at Nordstrom. They're well-made, fitted dress shirts (yes, this makes them more comfortable, as well as less likely to come untucked) that are usually pretty good looking. And they're pretty affordable.
Also, check out Nordstrom Rack if you have one near you. You can often pick up shirts for fraction of their original price.
posted by nickthetourist at 10:22 AM on September 22, 2017

I'm a couple of inches taller and about 10 lbs heavier than you and I nth Banana Republic. I don't have particularly strong opinions on cloths, but usually wear short sleeved button down shirts to work and their stuff is comfortable and inoffensive.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 10:25 AM on September 22, 2017

You mention Jesus Crew. I'm your height and weight 200 lbs, and I find that slim fit oxfords from J Crew are near perfect for me even though I am not very slim. YMMV depending on your arms and shoulders and how your weight is distributed, but you may find that they have some oxfords still on steep post-Labor Day discount, and I believe you can return sale items.

Seconding Land's End, I think their "Sail-Rigged" oxford is nice. Uniqlo stuff is made pretty slim, but probably work for someone of your weight.

If you can find some older Brooks Bros oxfords on eBay, they may hit that between-slim-and-regular fit.
posted by kensington314 at 12:25 PM on September 22, 2017

Seconding Uniqlo. My husband has recently started getting clothing from there and loves it. They also have sales fairly frequently.
posted by FireFountain at 12:40 PM on September 22, 2017

Target's new men's line Goodfellow is really nice. Seriously.

And Target regularly has a 30% off rack, usually towards the end of seasons. You're probably too late for the big sell-off of their previous brands, but I make it a point to check out the clearance rack anytime I'm in a Target.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 12:41 PM on September 22, 2017

posted by grouse at 1:28 PM on September 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Nthing uniqlo, though I'm a shade taller and skinnier than you. Also I order from UK shirt shop TM Lewin, their shirts are fantastic, seriously great.
posted by smoke at 3:28 PM on September 22, 2017

While it might be slightly more formal than you're looking for, Kamakura Shirts is amazing value for money - great workmanship and materials.
posted by LingeringMoon at 10:36 PM on September 22, 2017

A number of Lands End styles are available in three cuts - slim, tailored and regular. Tailored may hit the spot you're looking for.
posted by Carbolic at 10:48 PM on September 22, 2017

Gitman Vintage – they're really well-made and have lots of different fabrics and patterns (from very basic/conservative to completely nuts). They're not cheap, but they are classic, will last a very long time, and are made in Pennsylvania. You can typically find some sales from Gitman and other retailers at the end of the season.
posted by suprenant at 2:24 PM on September 23, 2017

Third-ing custom. I always used to feel sort of silly and uncomfortable in off the rack shirts because I'm an unusual size. When I started to get bespoke shirts, it was a revelation. Shirts that fit perfectly just feel so comfortable, they are a joy to wear.
posted by odin53 at 6:23 PM on September 24, 2017

Response by poster: This thread turned out to be a goldmine. I'm going to go shopping based on all of these fantastic suggestions. I really appreciate all your comments. Thank you everyone!!!
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:13 PM on October 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

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