Saturday, September 10, 2005

Shirt Searching II

As I wrote in the last article, it was quite difficult for me to find a nice and inexpensive blouse. When it comes to dress shirt shopping, it only gets harder.

My first dress shirt was bought in an Ann Taylor winter sale a couple of years ago. At the $19.99 price, the shirt helped me get an internship which eventually became my first job after graduate school. No, the shirt didn’t fit. My dirty little secret was hiding the baggy white shirt in my suit jacket hoping the shirttail wouldn’t come up. My look was not fashionable or professional, and I needed a change.

My first “nice shirt” was from PINK. The British maker offers a wide selection of styles and they have two sales every year where you can buy the shirts at about $70 each. The problem is that you can not try on the exact shirt you want. When the fits vary from style to style, you have to wonder if your guess is correct. I never feel comfortable making a purchase without trying the clothes on. I even had a bad experience in their downtown crossing store in Boston. A male sales assistant knocked the door of my fitting room so rudely asking me to hurry up when there was only one customer waiting and I just put on the second sample shirt. I never go back to PINK since then.
Prada Shirt - Jing's Fashion Review - Fashion Commentary and Reviews
I got a very nice Prada sleeveless shirt during the Saks summer sale. At size 38, it fits me like a sock (shown in the picture). I really appreciate the amazing tailoring and craftsmanship. I paid more than two hundred dollars for that shirt (on sale price), and it’s worth every single cent of it. Months later, I saw a couple of knockoffs in the contemporary department at Saks, but the details are no where close. I wish I could fill my closet with Prada shirts, but I have to save money for the Chanel jacket and the Yohji Yamamoto coat I fall in love with. Back to reality, I still need some inexpensive shirts to wear from Monday to Friday. I simply feel ashamed when our CEO wears an Adrienne Vittadini and I wear a Prada.

One of my colleagues looks so womanly yet professional in her Brooks Brothers non-iron shirt, so I decided to give it a try. The sales girl was very friendly and she handed me a petite size 2 shirt (their smallest size for women). The sleeves were in good length, but they were extremely puffy. With the stiff non-iron material, they looked exactly like two lanterns hanging from my shoulders. I looked ridiculous! The good news was, though, Brooks Brothers would offer tailoring service for women soon. I left my phone number for the sales assistant to call me when it starts.

My last hope was Jcrew. I accidentally got a nice shirt on sale in last year, so I went to the store again. I am so desperate that I don’t even think about waiting for the sale. My professional image is more important (or it is simply an excuse?).

There are Laura shirts ($88 each), Kathryn shirts ($68 each), Kelley shirts ($58 each, 3/4 sleeves), solid oxford shirts ($59 each), and slim stretch shirts ($59.50 each) available. All the styles but Laura shirts come with petite sizes. All the shirts are long enough to be tucked in.

I found Laura shirts extremely flattering in the catalogue. The models looked crisp and professional, full of energy. However, the sleeves were longer than normal and apparently I could not roll the French cuffs on. I am borderline petite (5’4”) and I wear regular pants, but the sleeves fell below my knuckles. The body was also too roomy to be tucked in without looking bulky. I bet girls with long arms would like this fit. I felt a little frustrated and I could not help wondering how they took the slim and flattering pictures for the catalogue. Maybe a couple of pins helped.
J.Crew - Jing's Fashion Review - Fashion Commentary and Reviews
Some of the Kathryn shirts are stretchy and some are made of pure cotton. I found the stretchy shirts fit better and the sleeves slightly shorter than the pure cotton shirts. The stretchy shirts fit nicely on me and I eventually got the same style in two different colors (shown in the pictures). I was finally satisfied.

Jcrew’s oxford shirts were surprisingly soft. The sleeves were about the same length as the cotton Kathryn shirts.

The slim stretch shirts were slimmer but I found the size bigger than the Kathryn shirts. The shoulders of the Kathryn shirts were perfect J.Crew - Jing's Fashion Review - Fashion Commentary and Reviewsfor me but my shoulders couldn’t fill the room in the slim stretch shirt that I tried on. I ordered a petite version through the catalogue instead.

The sales assistants at Jcrew are always friendly and helpful. The shipping is free if you order through the stores. It was my best shirt shopping experience so far. Jcrew does a good job offering great styles, quality, and service in such price range.

Shirts that I tried on (and worth mentioning):
Ann Taylor: inexpensive yet well made shirts. Good for women with curves. Some of the shirttails are not long enough to be tucked in.
Banana Republic: inexpensive shirts with younger looks. The material is not the best and you will see the difference after a couple of washes. Styles and colors are limited.
Brooks Brothers: Roomy sleeves are extremely comfortable but too baggy for slim people. The good news is that they will offer tailored shirts to women soon. Call your local stores for details.
Dolce & Gabbana: sexy shirts for you if you have the curves. Sizing is a little bigger than Prada.
Jcrew: the perfect brand if you have a boyish figure. They offer a decent selection of styles and colors.
PINK: widest selection among shirt makers but the service is not very good. Check out the two semiannual sales that are held in June/July and December/January. The drawback: you can not try on most of the shirts in store.
Prada: best fit. The material and the cut justify their three digit price.
Theory: limited colors and styles but fit well. I found their prices awkward as I would rather pay a tiny little more to buy the perfect fit Prada shirt on sale.


fugfashion said...

nice blog ! fugfashion (from TFS!)

Jing said...

Thanks fugfashion! Karma for you:-D