Buying dress clothes can be a daunting task, especially online. I often find myself asking “Will it actually fit?”  “How do I know if its good quality?”  “Will it look like the pictures or not what I’m expecting?”  Having an athletic physique or as I like to call it, the “Dorito body” (huge, muscular shoulders and a small waist) can make buying and fitting into dress clothes even more difficult, if not impossible. When I do find a brand that works for my body, it quickly becomes my go-to. I’ll get it in every color, shape, and style.  But how do you find that brand for yourself?

To find that brand with a quality product, let’s take a look at some dress shirts and my top 5 identifiers of quality.  

1. Side Seams

bradley allen, Bradley allen apparel, brad poppie, dr. brad poppie, quality

Left: Poor quality seam (Two lines of stitching) Right: High quality seam as seen on a Bradley Allen (One line of stitching)

If you look at the side seams of your dress shirt, you will want to look for one line of stitching rather than two. The general rule of thumb for a dress shirt side seam is “the fewer needles going into the fabric the better”. Sewing machines can have 1 to 5 needles to stitch with at a time.  For the side seam of a dress shirt with 2 rows of stitching, the fabric can shrink or stretch in the wash differently than the thread.  This traps wrinkles in between the rows and makes the shirt look less sharp.

2. Stitch Density

bradley allen, Bradley allen apparel, brad poppie, dr. brad poppie, quality

Examples of stitch sizes. Typically, the smaller the stitch, the better quality

Another identifier of quality in a dress shirt is stitch density.  Stitch density is the number of stitches per inch along a sewn seam.  A low quality shirt will have 7-10 stitches per inch, a standard quality shirt should have at least 12 stitches per inch, and a very high quality shirt will often have 20 stitches per inch.  The exception to this rule is with loosely woven fabrics such as linen.  In this case, small stitches can ruin the fabric.

3. Stitch Consistency

bradley allen, Bradley allen apparel, brad poppie, dr. brad poppie, quality

Left: Inconsistently sewn hem Right: Bradley Allen hem, consistently sewn

While we’re on the subject of stitching, you will want to look at the curved bottom hem of the shirt.  Curves can be difficult to sew so if the distance between the stitching and the edge is consistently the same, it is a sign that it was sewn well.  If there is more or less distance at any point, or the line looks wavy, it is a sign that the shirt was made poorly.  This can also be found in the collar, cuffs, or any other seam.  

4. Buttons

bradley allen, Bradley allen apparel, brad poppie, dr. brad poppie, quality

Left: Poor Quality Button (Thin and Easily Broken) Right: Bradley Allen’s Buttons (thick and durable)

You may not notice buttons on a shirt, unless they are poor quality.  It’s never fun buttoning up your shirt and all of a sudden the button breaks in half or comes off.  You’ll want to make sure the buttons are thick and sewn on sturdily.  High end shirts often contain Mother of Pearl buttons and sometimes a thread shank (thread wrapped around the stitching between the button and the shirt to further secure the button and the make it easier to button through the buttonhole). Mother of Pearl buttons will feel cold to the touch, plastic will not.

5. Pattern Matching

bradley allen, Bradley allen apparel, brad poppie, dr. brad poppie, quality

Left: Poor Pattern Matching Right: Quality Pattern Matching

When buying a patterned dress shirt, this fifth sign of quality is often the easiest to spot.  Pattern matching refers to whether the stripes or checks of one piece of the shirt (ie. shoulder) connect with the stripes or checks of the adjoining piece (ie. the sleeve).  The shoulder seams, yoke seams (the back panel just below the collar) and the pocket (if applicable)  are the easiest places to spot this.  Sometimes a yoke has a vertical seam down the middle, if this is the case, it is imperative that the pattern matches up.

Bradley Allen Apparel ensures that all of our shirts are high quality and affordable.  Our size chart is meant to relieve all the guess work that is often found in online shopping and our fit features will show you why our shirts are different and what to expect.  If for some reason your shirt doesn’t fit, our return policy and customer service will work with you to make sure you get the right size.

When it comes to buying dress clothes, especially online, you want to find a brand that represents you.  Does the company branding share the same vibe that you are going for when you dress up? Do they keep you, the customer in mind when producing their products and responding to your questions and concerns? Do they produce quality products that fit you well and make you feel and look great? If you find a company that does this, you will have the confidence to go forth looking and feeling great.  Give us a shot at Bradley Allen.  Let our dress shirts take you to the next level.