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Proper Cloth vs S&M for custom shirts?

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    Proper Cloth vs S&M for custom shirts?

    I own a number of OTR S&M shirts and really like the quality for the price. Never purchased from Proper Cloth but their fabrics (and prices) appear to be a step up from S&M.

    I’m in the market for 1-2 custom shirts for the Holiday season (my wife hates picking a gift for me) and am curious if anyone can provide a true side by side comparison of the two brands’ custom offerings. Is Proper Cloth justifiably worth 50% more per shirt?

    #2
    I see there has been some interest in the post but no responses. An update is that I went ahead and ordered some fabric swatches from PC to see firsthand if the materials seem to be worthy of the upcharge. I’m leaning towards using PC as their fabric selection seems unmatched and the S&M site still is glitchy for me, even after the site overhaul. My measurements will likely be based off one of my OTR S&M OCBDs though, as they really have the proportions honed in for me. I can update again if anyone is interested in my personal experience with proper cloth as it unfolds, otherwise, I can let this thread die if there’s no appetite.

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      #3
      I’m interested! I have two Proper Cloth shirts - I’m still working to dial in the fit, but the construction and materials seem first-rate. I’ve had bad luck with the material and construction of Spier polos - I would be curious about your comparison of their RTW shirting to PC.

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        #4
        I’ll be sure to continue posting. Thanks. I’ve done well with S&M long sleeve polos in dark colors, but I bought a button down light blue short sleeve one that I couldn’t wash in a machine. It took on colors from everything, even in just a cold wash. They sent another one free of charge and the same thing happened. Something weird with that fabric for me. Literally the only product I really struck out on from Spier.

        For the off the rack shirting from Spier, their OCBDs have been the best OTR shirts I’ve ever purchased. They also never need ironing for me as I hang dry and the fabric is thick enough that everything “falls out”. Other shirts I bought from them include 100% linen, linen/cotton, and informal cotton button downs (blue gingham and an older madras one). All of these wrinkle like crazy, so an iron is needed every single wear for all of these. Their size guides seem to be pretty spot on, and I think the contemporary fit is essential unless you want the shirt clung to you (6’0” 160lbs for reference).

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          #5
          Originally posted by Marc99 View Post
          ... and I think the contemporary fit is essential unless you want the shirt clung to you (6’0” 160lbs for reference).
          Funny, I'm 5'10" 185lbs and the slim 16/34 is about perfect (skims my upper body, but doesn't constrict) on me. I will say, with the COVID weight gain (+15 lbs, ugh) I'm just slumming it with a couple Dillards clearance shirts while I whittle back down to my fighting' weight.

          That said, if someone told me 160lbs at 6 ft I'd recommend slim or extra slim lol! Just goes to show the numbers don't paint the whole picture, body shape (I have a low barrel chest like a dude from the 40's)

          Edited to add: I'm also interested in the PC experiment, looking forward to seeing what comes of it.

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            #6
            Originally posted by Alex.C View Post

            Funny, I'm 5'10" 185lbs and the slim 16/34 is about perfect (skims my upper body, but doesn't constrict) on me.
            So fun fact, if you look at the measurements on a 16 neck slim fit and a 15.5 contemporary fit, they’re pretty darn similar (excluding the neck size difference). I wear the 15.5/33 contemporary fits, have a 15.5 slim fit and while I do fit into it, it’s just too snug for my liking. I can’t do a mainstream brand’s “classic fit”, but I do still prefer an extra inch or so on either side just as a personal preference.

            My button ups essentially consist of 15.5/33 S&M contemporary fits and 15.5/33 CT shirts extra slim fits.

            For Proper Cloth, I think I’m honing in on a chambray shirt and either a heavy flannel or a knit as a second (getting two if the fabric swatches meet my expectations).

