In our increasingly bespoke society, small, medium, large and XL just won’t cut it anymore—and clothing brands are catching on. The custom-fit movement is still a pretty small part of the menswear market, but it’s gaining major steam because guys want to, as custom shirt maker MTailor says, “Stop wearing another man’s clothing.”
To get a handle on this movement, give you a window into it and find the best custom shirts in America, I tried shirts from five top custom clothiers. To really dial it in, I only worked with brands that allow customers to provide measurement, with the shirts then constructed to those specifications and sent to the customer.
Some of these brands also have showrooms, so I went that route once to compare with my other experiences. I also used tailor-procured measurements with one company instead of their proprietary process to see if it made a difference. OK, without further ado, here’s what I found…
Brand: MTailor has 89 fabrics that come in and out of stock due to demand. In total, there are more than 10,000 possible combinations. In addition you can customize the color; collar; cuff; monogram; pocket; watch space; make it tucked or untucked; and go slim or classic.
Experience: MTailor’s engaging and almost fun-to-use phone app takes pictures from all angles as you slowly rotate your entire body in front of the camera, scanning all the while.
I let them know I’d be on vacation until a certain date and my shirt was delivered right on the day I came back. Unfortunately, my measurements weren’t accurate and the shirt was noticeably billowy around the midsection, while the cuffs were too tight to slip my wrists through without unbuttoning first.
My remake customer service experience, however, was excellent and the free remake yielded a nice enough improvement on the fit after a lengthy 20-day lead time. It’s ‘purple twill’ in color with a widespread collar, plus two buttons and a monogram of my initials on an angled cuff.
Pricing: Shirts are $69 and up. My shirt came out to $69.
Brand: You can make a ridiculous amount of customizations with Marcella, all of which are visually conveyed as you go. This includes contrasting fabrics in various areas of the shirt; six collar styles; 10 cuff variations; three placket designs; four back designs; 18 buttonhole colors and 19 button colors; choice of pocket or no pocket and more.
You choose one of your favorite shirts and tell them how you like the fit. Or you measure your body by finding a measuring tape and a buddy and following their step-by-step guide online. Or you measure a sample shirt and get the shirt measurements with their online guide.
Marcella has five retail storefronts in Singapore, but just one in the States (in New York City).
Experience: I provided measurements that were procured by a professional to a custom brand instead of using their system once to see how it went. This was that brand, and it worked out beautifully.
It’s a casual short-sleeve shirt with a blue bubble design meant for more relaxed occasions on warm days. It feels good, fits well and looks unique. It was delivered in 17 days.
Pricing: Marcella’s shirts are priced according to three tiers of fabric quality: $69 for basic; $99 for premium; $109 for luxury. My order came out to $109.
Made Man Reader Discount: 15 percent discount on all custom shirts, redeemable online and in-store, with coupon code MadeMan.
Brand: Indochino has 33 year-round shirt types with around 12 more launching on a seasonal basis. Shoppers can choose from seven collar styles; five cuff styles; numerous shirt trim designs/colors; monogramming; contrasting trim; choice of seamless placket; and choice of chest pocket.
Experience: This was the most labor-intensive and time-consuming measuring process of the lot. So if it’s geographically convenient, I recommend visiting one of their showrooms (where they, like other brands, professionally measure you to help “build” your shirt) in Philadelphia, New York City, Vancouver, Toronto or San Francisco. (More locations will open in the near future.) Indochino’s shirts are really high quality so it’s worth your time to drop by.
My shirt was a dark navy linen good for warmer weather. It has pockets, a seamless placket, a button-down collar, two-button angled cuffs and monogram trim. It’s comfortable, stylish, and fits well, but unfortunately the first time it came in it was, as with MTailor, ill-fitting in a couple places.
Indochino offers a great customer service experience and was able to turn my new shirt around in a couple of weeks. This resulted in a substantial reduction in its billowiness and better sizing on the cuffs. Overall, it’s a very nice shirt that fits well.
