There are so many places that you can pick up a dress shirt these days but it doesn't take long to notice that the cheaper the dress shirts the quicker it ends up in the landfill. Furthermore, they feel cheap, are less comfortable, have tonnes of loose stitching, and wear out really quickly. So how do you determine if what you’re buying is actually better quality? Here are some areas that you can look at to figure it out.
Check the Collar
If the collar on your shirt is a quality made collar, it should have some rigidity and a bit of a bounce when you press down on it. Similar to suiting if a shirt collar or cuff is glued and not stitched it will feel limp like thin cardboard and end up curling up on you after not too long. Make sure to look carefully at the stitching around the edges of the collar too. The stitching should be neat, straight, clean, and symmetrical.
Most high quality business shirts come with their own collar stays too. This is a sign that the business cares about the little details of the shirt. When you button up the shirt, it should also retain a natural curve around your neck.
Check the back of the shoulders (The Split Yolk)
If you look on the back of your shoulders, you should see a stretch of fabric that runs across your back from shoulder to shoulder. This is called the yolk of the shirt.
Gentleman's Gazette has a great representation of the split yolk.
High quality shirts usually have split yolks (where the middle of the yolk is split into 2). This allows your shoulders and arms to move without constraint. It does this by allowing the fabrics on the back shoulder of the shirt to stretch in two different directions which also makes the shirt more comfortable to wear.
Check the Buttons and Buttonholes
It’s all about the little details. High quality dress shirts come with mother-of-pearl buttons, not the cheap plastic ones that break in half. Other high quality buttons are the roma plastic resin button and horn buttons. If you look at the stitching that is on the buttons, it should be neat, tight, and straight. There should be no fraying in the openings. As for the button holes, they should also have tight stitching and clearly defined hole shapes.
Check the fabric type
Many high quality shirts are made of 100% cotton and are not made of any polyester-cotton blends. Bad quality shirts will fade quickly in the wash, wrinkle easily, and look loose.
Check the pattern consistency
This is easier to check if the shirt isn’t a solid colour. For example, If your shirt has stripes, they should run in the same direction on the left and right sides of the shirt. If you look at the split yolk, the lines should also be perfectly connected to each other when extending from one shoulder to the other. This shows that attention to detail and care was put into making the shirt.
Check the stitching
Poor quality shirts will have fraying in many different areas including the collar, the seams, the buttons, and many other places as well. High quality shirts should have no signs of fraying anywhere. The stitches should be tight, smooth, and clean.
High quality shirts will cost a bit more but will maintain a nice crisp shape when you’re wearing it, feel more breathable, and move well with your body but best of all will they will feel much more comfortable and last a lot longer too.