Charles Tyrwhitt are a well known Jermyn Street shirtmaker.
They offer a wide range of shirtings and often have sales that can see their shirts become a real bargain. Many in the menswear community consider them to be a good entry level shirt company.
I have a few CT shirts in my wardrobe, and have gone through the time and effort to find my fit and try a range of different fabrics to compose this review.
While CT offers a range of other clothing including polos, knitwear, suits and accessories I will keep this review centred on their primary product: shirts.
I’ve tried cotton shirts from CT in poplin, twill, chambray and linen. I have also tried Egyptian cotton and non-iron modifiers.
One thing I noticed about some of the poplin business shirts is that the fabric is quite thin and light. Even a coloured shirt will often show the presence of an undershirt, which is something I don’t usually see. For example, a sky blue CT shirt showed my undershirt collar while none of my other sky blue shirts do so. As a caveat, this does make them better in the heat.
This is limited to the business shirts; the poplin fabrics used in the casual shirts don’t suffer from this issue but also don’t feel as soft on the skin. They vary in texture; I have one poplin casual shirt that feels like a thicker version of the business shirt fabric, and another that feels almost like denim.
I have found the twill fabrics to be quite good. They’re thicker and don’t show your undershirt’s presence, while still feeling good on the skin.
The chambray shirt I have feels sturdy but still soft on the skin. It is probably the best feeling of the fabrics I’ve tried from CT.
I don’t wear it much, however, as the collar is too short for my liking on the Weekend series of casual shirts (measures around 7cm collar point length).
The short length combined with a lightweight interlining means these are a prime candidate for becoming fly-away collars.
See more on the chambray under the ‘Casual Shirts’ title in the next section.
I’m by no means an expert on shirt construction, but I did make a few notes regardless:
The stitching seems solid and the construction fairly sturdy. There are pleats in the sleeves of all of the business shirts I’ve seen. Sleeve cuffs are two button cuffs by default, with French cuffs available as an option for some. The collar length is good and sits under jackets well, with tie or sans tie. Cuffs and collars are fused, some with thicker interlining than others.
The cuffs are single button by default. Something I noticed about the casual shirts is that the collars are a tad skinny. They don’t sit so well under a jacket, though I’ve seen worse; they will sit temporarily at least (long enough for a photo, but not much more). Collars and cuffs are fused.
The below example pics are quite old – I’ve stopped wearing these shirts for their bothersome collars, some months ago.
Finding a Fit
Charles Tyrwhitt offers a range of sizes and sleeve lengths, with various fits – Classic, Slim and Extra Slim – available.
I’ve had to try a few different sizes across the business and casual lines in order to find the best fit for me. I’ve noticed that the sizings are occasionally inconsistent among the casual shirts, but the business shirt sizings have been consistent.
One of the high points of CT’s ordering process is the sheer variety of options when it comes to sizing. The size is determined by selecting neck size and sleeve length.
The sizing chart has variations in dimensions based off the neck size you choose, while sleeve length changes only the sleeves.
When I initially placed an order, the size 41 (equivalent to a size 16) neck seemed to be best suited to my dimensions but when they arrived I felt that they were a little on the snug side. Seeing that the stated measurements for the 42 looked a little larger than I prefer, I decided to stick with what I had; the tautness is only really noticeable slightly at the centre placket when standing (which is covered by a necktie) or somewhat noticeable while sitting.
It wasn’t until I thrifted a size 42 (equivalent to size 16.5) that I realised the measurements on these were a near perfect fit for me. I usually take a size 16 in other brands like Ralph Lauren, so this came as a surprise to me.
Unfortunately, however, the collar size is almost too large for me to wear with a necktie at the 42 – the collar measures 43cm around.
Hopefully if you’re new to CT shirts you’ve had the chance to read this before placing your first order, and make sure to size up by half a size from your regular. It’ll save you some time.
I have found that I am unfortunately in between sizes for much of the casual range. According to the size chart, I am closer to the Medium size in slim fit; unfortunately the chest is a smidgin too small in some shirts and considerably too small in one of the casual shirts I tried. In the case of the one that was much too small, at least it gave me a chance to test out the returns process.
I also tried two Larges in the slim fit; one requires slimming in the sides, torso and sleeves (I’m yet to do it). The other fit me quite well out of the bag. Based on this, i can only conclude that there is some variance in the sizings.
If you find yourself fairly close to fitting one of the casual shirt sizes, it’d be a pretty good value offering.
Service, Delivery and Returns
I’ve found the customer service to be prompt and helpful when I’ve engaged with them. Communication throughout shipping, delivery and returns is excellent and timely.
I found the delivery speed to run within 2 weeks to Australia. The dispatch speed is good, happening the next business day. Much better than I have experienced with some other entry level shirting brands, like TM Lewin.
I also found the returns process to be quite easy and painless. I had to exchange one shirt when I found that upon receiving not only was it too small but the pattern and style simply didn’t work for me. All that was required of me was to fill out a quick exchange form online, done in about 30 seconds. I was then emailed a return label plus a return form; the label to be placed over the one on the original delivery bag and the return form for inside the bag, to speed up the process in their distribution centre.
CT allows for you to take up to 180 days in lodging the return parcel once you start a return, so there’s absolutely no pressure to hurry it up. It took me a while to get around to shipping it off, but once I did the turnaround time was great; I had my replacement within 3 weeks of lodging it.
Conclusion: is it worth it?
I think that given the pricing and frequent sales, Charles Tyrwhitt offers an excellent entry level shirt. It might take a while to find your size, and the fabrics won’t be the most luxurious; however free returns negate issues surrounding finding a fit (except for time) and the price point makes it pretty hard to pass up on CT in this price bracket.
There’s a quote from respected menswear author Bruce Boyer that talks about priorities in clothing, and while I can’t quite remember it verbatim the essence is that fit and function should be considered the kings, rather than fabric or price.
See how I style my Tyrwhitt shirts and a host of other classic menswear items on my Instagram @samtalksstyle.