Review of Proper Cloth Custom Dress Shirts
There are a couple major players in the online made-to-measure/custom shirt arena. One of the biggest is Proper Cloth. The other day we took a look at Deo Veritas, another great online custom shirt company, and we discussed things like customization options, how the fitting process went, and the final quality of the shirt’s construction and fabric. We ordered a shirt from Proper Cloth so that we could take a look at the same key points and see how Proper Cloth fairs as a custom shirt company. Here we go!
Shirt Styling & Design
Of all the custom (and when we say custom, we mean “made to measure”) shirt companies that I have tried, Proper Cloth has the best storefront. What do I mean by this? I mean that they break down their store neatly into a pre-designed shirts gallery that you can then tweak to your specifications/size, the full custom shirt designer, plus a sort of in-between section where you can browse by shirt type (this is how most online stores list their products). Basically, this means that you can either start from scratch and create your own shirt design, or you can start from a shirt that Proper Cloth designed and styled, and then just tweak it to how you like it (if at all). While a few other custom shirt companies do this, Proper Cloth does this the best. They have a seemingly endless selection of pre-styled shirts, all broken down by variety. They have a whole section for lightweight flannels, a section for heavier flannels, a section for chambray shirts, a section for popover shirts, business shirts, formal shirts, casual shirts — and on and on. If there is a kind of shirt you would like to order, Proper Cloth has a collection of a bunch of pre-designed shirts for you to choose from. They also usually have a model or two showing different ways of styling said variety of shirts. And they are adding to this collection constantly, and, if you so choose, will send you an email whenever a new style collection is added. If you can’t tell already, I really like this about Proper Cloth. It makes it feel more professional, like there is a team of stylists showing you some great options (which is exactly what it is) as opposed to just throwing you into a custom shirt generator and wishing you luck. It makes it seem more like a custom tailor shop, and less like a video game shirt designer.
As to the shirt options themselves, Proper Cloth has a ton. Their fabric selection is seemingly endless, offering you just about anything you would like under the sun. (Though, I will say they definitely lean more conservative, and some of the more “out there” fabrics you might not find at Proper Cloth. Also, some of the super unique, or crazy high-end fabrics a place like Deo Veritas offers you will not really find here.) They also offer just about every customization option to the shirts, including placket options, the typical cuff options, as well as lowered button stance, and, of course, a whole slew of fantastic collar options. This last customization is something I always look for. Many made to measure places offer three or four options. Proper Cloth offers 25, and I think they offer more than anyone else. If there is a collar look that you would like, Proper Cloth can surely accommodate. They provide detailed information on each collar, including all measurements info, as well as styling suggestions. Indeed, they offer detailed information on just about every possible customization option you could ever tweak on a shirt. Just Google whatever it is you want to know with the words “proper cloth” afterwards and you will find an entry on their site detailing everything you need to know. (Try “lowered button stance” for instance.)
My Shirt: For my shirt I went with an absolutely gorgeous navy and grey houndstooth flannel and styled it with a two button metered cuff, and a soft spread collar. Proper Cloth’s soft collar options are absolutely wonderful for casual shirts for which you still want a more classy, dressed-up look. When it comes to casual shirts there is always the button-down collar option, but I often prefer a nice spread collar even on my casual shirts. The trouble is that they always end up sitting funny, and not laying nicely. This is where a soft collar comes in. It’s not strutted, and so remains much more casual, and sits beautifully on the shirt, even when unbuttoned and without a tie. I love that Proper Cloth offers so many soft collar options, and, again, these extensive customizations really set them apart.
I absolutely love the look of this flannel. It goes with just about anything, and is the sort of shirt that looks nicer and nicer the closer you get to it. While from afar it seems basic and plain, from closer up you see all the texture and layer to the fabric. It’s basic while still standing out, in a way. As always, that’s just how I like things: subtly different. I really love how this shirt came out and looks. The fabric is great, and the spread collar gives it a wonderful classy/casual look as well. Proper Cloth also sits their buttons by default slightly lower than other shirtmakers which means you don’t need to unbutton the second button for a nicer laid-back look. This was something I was not sure of at first, but have grown to like.
Summary: Proper Cloth offers an easy-to-use website, extensive fabric and customization options, and produced a beautiful, richly textured and versatile midnight flannel shirt for me. I am a big fan of everything about Proper Cloth’s style and design options, and my shirt in particular.
