As I wrote recently, my usual dress shirt has died. Kamakura not only killed the placket on their dress shirts, but they changed the collars and cuffs, which is one of the reasons I went to them in the first place. So they’re dead to me.
For years, people have been telling me about Proper Cloth, but I’ve blown it off. Until recently, my shirt game was covered and I had no reason to look further. When substandard new shirts arrived from Kamakura, I finally had a reason.
At a friend’s urging, I remember looking at Proper Cloth years ago. What I don’t remember is seeing all the customization options they have now. Whether all these options were always there or whether Proper Cloth has expanded its offerings over time I don’t know. What I do know is that I was very happy to see options that Kamakura had abandoned: handsome, well-made and affordable dress shirts with plackets and unfused (soft) collars and cuffs in a nice cotton broadcloth.
My existing collection of seven Kamakura dress shirts is still in good shape, with only two of them just starting to show their age. But I wanted to “audition” Proper Cloth to make sure they were they were the right choice when the time comes for more new shirts.
A smarter version of me would have taken notes on the sizing process with Proper Cloth. I didn’t. But fear not. My overall memory of the process can be summed up in one word: painless. Other than the requisite neck and sleeve measurement questions, I think I remember other questions about height, weight, age, etc. It was easy.
What remained was the selection of shirt fabric, color and pattern and customizations, like shirt collar, placket, cuffs, darts, yoke and more. Fortunately, Proper Cloth provides explicit photos or illustrations for every step in case someone might not know what things like darts or split yokes are. With the user experience, they’ve done their due diligence with making sure that every step is understandable and clear.
Once my measurement profile was complete, I built my shirt. Here’s what I ordered:
- Miles 120s Light Blue Broadcloth
- Soft President Spread Collar
- Soft French Cuff
- Soft Placket
- One-Piece Yoke
- Standard Buttons
Two weeks after a fair parting with $95, the shirt arrived. It was almost perfect.
Before I clicked the ‘purchase’ button, I took a look at the detailed measurements created by Proper Cloth’s algorithm when I entered my basic shirt measurements and answered their body type questions. The measurement for “Cuff Around” looked wrong to me. So I changed it to coincide with the cuff width of my existing dress shirts, which was a mistake. When the shirt arrived, the cuffs were WAY too big. And the body of the shirt was way too long for some reason. Essentially, I should have trusted Proper Cloth’s algorithm.
I followed Proper Cloth’s instructions for making adjustments in my measurements, restoring the original measurement for the cuffs. Among their many nice features, they enable you to make a cuff adjustment on the wrist where you wear a watch. I wear my watch on my left wrist. So I expanded the measurement on the left cuff by .25 inches. I also shortened the length of the shirt body by a couple of inches.
Another two weeks later, a new shirt arrived with the adjustments I made… AT NO EXTRA COST. I’m loving this company more by the minute.
The shirt itself is great. Proper Cloth recommends laundering the shirt before wearing, enabling it to shrink into size in the right places. They also understand that a shirt’s fit will change over subsequent washings and wearings, expanding in some places and shrinking in others. Two launderings in, we’re doing well so far.
The only thing I’ll change in orders down the road is the collar. As I mentioned above, my shirt has the Soft President Spread Collar, which is a little wimpy in its size for my taste. Another .25 in the width of the collar would be perfect. The other collar design that caught my eye is the Soft Roma Spread. In terms of angle and size, it’s got some balls. So it’s the Soft Roma Collar for my next order from Proper Cloth.
Over time, if I notice things in the shirt’s fit that need adjusting, I can easily make those changes in my profile, refining a perfect fit even further. Lovely.
Overall, the Proper Cloth experience was a very positive one for me. Aside from the shirt itself, which is great, they nail the most important part of online custom shopping: make it painless. Unless they make some drastic changes that kill my shirt preferences, they’ve got a new customer.
My dress shirts from Kamakura went for $89. Because their closest size to me was a 35.5″ sleeve (I’m a 35″ in the sleeve), I had to pay extra to have them altered. With alterations, the ultimate cost of my Kamakura shirts was around $115 per shirt. Not only did Proper Cloth move into a lane Kamakura abandoned, they did it with a perfect fit for a better price.