Elements of Men’s Custom Shirts

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custom plaid mens shirt with triple stacked buttonsWhen you tell someone that you’re a custom tailor, a common response is, “Oh, so you make suits?” This is obviously true, but it’s far from the only thing we do. One of our largest categories is custom shirtings, and for good reason. There are loads of different elements of men’s custom dress shirts, so dress shirts lend themselves well to customization.

This post is the home page of a series where we dive into various design options in custom dress shirts. We have individual “deep dive” pages and also some general info on this page. We’ll talk about collars, cuffs, and some styling options you perhaps weren’t aware of.

Next week, we’ll be publishing specific articles on:

  • Collars
  • Cuffs
  • Styling

As you read, please be aware that any design you see can be achieved when making custom shirts with us – what we present here are just some of the options we discuss with clients, not the entirety.

We hope you’ll find this series eye-opening, and as always, contact us with any questions.

The Importance of Shirts

If you think of a complete outfit as a framed piece of art, the suit would be your frame, the shirt would be your canvas, and the accessories are the artwork. Your shirt is in most people’s direct line of sight and borders the face, so it gets a lot of attention. In terms of comfort, the material of a dress shirt is arguably more important than that of a suit. After all, it’s making contact with your skin. A suit jacket, on the other hand, only touches the shirt it covers.

mens custom shirt with horizontal stripesIn short: shirts are important, and you need to wear good ones. There’s a lot that goes into a shirt, especially when you go the custom route. To that end, let’s briefly discuss the elements of a men’s custom shirt.

What Goes Into A Men’s Custom Shirt?

Some of our clients want to design every last possible thread. Some are the opposite and prefer to leave most decisions up to us. Either way, we’re happy to help.

The fabric of a shirt – a complex topic in its own right – is merely its starting point. Here are three key components of shirts that warrant attention: collars, cuffs, and styling.


A shirt’s collar derives its importance from its proximity to your face. We won’t get too deep into it here, but for the purposes of this post, just know that your face carries immense importance as it relates to your image. It’s a finely-tuned communication tool, and those of us under quarantine at the moment are re-learning just how important communication is. It stands to reason that any clothing that surrounds the face has similar importance in an ensemble’s hierarchy.

Men look their best when their shirt collars balance the shape of their face. Men with more length in their faces should opt for wider spread collars, and men with rounder faces should do the opposite: choose collars with tighter spreads.

In addition to various degrees of spread, collars can be made with or without buttons and with long or short points. Collars can use interliners of varying thicknesses and stiffnesses, or none at all. Some shirts are made with band collars, and some are made with wing collars to be worn with tuxedos.


Shirt cuffs serve the obvious purpose of keeping the sleeve closed at the wrist. They also help determine the shirt’s level of dressiness while adding a dose of personal style to the arrangement.

We can divide cuffs into two categories: barrel cuffs and French cuffs – “double cuffs” for any Anglophile readers. French cuffs take cufflinks to fasten, barrel cuffs use buttons sewn to them to fasten. French cuffs are dressier than barrel cuffs. There are dozens of shapes for shirt cuffs, and you can even specify how wide you’d like them to be. We often make the cuff on one wrist wider than the other to accommodate a man’s watch, a detail that doesn’t exist in stock-sized shirts.


The last section of our series deals with styling. In the world of custom shirts, styling refers to quite a few different things, a few of which are:

  • Monograms – what color(s), what font style, and where do you place them on your shirt?
  • Stitching – Where will it be? What color?
  • Buttons – What type of buttons will the shirt take? How will they be oriented on it?

When it comes to custom styling, there is an infinite number of combinations and your imagination is the only limit. It’s truly astounding.


We hope this series gets you as excited about shirts as we are!

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