The Perfect Shirt | Top 5 Ways to Know if You’re Buying a Luxury Shirt

Today I’m going to give you 5 things that make the difference on a luxury dress shirt. I’ve been running Hawkins & Shepherd for around 6 years now and have acquired a lot of knowledge and experience in the shirt making industry. Here are some things that I look out for immediately when determining the quality of a shirt.

THE COLLAR

The collar on a man’s dress shirt needs to be high quality. The first thing I look for is edge stitching. What is edge stitching? This is a term given when the stitching runs to the edge of the seam It’s harder to do as a tailor because there is less room for error so therefore it takes longer. It’s a technique that takes greater skill.

Most shirts will have quarter edge stitching.

Another thing to look out for on the collar is whether the collar is non-fused. There will be a lining in a collar that is sometimes fused to the fabric on one if not both sides. It’s a cheaper and quicker way to manufacture shirts. Sadly that adhesive used to fuse the collar can perish and react with the fabric over time and washes. You may have recognised a bubbling effect on your collars if you’re buying entry level shirts. To test whether you are buying a quality dress shirt you should be able to pull the fabric away from the lining on both sides. 

Lastly don’t forget about the removable collar stays. Entry level shirts will have them fused in which can be problematic when ironing. Plus ironing over plastic is not desirable and over time will leave nasty indentations on the collar.

STITCHING

Let’s talking about stitching on a dress shirt. Stitching is the most expensive part when it comes to manufacturing. Especially if the shirt is composed using single needle side seam stitching. (Try saying that after one too many Heinekens). A cheaper method of manufacturing is to use the double needle. But single needle leaves a beautiful finish.  

THE SPLIT YOKE  

The all-important split yoke. I’m talking about the block of fabric situated on the back of the shirt that sits over the shoulders. A split yolk means that 2 pieces of fabric lay over the shoulders. It fits better on the shoulders and there is more flow if you have a split yolk. If there is a pattern shirt then it’s more of a design aspect as to whether you chose to have a split yoke.

Personally I like a non-split yoke when its striped or checked. Watch for a split yoke on a lower quality shirt, quite often the patterns will not match up. 

FRONT PLACKET 

I love it clean no stitching. These might come down to personal preferences but there are certain features that will distinguish a luxury dress shirt.

The front placket should without question have mother of pearl buttons mother of pearl buttons, tightly sewn to the placket.

 Every buttonhole should be sewn vertically, apart from the bottom one. This needs to be sewn horizontally which will allow freedom of movement. The bottom button hole will often be the one that sees the most action and needs to flex with the body.  

Talking of movement, look at the gusset of the shirt. A well-constructed shirt will have the triangle area to allow for more movement. It also cleans the hem to a nice finish.

 Some shirts are over engineered with different fabric on the front. I personally don’t see this as a luxury choice. Just extra fuss and a distraction.

The fabric entry level for a luxury shirt will be a  cotton twin 100's. The higher you go up in the yarn count the finer is going to be and more often the softer. Lower yarn count like 40’s, 60’s will be a thicker fabric and not conducive for a dress shirt.

SLEEVES

It’s crucial that the shoulders line up pattern wise with the arms. Again there should be no fused linings in the cuff. I also look for a smaller button on the sleeve placket. I love double button cuff personally, but that it not deemed a feature of luxury, more tradition. If I have a sharp cut in the collar I would also look the same in the cuff, rounded cuffs and collar. 

Introducing the Luxury Shirt Collection by Hawkins & Shepherd

Today I'm very excited to announce the launch of The Luxury Collection by Hawkins & Shepherd. It's been in the pipeline now for a long time. This collection of luxury shirts uses the finest fabrics in the world and the highest level of handmade shirt tailoring.

Within the collection I have two different kinds of luxury shirts; the Cashmerello shirt which is a luxurious blend of 15% Cashmere and 85% two fold 120's Swiss Cotton and the Soyella Duecento shirt which are a Two-ply 2/200 fabric.

Tell me what makes these shirts luxury?

Mens shirts have become something of an obsession for me. I have to have the best quality, the best fabric, the best cut. The finish on these London shirts are just beautiful. Look at the stitching on the collar, it's as close to the edge as you can get which denotes the quality.

Now look at the stitching on the collar of a Charles Tyrwhitt shirt. You can immediately see how safe the stitching is because they've brought the finish in at least 10ml from the collar edge.

Please note this is not an attack on Charles Tyrwhitt shirts. From online reviews they provide adequate shirts at an accessible price. I'm merely attempting to clarify and distinguish what makes my shirts superior and where the extra money is being spent.

The cuffs on both shirts are double buttoned only the Cashmerello shirt comes with curve edges, whilst the Soyella Duecento shirt features cut edges. Both are adorned with mother of pearl buttons.

For what occasions can I wear these luxury shirts? 

These are not dress shirts, the colours are not conducive to black tie events. Unless you buy them in white of course. However, men’s formal shirts are not quite as formal as they once were. With the advent of casual Friday and the up rise of men working from home, men are no longer restricted to wearing white shirts to the office. 

Luxury shirts brands such as Hawes and Curtis, Thomas Pink and Turnbull & Asser have also cottoned on to this (pardon the pun) with their recent capsules introducing dress-down collections. 

I'd recommend these UK shirts for most formal events. If you're looking to make a statement and want to feel confident when walking into a room. 

