‘Articles of Style’ Custom Dress Shirt & Suit Review
Disclaimer: Articles of Style gave The Peak Lapel a 30% off discount for the purposes of this review.
Dan Trepanier came into the menswear spotlight a number of years ago with his website The Style Blogger. After years of experience and work in the menswear and custom clothing industry, he finally opened up his own high-end custom menswear shop called Articles of Style. They are different from the “other guys” out there in that they combine the best of bespoke tailoring with the best of what selling online offers. Every garment they make is custom made, just for you. Articles of Style offers an even more premium, high-end, custom experience than some other Made to Measure companies operating in this space, but more on that later… Articles of Style offer custom suits, outerwear, shirts, and more, that guys absolutely drool over. They have some super unique and beautiful stuff, and everything is made and done in the USA. Their fabric selections are truly special and all hand-curated, the design and detailing of their garments are stellar, and with their fit system and the expertise of their team, you know you are going to end up with something you absolutely love. (And their prices certainly reflect all of that, but more on that below.)
The Custom Suit Review
We here at The Peak Lapel wanted to give you an overview and rundown of the full Articles of Style experience since so many of you guys are curious about it. We partnered up with friend of the site Jon Shanahan of The Kavalier to bring you a full review of their custom suiting experience, along with a comparison to other similar services you might also be familiar with. First, check out that custom suit review, and then read on for our full review of their custom shirt experience.
The Custom Shirt Review
Okay, now on to the custom shirt. While Articles of Style is best known for their custom suits and outerwear (we hope to review some of their outerwear one day, too!), they do offer quite a solid range of custom shirt options as well. Here is what we thought…
Ordering Process & Website
Right off the bat, the website / ordering process is likely the weakest point in the Articles of Style experience. The website is pretty slick, has some excellent photography (all done in-house by Articles of Style), and is well-designed. But the ordering process itself is less so. I went with a classic pinpoint shirt in blue, with a white collar. As you select your customization options, the images you are seeing do not update to reflect those changes. You just select your options from a bunch of menu options. Inputting measurements is made simply by the fact that they really do not ask for nearly as many measurements as some other companies do (like Indochino or even Proper Cloth or Deo Veritas). Their more bespoke mentality coming out, they ask you a number of questions about how you like your shirts to fit, where you generally have fit problems, and what you wish you could change about shirts that otherwise fit you really well. And, believe me, all of this input comes through in the final product. That being said, I did have some issues submitting this form, though, and my input was lost once or twice before I was able to get it to go through. Then, once the order is placed, that’s it. You get a confirmation email, and then silence.
A few weeks later, your trial shirt arrives in the mail. No shipping email, or anything. And, I will say, that Articles of Style could be a little bit better about communicating. They seem to err on the side of less communication than more. With custom clothing, though, I would rather the opposite be true. Now, they are absolutely responsive and detailed in their replies when you do email them directly (sometimes Dan himself even replies), but they are more reactive than proactive with this sort of stuff, it seems. In truth, I would like to see a bit more communication here.
Okay, and with that all out of the way, we can turn to the good now, which is just about everything else…
Every other custom shirt company we have reviewed has some sort of policy wherein if you are not happy with how your first shirt turns out, they will either give you tailoring credit or remake it for you, free of charge. Articles of Style does not play any games with this. They assume that you are going to need a remake. Every single customer, upon ordering his first shirt, will actually end up with two shirts. The first, a plain white shirt for your first fitting, to get a sense of what needs to be corrected for your final shirt. You do not need to send this shirt back; it is yours to keep. No other online company offers this. The whole concept of a “fitting” is unique to Articles of Style. You take a bunch of pictures of yourself in the fitting shirt, and upload them to the site. (Again, there is no email instructing you when or how to do this, nor any note in the fitting shirt’s box. You just need to know to go to your Articles of Style account page, and click the button to upload your fitting pictures.) You can upload as many images as you want, and then you tell them, via a series of drop-down menus, and a text entry field, what you think needs to be tweaked or perfected for your final shirt. You submit, and a few weeks later, your final shirt arrives (more on that below).
My white fitting shirt was actually quite a bit off. It was not terrible, by any means, but it did not fit the way that it should. The collar was too tight, as were the sleeves and armholes. The sleeves were also a touch short, plus the back of the shirt rippled out oddly. Finally, the whole garment was much too long. Honestly, I was not shocked considering they didn’t ask for too much information in their original survey. I was curious, though, if they really would nail it in the final fitting, especially given how much had to be tweaked from this first fitting.
Overall, despite the lack of communication or explanation along the way, the basic premise of how Articles of Style handles their fittings is superior to any other company I have tried. There is no worry about the first shirt not fitting perfectly, as that is all part of the plan. You can email them directly with any concerns you might have, but after all the text boxes you fill out — and they are truly happy for you to write novels in there if you’d like, and upload as many pictures as you see fit — you really feel like they have a great sense of what you are looking for. And then they cut the shirt just for you.
Despite my uncertainty, Articles of Style nailed the final fitting for this shirt. They must truly know what they are doing. Besides from the cuffs being able to come in just a touch, there is not one thing I would complain about in the fit of this shirt. It is likely one of my best fitting shirts in my closet now.
You have the option to upload pictures to their site, and comment on anything you think still needs to be tweaked. This is both for future orders, and also, in case anything is truly so off that they do need to remake the shirt, you can rest assured that they will.
Style & Design
I really like how this shirt looks. The blue is a beautiful light blue, and the white collar compliments it perfectly. The fabric is also rich and lightly textured, with gives it more visual interest the closer you get to it. The double-button straight-edged cuffs are classy, and the double darts on the back of the shirt add nice shape to the fit. I went with their spread collar, which is nice and substantial. The placket is standard (as opposed to a French placket with no visible edge). This is personal preference, and I tend not to care either way. Finally, I went with no chest pocket.
As far as the overall offerings on the site go, you will find that they are not super extensive. Many of their products, due to the fabrics they use, are only limited-run and very seasonal. They offer all the standard shirts you might expect, and then their truly unique, super awesome patterns, flannels, weaves, and so on. This is truly stuff you will not find anywhere else, and it very often sells out pretty quickly. And then, that’s it. Unlike other much larger custom shirting companies, Articles of Style does not offer hundreds of fabrics options. They offer far, far fewer, and they are always changing. This, of course, has its pros and cons, but considering you can just about always get the basics regardless of the season, and the fact that their patterned shirts are so unique and awesome, I don’t see that much of a downside here. More just like something to be aware of.
Finally, I wish they offered a bit more in the way of customizing their shirts. They only offer a few collar options, as opposed to somewhere like Proper Cloth which literally offers dozens of options. Similarly, there is not much customization you can do to the cuffs, chest pockets, or plackets either. And ordering something like a popover shirt seems out of the question.
So, in short, they offer truly unique fabrics and designs, created by some of the best eyes, I think, in menswear today. However, as they are a smaller company, the customizations options are somewhat limited to the choices that they have already made for you.
Hands down, this is one of, if not the single nicest, shirt I own. The fabric is thick and rich and textured, while at the same time feeling glossy smooth, and super comfortable. It’s truly quite a feat. The buttons are high-quality, weighty, and well-sewn. All the stitching is beautiful and perfect. Nothing is fused, nor stuff. The fabric drapes beautifully, and the collar stands up nicely with or without a tie.
(One thing I will note is that this shirt (maybe this fabric in particular) wrinkles a ton in the wash, more so than any other shirt I own, believe it or not. It takes a bit of ironing work to get it all out.)
Everything about this shirt exudes quality. It is really well done, no question about that. I love the richness of the fabric, I love the fit, I love the style, and I love the quality.
Okay, I’ll stop gushing now.
Price, Value, Comparison, & Conclusion
I’ve reviewed quite a few custom shirt companies now, and have a pretty good idea as to what they are all about, and what sets one apart from another. Most decent custom shirt companies will start at about $80, and go up from there. Articles of Style (depending in the season) starts at $225 for shirts. That is a radically more expensive. Still, their value proposition is totally different. With Articles of Style you get a custom garment, tailor-made just for you. The fitting process, which involves a free fitting shirt, is overseen by a small team of experts that will work with you (even if they could be a bit more proactive) to make sure your shirt comes out perfectly. The fabrics, in both their quality and patterns, are in a class of their own. All of that is where the price differential comes from. Articles of Style is custom tailoring in a league above companies like Proper Cloth, Deo Veritas, or Ratio.
But that is not to say one is better or worse, as far as value goes. You are paying very likely close to double for an Articles of Style shirt, and while you certainly get what you pay for, it might not be worth it to every guy. If you want tons of fabrics options, and seemingly limitless customization options (like, that exact kind of collar style you love), then Articles of Style is not the custom shirt place for you. Look, put more simply, if $225 is just too much to spend on even a custom shirt of this caliber (which is totally understandable), Articles of Style is, once again, not for you. And that is all fine. You can get a wonderfully fitting shirt that is super high quality from Proper Cloth, Deo Veritas, Ratio, or any number of a whole slew of other Made to Measure shirt companies (reviews forthcoming). And you’ll be really happy with ordering a custom shirt from any of those companies!
But, if you really want to treat yourself… if you want something “next level”… if you want something cut just for you via a more advanced Made to Measure system and experience, in the USA, overseen by experts, and made out of ridiculously awesome fabrics… then get out that $225 and head over to Articles of Style. There is nothing else quite like it.