Shirt Quality & Construction
If their styling options are anything to go by, Proper Cloth’s quality should be high. And, indeed, it is. The flannel fabric I got is midnight, but rich and luxurious and soft all at the same time. It feels great and looks great. All the stitching feels like it’ll hold forever, and the buttons are thick and weighty and feel like they’ll never come off this shirt. The soft collar is wonderful, and something I recommend everyone try on at least one shirt at some point. It somehow pulls double-duty perfectly as both a casual and dress collar at the same time — both never droopy, and never stiff. From top to bottom this shirt feels sturdy and well-made. This is a quality garment.
Fitting Process & Final Fitting
Like many custom shirt places, the first time you order you run through what they call their “Smart Sizing” system in which you answer some general questions about what size you are, how you like your shirts to fit, and so on. From these few questions they get a very good sense of your size, and then make your first shirt based on that. And, I have to say, they get pretty damn close. Like always, there needs to be some tweaks — and Proper Cloth customer service is absolutely stellar (more on this in a bit) — so they’ll remake your first shirt free of charge to make sure they get it perfect. Once your shirt arrives, you can log in to your profile on Proper Cloth’s site and see all the individual measurements. You can then (either on your own, or with help from a stylist over email) tweak the measurements until you think it’ll be perfect, and the have the remake sent. Proper Cloth offers a ton of customizations options, and allows you to tweak just about everything you could think of, down to fractions of an inch. Want them to slope on shoulder but not the other? No problem. Accommodate a watch by making one wrist larger than the other? Sure. Lower the button stance? Done. And all of this is available as options right there in the style profile editor, without needing to enter specific notes. You just select it or tweak it as an option, and it’ll be done on your next order.
(As far as shipping goes, Proper Cloth is pretty standard. Not at all as fast as somewhere like Deo Veritas, but they hit the usual 1.5-3 weeks window without a problem.)
My Shirt: When it came to my shirt, I had ordered a tuxedo shirt from them in the past, and so wanted to tweak the fitting a bit in order to get it right for a casual shirt. This meant it had to be a bit shorter, and the waist and chest measurements needed to be adjusted as well. In consultation with a stylist over email we created a new fit profile (you can have a bunch store on Proper Cloth for different kinds of shirts, if you would like) for casual shirts, and made the adjustments. For some reason, the shirt did not come out properly. The length was still wrong, and the sleeves and chest were much to tight. Despite this not being my first shirt, Proper Cloth — without question — offered to remake the shirt again. Even after this remake I was still not totally happy, and so the shirt was remade, free of charge, again until I was satisfied with the fit! This is truly exceptional customer service, and something that Proper Cloth should be beyond commended for!
As always, you should always wash your shirts as you normally would before considering the fit, as fabrics shrink a bit in the wash. This always make me nervous that from shirt to shirt, depending on the fabric, it might not fit perfectly, but either way, there are still some things I would tweak from this shirt to my next from Proper Cloth. For one, I think the waist could be adjusted slightly, and perhaps come in just a pinch. I also would like to take this opportunity to say that Proper Cloth cannot adjust the length of the back of the shirt independently from the front. I personally feel that this shirt fits perfectly in the front, but is just a bit too long in the back. It’s annoying that this cannot be corrected.
Other than those minor quibbles, as you can see, this shirt fits just about flawlessly! From top to bottom it fits really well, and is super comfortable. While it took a while to get right, the sleeves and chest are now excellent, and I have all my measurements saved and accessible on their site for future orders.
Summary: Proper Cloth offers a plethora of great customization options right in their sizing profile allowing you to dial in the shirt on your own until you get the perfect, exact fit that you want. Their original “Smart Styling” system works super well, and they will stick at it until you are 100% satisfied with your shirt. Proper Cloth is really a custom shirt company you can absolutely feel confident ordering from.
Pricing, Value, & Final Conclusion
The pricing of their shirts varies by fabric. My shirt was $85, and while you can get some shirts for a bit less, many (if not most) will run you well over $100. (I should note that you can earn discounts on future orders by reviewing fabrics on your past orders.) Confidence when ordering from a custom shirting company is super important. Proper Cloth’s prices are without question not the lowest out there when it comes to made to measure shirting — but they offer some of the most extensive customization options, a neat, organized, and curated selection of shirt options, a great sizing system, and best -of-the-best customer service. You’re spending good money here, but you will end up with a shirt you love, and that fits amazingly. Is that worth ~$100? People might have different thoughts, but I think it probably is.