ALL ABOUT MICRO PRINTS THIS SEASON AT HAWKINS & SHEPHERD

As the bell rang for the start of the Moda Exhibition trade show this morning at 9:30am, it's was a perfect time to give you the low down on my brand Hawkins & Shepherd of which I have spent the last 3 years refining. Mainly we're an online brand, but this year is my assault on the high streets of the U.K. so hopefully you guys will finally have the chance to feel and try on our quality products. You shouldn't have to settle for second best and you won't ever have to with Hawkins & Shepherd. So wish us luck for this show.

Hawkins & Shepherd started its life selling traditional 1920's style pin collar shirts, we had and still have the largest pin collar range found anywhere worldwide and this range is ever increasing as it's still our signature product. This year as part of a large scale restyling across the brand and in keeping with market trends, I have designed our first button-down smart casual shirt, available in plain pinpoint weave fabrics as well as print textiles milled in Portugal. 

Prints have been trending among the fashion elite since 2012, with the designs moving away from (now tacky) large animal prints, to smaller floral and now smaller again we are in the era of the micro-print and it's only now that these prints are suitable for shirt design. There is a reason why plain shirts sell best and it's because we like to accessorise with pattern ties and pocket squares. Too much print is a big no no, print on print is a struggle to get right and often ends up too garish. However with the micro print being subtle and discrete, it opens up new possibilities in shirt design and styling of which Hawkins & Shepherd has now dipped its toes into.

Further to our new shirt offerings, we have entered into a partnership collaboration with woman's wear tailor 'to the celebs' Calder London on our very first suit and overcoat range, using British fabrics from Holland & Sherry which are the finest in the world. We have designed a limited edition 100% cashmere overcoat in classic camel and navy which will be retailing at £1,600. If this is not for you, we also have a cashmere blend (20% cashmere, 80% wool) overcoat available in dark grey (burgundy on the underside of collar) and navy (orange on the underside of collar) which will retail at £985. Our suits, which are again British Holland & Sherry fabrics and 100% wool. Hawkins & Shepherd will offer a windowpane/prince of Wales check and small hounds-tooth designs in both single and double breasted cuts. These are retailing at £775. All available to trade this weekend at Moda and will be available online at www.hawkinsandshepherd.com from the 1st March.

I guess looking in, it all sounds great as I'm brilliant at sugar coating things but it has been a hard slog, if I'm honest. All of this has not come easy and I'm still in so many respects struggling to take the brand to another level. It has been 2.5 years of hard graft, with many successes and failures, although it's the failures that I learn most from. I'm not sure if you know but Hawkins & Shepherd is totally a one man band, it's me, the designer, accountant, tea-boy the lot...and I have SO much passion for my brand...so its hard when I don't have immediate success overnight!! I've given up so much to build Hawkins & Shepherd, from giving up a rewarding career, an early night is something of a rarity these days, my front room is now a storage room for shirts, I now work harder than I ever have and the salary, well what salary!!! Saying that I love every minute of it, I love sharing with my readers stories of my brand and other brands that I work with. I also now have a greater knowledge of what makes menswear products great which I can pass on to you. 

So finishing with a shameless plea, please please please help SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL BLOGGER (me!) AND BRAND (Hawkins & Shepherd)!!! It would mean the world to me...just call it a donation, to help me build the brand xx

 

SHOP THE LOOK

SHOP MICRO-PRINT SHIRTS

Photo Credit Sophie Milner

HOW TO WEAR GINGHAM CHECKS

When looking at shirt trends this Spring Summer, I immediately think of the gingham check worn in a smart casual look. Here I have chosen to wear a penny cutaway collar shirt but this look would also work well with a casual button-down collar.

This is a great versatile look that can span through Spring & Summer:

Spring: On cool days, add a thin jumper. When the sun peeks out from behind the clouds or for a more casual look just remove your blazer roll the sleeves. 

Summer: Leave the blazer at home, roll the sleeves. The shirt would also work well with shorts over a white t-shirt and unbuttoned.

But what is Gingham check?

First and foremost it is a check fabric, woven so that the difference colours contrast in subtle and bold tones and can be found in different size checks. 

Gingham is a medium-weight balanced plain-woven fabric made from dyed cotton or cotton-blend yarn. It is made of carded, medium or fine yarns, where the colouring is on the warp yarns and always along the grain.

 

SHOP THE LOOK

Reiss Grey Blazer  | Hawkins & Shepherd Shirt | ASOS Boots | Hawkins & Shepherd Socks | ASOS Jeans

WEDDING STYLE ADVICE FOR GROOMS

We all know that as a groom, your involvement in wedding planning and in particular - decision making is limited to none! So this post is to help the bride and groom (together!) decide on the groom and grooms party wedding day attire. One extremely important part of the wedding is dressing yourself, so take action and look as dapper as possible.

One thing I have noticed recently with wedding styling is that more and more men are opting against tradition and moving towards a more modern tailored look. 

Still, a healthy number of grooms opt for long-tail suits with large cravat ties however a large proportion of the country are moving away from this trend. What I'm seeing more  of are themed weddings, such as vintage (think french lace wedding dresses) or 1920's charleston to name a couple, which are pushing the men to follow suit in terms of styling.

Moreover looking into the grooms party specifically, there seems to be a lot styling based on hierarchy and age. And it goes something like this:

Groom > Best men > Ushers & Family Members

You can mix up the looks based on the Shirt, Pocket Square, Tie or Socks. you should keep the suits and colour of shoes constant. During a recent wedding I helped style for, we mixed up the shirt styles as below. From left to right:

Groom - Pin Collar  Best men - Tab Collar  Ushers - Tab Collar Curve  Family - Formal Classic

At luxury shirt brand Hawkins & Shepherd they offer FREE Wedding style advice for men. You can contact them here with your questions.

If you are struggling with colour matching your wedding, here are some menswear colour styling for inspiration: