The Denim Dress Shirt

March 9, 2015

The Denim Dress Shirt

Dress shirt fabrics are pretty straightforward. Most are plain weaves, twills, and oxfords. Some are end-on-ends. In solid colors and stripes – and in whites and light blues – you can have a wardrobe of just these fabrics and essentially have the tailored-side of your shirt wardrobe covered. 

If you want to dress down a sport coat or casual suit, however, it’s useful to have some things in slightly more unusual materials. Maybe some linens or brushed cottons, or some things with bolder patterns. There’s also denim, which isn’t a fabric you typically think of when it comes to dress shirts, but it can look great underneath the right jacket.

I fell in love with the idea last year, when I saw this Hodinkee episode with John Goldberger. He’s seen wearing a hard-finished, checked tweed; a pair of tan, five-pocket corduroy pants; and a light-blue, washed denim shirt. The shirt and corduroys are a great way to dress down the tweed jacket, but also complement its rustic sensibility. 

Proper Cloth’s Custom Denim Shirts

I’ve been looking for a denim shirt ever since, so I was pretty excited to hear that Proper Cloth is putting together a custom denim shirt run. Ready-to-wear denim shirts are often too casual or don’t fit well, while custom ones look too much like office-wear. In order to get a denim shirt to look right, you have to put it through a special enzyme wash. That helps age the fabric in a way that gives it a more relaxed and casual appearance. 

Most custom shirtmakers aren’t able to offer special washes because they don’t have the necessary quantities to justify them. Proper Cloth, however, is organizing a large, but limited, run in order to get access to such washing machines. Two hundred spots will be available for sale on March 12th, with early access on March 11th for people who pre-register

The fabric they’ll be using a medium-heavy, two-ply, denim from Albiate (a high-end Italian mill that’s part of the Albini Group). The weight is light enough to be worn under a sport coat, but also heavy enough for casual wear. The denim starts off raw, but will then be put through one of two washes. One results in a darker color; the other lighter. Stylistic details, such as collar and cuff style, are of course fully customizable. 

At $150 a pop, these aren’t cheap, but if this same fabric was used for a ready-to-wear shirt, the price would be about the same. Online made-to-measure orders sometimes take a few trial runs to hone-in on the fit, so if you’re iffy about self-measurements, you can also send them your best fitting shirt to copy. I’ve already ordered my spot for $150 and am planning to do just that. 

Disclosure: Proper Cloth is a sponsor of Put This On. However, this post is not paid promotion. Our editorial policies can be read here.

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