This year, resolve to look less like a caricature of a 1980s Wall Streeter at the office. With a surge in custom shirting services, there is no need to drown in ill-fitting dress shirts that are either too baggy at the bottom or too loose up top.
Our best pick to overhaul your closet is Proper Cloth, the New York-based custom online shirtmaking service founded by MIT graduate Seph Skerritt. You do not have to book a fitting at his sleek Soho showroom to buy one of his expertly crafted shirts, though it helps.
Instead, anyone can head to the Proper Cloth website, peruse its arsenal of over 500 fabrics (categorized by style, pattern, thickness, pattern and more) and then provide a few readily-known details—your height, weight, usual suit size, sleeve length... the usual—to determine your perfect fit. There are a few wildcard questions, notably about the size of your beer belly or lack thereof, to ensure its team of shirtmakers get it right.
"The algorithm is always getting better too," Skerritt told us from his Soho showroom as young entrepreneur-types met rifled through racks of crisp twill shirts. "Now we have a full-time data science person as well. As we get more and more data, you can make it more and more customized."
"I want it to be questions you know, not like, 'Oh, I gotta run out and check.' It's like, 'Okay, I already know my height; I know my weight.'"
You can design a shirt to your precise style predilections, but the shirtmaking process is uniform. Each is custom-made and hand-assembled and then shipped to your doorstep in just about two weeks. If there is a problem with the fit, send in a few photos to the Proper Cloth customer service team, and they will have it altered free of charge.
Despite its array of choices, the brand has an unshakable core aesthetic. Skerritt is fond of crisp white shirts, and his partiality to blue shows in his swelling ready-to-wear offerings, like navy cashmere sweaters and vests. His style undeniably has a modern New York or San Franciscan bent while his fabrics are sourced primarily from Italian mills.
"We see ourselves as this American brand that has a lot of Italian influences," Skerritt said. "We're biased towards blue, but most customers are."
Beyond business attire, Proper Cloth is steadily dipping its toes into more casual waters. Flannels are a recent addition as are twill plaid shirts. A standout is its new line of custom indigo chambray shirts, which are woven and indigo dyed in Japan.
"If you want a washed indigo shirt custom fit to you, forget about it. It's impossible. It's only cost-effective to enzyme wash these in bulk so other custom shirtmakers can't offer this. It's just out of the cards," Skerrit said.
"Because we have scale and because we're organized and have the technology, we're able to do it for a limited time and say, 'Hey, get your orders in. We're gonna do a round of these.' The delivery is a little slower, but the faded details on these... it's a really special, unique product."
Head over to ProperCloth.com to get a jumpstart on your new shirt collection.