Buttoned Up

While They Don't Come Cheap, Custom-Fit Shirts Can Be a Bargain

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The price of these fine cottons (and some silks, although one gets the impression Alex Kabbaz considers cottons to be the true m├ętier of a shirtmaker), are based on thread count: the general range is from $325 to the Swiss 200 denier broadcloth at $475, but one can go higher with silks.

Leonard Logsdail
9 East 53rd Street, New York 10022 (212)752-5030

Logsdail caters to those men who prefer the English style of tailoring and accoutering, which makes sense, since he is a Savile Row tailor and shirtmaker who came to Manhattan six years ago.

"What I find that's true both here and in London," he says, "is that men are much more conservative in their suits than in their shirts. We do a great deal of classic gray and blue worsted pinstripes, but tend to follow the Jermyn Street style of bold, colorful stripes in shirtings."

While Logsdail does the measuring and fittings in New York, his workrooms are still in London, where the shirts are made from his individually crafted paper patterns. With the transit time, the shirts take longer to complete--six to eight weeks--than those made in New York, but if it's a London-made shirt that you want, this is The Real Thing.

Left to his own lights in styling, Logsdail would prefer a traditional English spread collar, easy-but-fitted body and double cuff for the high-count poplin town shirtings, although he is perfectly happy to produce a full range of styles, including duplicating a favorite collar. Like other English makers, he has a fine selection of tattersall country shirtings available, to go with that wonderful broth-of-the-heather tweed sports jacket and cashmere tie.

Prices are in the $200 to $300 range (three-shirt minimum), with formal shirts at $300.

Paris Custom Shirtmakers, Inc.
38 West 32nd Street, New York 10001 (212)695-3563

Paris Custom Shirtmakers is called that, logically enough, because the firm had its beginnings in Paris 48 years ago. "My father [Mark] was originally with Charvet, then started his own business, and brought it here 18 years ago," says Atam Sahmanian. (The elder Sahmanian still provides his expertise in the shop.) "We are still very much European-oriented in that we continue to use only fabrics from the best European mills, some of which are exclusive to us." And they still number European royalty among their customers.

The craftsmen here cut and sew an average of 200 to 250 shirts a week. It takes 10 days to make the first sample shirt and another two to three weeks to complete an order. Royal oxford cloth is popular at the moment, but there are at least 2,500 other fabrics from which to choose. Should you want a monogram, it will be handsewn with silk thread.

Paris offers a complete shirt service. Many of its loyal customers have special luggage cases expressly for the purpose of sending their shirts regularly back to Paris for hand laundering and meticulous hand pressing.

Prices range from $165 to $350, with a three-shirt minimum.

430 Park Avenue, New York 10022 (212)980-5200

The name Sulka is synonymous with sophisticated haberdashery. The firm has supplied gentlemen with luxury shirts, neck ties, pajamas and dressing gowns for more than a hundred years.

"At the moment," says Stephen Ostrowski of the firm's custom department, "end-on-end shirting is very popular for business dress, particularly the deeper shades of blue, but we've got end-on-ends in at least 20 different colors." Which gives you some idea of Sulka's commitment to sybaritic shirt-making.

The firm will be happy to offer expert counsel on appropriate collar styles, or to duplicate a favorite. The first shirt takes about six weeks to produce, and another six to complete the four-shirt minimum order. Sulka is particularly inventive, in a thoroughly tasteful way to be sure, when it comes to formal shirting. "We enjoy doing things like vertical stripes on the body and horizontal stripes on the bib," notes Mr. Ostrowski. Even with business shirts, they're unstuffy enough to do different stripes on body, collar and cuffs.

Prices are generally from $225 to $365, with off-the-rack tuxedo shirts at $155 to custom tuxedo shirts from $300 to $400. Branches in London; Paris; Chicago; San Francisco, Beverly Hills and Costa Mesa, California; and Bal Harbour, Florida. *

A frequent contributor to Cigar Aficionado on the subject of fashion, G. Bruce Boyer is the author of Eminently Suitable (W.W. Norton, 1990).

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