I dipped my toes into online MTM shirting with Proper Cloth.
Oxford button down shirts are many things if not unique.
They’re a great shirt for versatility when it comes to the formality scale, being well at home with both suiting and faded jeans.
It isn’t difficult to get your hands on an oxford shirt, but it can be challenging to find one that’s right.
In my particular case, despite my having access to my own MTM facilities at cost price, I simply couldn’t track down a length of pale yellow oxford cloth at a reasonable price, in order to make one to my own specifications.
It was a search that lasted months, but came up empty, until I decided to browse Proper Cloth’s shirting fabric catalogue.
I noticed the one.
Not only was it a faded yellow, but washed after construction to create the puckering at the seams which I’ve always admired on classic American oxford button downs from the likes of Brooks Brothers, Gant and J. Press (brands which I just don’t quite fit the RTW patterns for).
It was this discovery that spurred me to try Proper Cloth’s program.
Online made to measure has thus far been a hit and miss (Luxire) experience for me, but with shirting being an easier undertaking via online measurement submissions, I decided to go for it.
I just wanted that damn yellow oxford!
Already knowing my ideal finished garment measurements, all I had to do was convert them from centimetres to inches.
I’m always a little skeptical of programs like this using inches as a measurement, given that it’s harder to get quite as precise a measurement.
Thankfully, at least, Proper Cloth’s system uses decimal points allowing adjustment of each measurement up to one tenth of an inch. This is good, as some other entry level online MTM systems I’ve inspected have been limited to adjustments of a quarter inch at the finest.
The latter simply doesn’t cut the mustard for me when it comes to adjustments on points like collar size.
The interface for the design process was quite intuitive, with plenty of diagrams to illustrate the possible options and I encountered no errors throughout the process.
I quite liked the descriptions of the different styles; for example the brand highlighting which collar choices are constructed with fusible versus those that are unlined.
This allowed me to easily determine which selections I wanted, so I chose the soft Ivy button down collar, unlined placket and cuffs.
I’m pleased to say that Proper Cloth solve an issue which most shirtmakers at an entry level don’t solve; the collar stand is tall, and the collar point length is generous. That has always been a pain point to me, as most standard shirting patterns have a collar stand which is too short to cover a tie without the loop poking out from under the collar.
No such issue with the dimensions of this collar.
The one issue I did encounter was in selecting the option of entering the measurements from scratch.
Each time I wanted to save progress, an unknown error would prevent me from saving.
I ended up having to find a workaround by selecting a preset size and altering the dimensions from that point. It was quite a serious break in the workflow, and someone less determined to get the end product would likely have abandoned the purchase.
It took about a week between submitting the order and the product being dispatched. There was no dispatch email when this happened, but I did get a text message from the shipping carrier saying that a parcel from Proper Cloth was en route to me.
Being DHL, the package got to me within a week and a half.
The shirt itself is brilliant.
I love the cloth, a beautifully soft 40’s two ply heavy oxford that wears with supreme comfort.
The construction is solid, with no stitching errors, machine made but made with precision.
Lapped seams combined with the pre-wash create the wonderful puckered effect throughout.
As mentioned earlier, the collar stand is generous and the collar point length is lovely at around 8.6cm.
The only two issues I note are that the collar and cuffs both came out larger than specified.
Luckily, I was able to move the collar button, and the cuffs aren’t outrageously big so I haven’t had to do any major work or request a remake. I did note a section of writing on the site stating that collars and cuffs are made with a tolerance for shrinking, which I understand for unwashed shirts, however given that this particular garment was ordered as a pre-washed shirt the inclusion for this tolerance would be an oversight.
Regardless, the value proposition here is quite solid, even paying the usual high shipping price to Australia.
All up, this made to measure shirt cost around the AUD$150 mark delivered.
As always with online MTM, the ability to dial in the fit is limited compared to what a real live fitter can do, but if you’re looking for a reasonably priced DIY solution – my initial experience with Proper Cloth has been a good one.
And I’m tremendously happy to finally have a decent yellow oxford button down…