Pricing: My shirt came out to $169, but the least expensive is $79.
Made Man Reader Discount: Get three standard custom shirts for $199 or two premium custom shirts for $229 with coupon code SHIRTBUNDLES. Choose a custom suit, shirt and tie from this collection for $499 with coupon code HAVEITALL.
Brand: Stantt shirts are the least customizable of the bunch. They offer nine colorways, each of which is available in 75 sizes. Their shirts are understated and full of class. They brand really focuses on creating a really nice, simple, custom-fit shirt. Fun fact: Each of their 75 sizes is named after a New York City street, so once you find your size, you can just use that street name anytime you order.
Experience: The first time I used Stantt months ago (using my own measuring tape), the shirt came out great. This time, however, I used their very standard, very normal measuring tape (which comes with each shirt), and it came back too darn big for some reason.
Stantt’s customer service is top-notch, so they made some recommendations and set me right with a far-better fitting shirt within about a week. They make it as easy as possible for returns and if your shirt doesn’t fit the way you want, they can hone in pretty quickly on the right sizing.
Pricing: My shirt came out to $98, the across-the-board price.
Made Man Reader Discount: 10 percent off your order with coupon code MadeMan.
Brand: BookATailor’s customizations are pretty mind-boggling and include: hundreds of fabrics; monogram initials/color/position; buttonhole stitch; contrast fabric inside collar and cuff; cuff type; collar type; placket; back pleats; pocket; button color; collar height; pen pocket and more. They have 12 showrooms nationwide in New York City, Long Island, Beverly Hills, Miami, Washington D.C., Bethesda, Charlotte, New Jersey, Atlanta, San Francisco, Chicago and Boston. They plan to have 40 showrooms across the U.S. by the end of 2015. Shirts are typically delivered within four weeks.
Experience: BookATailor conducts an interactive appointment with adjustable shirts to quickly demonstrate things like shorter cuff length or a trimmer bicep fit. They operate on the knowledge that consumers don’t know how to measure ourselves the way a professional does (which I can attest to!). So they take a few pictures and their “Styling Genius” takes an 18-point measurement, then recommends a fit based on your look, feel and style preference. You can feel fabrics and see a visual of the fit before they take your order on a tablet. Their goal is to teach terminology and how to order confidently on your own.
My shirt came out fitting better than any other, even taking into consideration my three remakes. It’s a proper white dress shirt with striking black buttonholes and black-and-white buttons.
Pricing: Shirts have a base price of $65, though they typically sell two custom shirts for $99 or four for $179. My shirt, which has a couple of add-ons, came out to $73.
Made Man Reader Discount: A $25 off coupon and their bundle deals can be found here.
We’re not tailors and neither are our friends or the apps that help us measure ourselves. So unless you’re lucky, have surgical-steady hands or are a lightning fast learner, you may not get the perfect-fitting shirt the first time around. Going in to get measured by a professional is totally worth it.
And with any of these brands, if it doesn’t fit the first time around, you can bet you’ll still get a nice end result. It just may take some effort and some patience.
So… considering you can get great a custom shirt for a cost comparable to something off the rack, why not give it a shot today?
One Last Thing
While there isn’t yet a brand that offers custom-tailored undershirts—only a matter of time—a brand called Stork does offer a better-fitting alternative by manufacturing shirts with a longer length so they stay tucked in, shorts sleeves that don’t bunch at the shoulders, and a slimmer fit to ensure they don’t look boxy underneath a nice dress shirt. Good stuff.
Jeans and belt in photos are from the very excellent DSTLD.
Lead photo: Indochino
All other photos by Stefanie Levy
Join thousands of men and women who are dressing up for a good cause. Go formal with Made Man and Career Gear on Friday, October 9th to help empower men in need with resources, training and suits they can use to rejoin the workforce. Because for every photo posted to Instagram or Twitter and tagged #FormalFriday, we’ll donate a dollar to Career Gear. Learn more at mademan.com/formal-friday.