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              #7
              I have never used either of those for custom shirts but do have one from Ratio (I think they used to be a site sponsor) - a white broadcloth that I use when I need to look really sharp. They do some casual fabrics - chambray and flannel, in addition to the formal and semi-formal ones (poplin, broadcloth, oxford, etc.). No denim as far as I can tell. Their measurements seem to be a little "tight" compared to OTR stuff - e.g. in off the rack shirts I'm almost always a 14.5 but I need to go up a size to keep from there to keep the ratio shirt collar from strangling me. Ditto with some of the other measurements - my normal sleeve length was a little too short in the shirt they initially sent me, and it was a little to tight across the chest. Once I got the fit dialed in though it fit really well.
              “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” – Mark Twain

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                #8
                I have one shirt from ratio, an ocbd, which I botched the measurements on and it came out too tight, then I found the S&M OTR ones for half the price. Ratios selection for OCBDs is really impressive, but they seem to lack in comparison to proper cloth. Looks like the fabric swatches from PC should be coming next week…

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                  #9
                  I love my Proper Cloth shirts, but I live in New York and can go in to get measured. Don’t have anything from S&M, but Proper Cloth is definitely better than CT or Suit Supply and uses thicker fabrics than Kamakura.

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                    #10
                    Update: The fabric swatches from PC came in, and with absolutely nothing against PC, I am doing an about face. I’ll be ordering a couple custom shirts from S&M. I’ll explain further below.

                    I absolutely recommend ordering the fabric samples from PC, which is a really nice feature and great that the samples are essentially free - you pay $1/sample but also receive an identical store credit. I ordered 11 fabrics to see if I could find 2 that would work for me as year round shirts that could be worn on weekends or to the office on a casual day. COVID has me wanting to get my wardrobe to a more “in between” look on the formality scale, which will ultimately mean fewer dress shoes, shirts and pants.

                    The fabrics are admittedly nice, but to me the ones I selected are just not worth $110-130 per shirt. I was primarily looking at chambray, pique knits, and Portuguese flannels. The swatches helped me see that a couple that looked good on my screen didn’t have the same appeal in person. The piques felt nice, but all but one were comparable to the pique Airism fabric or my S&M long sleeve polo fabric. One pique felt absolutely amazing, but my concern here was the transparency of the fabric. I could see my fingers through the swatch in all lighting. The chambrays felt similar to but may be made somewhere better or have a slightly different coloration than a less expensive alternative, and the flannels were extremely soft but comparable to a flannel I recently received from Lands End and wouldn’t be able to be worn year round. These comparisons, along with the big caveat that I have an OTR fit from a couple brands that I need absolutely zero changes for, has me diminishing the value I see from PC.

                    In summary, my search has taken an unexpected turn, but I actually would still endorse PC for those of you in certain situations. Start with a fabric type and goal in mind and absolutely get the fabric samples to help you pick. If you’re hard to fit, leave nearby as the reader above stated, really want buttons that are not white or predetermined if OTR, or really want the best of the best fabrics for your shirts (PC seems to have no issue stating where every fabric they carry comes from, and it’s never from sweatshop regions).

                    For me, I’ll be ordering 2-3 S&M shirts with zero alterations needed from their standard size that works for me, in chambray, denim, or flannel type fabrics - I don’t see knit shirting as an option for them. I’ll browse their standard offerings first, as some of their fall/winter line is trickling in, then resort to their custom offerings for at least 2 (I see an olive chambray that seems particularly intriguing).

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                      #11
                      I went ahead and ordered 3 custom shirts from S&M:

                      1. light blue cotton/linen popover

                      2. light blue chambray twill button down

                      3. “Blue chambray” (indigo) button down

                      Added button down collars all all three and asked for everything to be unfused and as soft as possible.

                      I still have my gripes about their website on my iPhone: can’t access the bottom row of fabrics, some fabrics are not in the full listing of fabrics but appear if you search for certain types of fabric or keywords, one chambray is spelt chambery so it doesn’t show up in any searches except if you spell it that way or stumble across it in the full listing, many fabrics only show close ups making it difficult to see the true color on a full shirt, other close ups with shirt images show vastly differently from up close to further away, and if you create a shirt and then save it for later, some completely random item (a green tie and a burgundy sportcoat in my case) get saved to your cart instead so you need to start all over. It just makes the process more difficult than it needs to be.

                      All that said, I know these will fit well and I stayed safe with the colors (all solid blues) and the cost for all three is less than what two proper cloth chambray shirts would have cost. I see it as a free popover.

                      Happy to entertain any questions anyone has about my experience or thoughts. I hope I’m not coming off as bashing or being biased towards any company, really just trying to provide my honest opinion and experiences.

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