I’ve been enamoured by western shirts for some time.
From a young age, I always liked western movies and the clothes the cowboys wore in them.
I was always a jeans guy rather than a chinos guy.
The hats never fascinated me too much, because it felt costumey.
But the shirts were, and are, something that has remained just as wearable today as ever.
The classic detailing is great.
Angled yokes, front and back.
Rugged fabrics, usually denim.
Most of the time, pearl snaps.
The details combine into a style that fits uniquely into menswear today, occupying a spectrum between super casual and ability to dress up with casual suiting and/or a knitted tie.
Originally, I was more interested in buying a ready to wear westerner.
My first stop was the known denim brands, Levi’s, Lee and Wrangler.
These had pearl snaps, which I really wanted to have.
However, the collars were too small on all of them.
The fits on Levi’s and Lee were also odd.
I found a Wrangler fit that I liked, and bought a couple. One in tan, one in multicoloured stripes.
I got them cheap. However, any blue denim ones of that particular run that I liked, were going to cost the same (if not more) than getting a sample of my own design made up.
Plus the Wrangler didn’t have the sawtooth pockets; neither did it have the large collar stand and long points that I tend towards in my own creations.
The other option I considered for a while was considerably more upmarket, and higher quality.
The Bryceland’s sawtooth westerner, which has a cult following among menswear guys.
It had all the details I wanted.
However, the sizing just didn’t work for me.
As with many RTW garments, I’m inbetween sizes.
I would have needed to either have it too tight in the torso, or too big in the collar.
Neither was acceptable.
The shirtmaker we use at my workplace had all the right design options for the westerner I wanted, with the exception of being able to use pearl snaps.
I decided to make up a pattern and give it a go, despite having to use normal buttons. That wasn’t a deal breaker.
And it allowed me to specify the generous collar size and stand that I use for all of the other shirts I’ve had made through work.
I was very pleased with the prototype.
Having my shirt fit dialled in, I knew it’d fit well, but it’s still a good feeling to see when you’ve nailed it.
With the style now designed, I’m thinking of having another made, without buttons or buttonholes.
That way, I can put pearl snaps on it by hand.
In the mean time, I’m enjoying wearing this one. It’s great, and goes with a wide range of colours and fabrics. So far I’ve worn it with cords and various shades of denim.
It’ll go nicely with flannels too, though I’m yet to pair them.
I initially worried that the shade of the denim I used wouldn’t work with dark denim, as I thought the colours would coexist in the uncanny valley of closeness that tends to make things look subpar.
However, I was pleasantly surprised, as the shirt works great with my dark denim.
It’s even better with a pair of whites.
I’ve quickly fallen in love with wearing this shirt.
The incredible versatility, the design features being almost exactly what I wanted, and a collar size that frames my face the way I want it.
What’s not to love?