The imperfect shirt

There’s no such thing as the perfect shirt. Never was, never will be. The notion, a lazy, familiar one, doesn’t stand up to even the most cursory logic test: the shirt perfect for you won’t be perfect for the bloke sitting next to you unless he’s your twin. The semi-cutaway collar shirt, then, isn’t the perfect shirt — but it’s nevertheless better than it’s ever been.

If perfection is always beyond reach, that mustn’t deter progression towards it. The semi-cutaway shirt hasn’t much changed since its debut in 2010, but in make and fit forward steps have been made. The cloth is the same — still thick and so soft it takes even the most jaded sartorial seen-it-aller aback on first touch. It’s the product of the last shirting mill in England — the very last, as implausible and slightly depressing as that sounds — whose couple-of-centuries experience making the stuff suggests they know what they’re doing. The 80% cotton part of the cloth gives it everyday practicality — light, breathable, durable — and the 20% wool part adds the luxury — warmth and monumental cosiness.

The collar and fit of the shirt have gone mostly unchanged, too; turns out what worked well in 2010 is still valid two years later. The body of the shirt is cut such that, for most people, it is long enough to be worn either untucked or tucked, while the arms are slightly shorter than the industry standard so as not to excessively bunch up at the cuff. The tie-space and collar-stand have been given a tweak, but it’s still the same semi-cutaway collar; a collar ordinarily formal but softened up here and made more casual.

With the shirtmaker of Kent currently at full capacity on top-secret other work, the task of making a short run of the shirt in grey, cream, and navy fell to the always-capable North London outerwear factory. Their handiwork is in shop and workshop right now.