Bow Ties Sydney, Australia - Le Noeud Papillon - Specialists In Self Tying Bow Ties

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Let's Talk About Shirts

It is heating up in Australia and cooling down in the States and Europe. The change of the seasons is a good time to consider what you are doing with your wardrobe. We are currently working with customers on their shirts for the Australian summer. I thought I would tell you a little that I have learnt about cotton and shirt making in the process and hand over some tips for choosing shirts.

1. You don't always need a bespoke shirt. 

Bespoke is a difficult process to manage. It requires fittings and it is time consuming and it should be reserved for particularly fussy customers who are happy to pay the price to be snug as a bug. A made to measure service can be almost as rewarding without the headaches. What is the difference? A bespoke shirt is where we take 10 measurements and 3 photos to identify your body and set out an individual pattern. We look for sloping in your shoulders, the natural stance of your body, the proportion of your arms to your torso, chest size, stomach area, hips and neck size. When all these things are considered we begin to form a pattern. In years gone by these would be drawings done on tracing paper that then would be filed in a pigeon hole. Today it is data which is stored on a computer outlining your individual measurements which we then print before cutting your shirts. Made to measure, on the other hand, is where we use a block and tweak elements to get the shirt fitting correctly. Whilst bespoke is more flexible, made to measure is faster, less expensive and more convenient. At Le Noeud Papillon Sydney we keep 18 shirts for our try on range to ensure that we come as close as possible to making your shirts fit the way you want them.

2. Cotton quality - what do I need vs what I want?

Some people prefer high end quality cotton but this depends on what kind of shirting fabrics you need. A work shirt, which is worn frequently and must endure the body's rise and fall in temperature as well as sweat and physical movements, does not need to be a high thread count cotton. We predominantly use Canclini fabric with occasional use of the Monte 200 Yorkshire and Sea Island range. Most of the fabrics of these books range between 100 and 300 2 ply cotton. Whilst 100 2 ply is suitable for a heavy duty work load, the 300 cotton 2 ply should be reserved for specialty occasions such as cocktail, formal and dinner wear. 

With regards to weaves, remember that a twill will give a better draping effect, but a poplin cotton is fantastic for solid colour blocks where the customer is not looking for texture in the cloth. If you are looking for texture then you will find it in Oxfords, Herringbones, Pin-Heads etc.

3. Which collar is my collar?

This all depends on what you use your shirts for. If you are tying a full windsor knot then choose a full cutaway collar. If you rarely wear a tie, choose a windsor or 'standard' collar. When choosing, be cautious, as every different shirt company uses slightly different names for each collar. Recently the club collar has been appearing as a directional collar. This collar is rounded on the edges and has been seen in shows such as Boardwalk Empire. It is most notably seen with a tie pin, which is either made by inserting a safety pin into the collar (not advisable) or having an eyelet cored out of the collar and inserting a steel bar. If you are not familiar with this collar, don't try it. The shirt requires additional time in the morning to prepare the shirt and should not be worn without the pin (which occasionally goes missing).

4. Cuffs and collar stays

Many bespoke customers prefer cuffs and removable collar stays. This is not a problem for the shirt connoisseur but for people who are strapped for time and patience this should be reconsidered. The problem with collar stays is that they are often lost or emptied into the load of washing. We recommend permanent collar stays for people who are not enthusiasts. The collar stays will usually last the life of the shirt and allow you to have a collar that will not wing (although winging your collars is now a cultural phenomenon in Japan). With regards to cuffs, I always suggest to customers to keep a mix of both. Especially as summer rolls around the corner, it is taxing to have cuffs through the Australian summer and be perpetually rolling up your sleeves and placing your cuff links in your pockets or the centre console of your car. It is better to have a 2 button sleeve with an additional sleeve button half way up the forearm to ensure that you can roll up and down freely.

5. Marcella or Plisse for my dinner shirt?

It really depends on how you finish the shirt. Personally I prefer plisse for nearly all my dinner shirts, but there are times when Marcella is done very well and should not be overlooked. Recently we have been using a variation of a Marcella which is a diamond cross pattern in the fabric and this is particularly elegant and nicer, in my opinion, than a Marcella.

6. Trends

Fashion is very segmented at the moment and there are no over-riding trends that are coming through. We are seeing high collars like those worn by Karl Lagerfeld, slim collars a la Christian Dior, club collars inspired by the era of the 20's in a modern return to the Jazz Age cultivated by popular culture. At the same time the pop-over has been popular with some customers as well as short sleeve shirts with cuffs like collared t-shirts. There are many customers requesting concealed button downs as well as standard button downs and also renewed request from our younger customers for initials on either their liver or cuff. Whilst all these different factional elements are having an effect on current waves, the classics remain and one should not focus too much on the passing trends. 

If you are in need of shirts, please do not hesitate contact us on

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