Looking for the perfect dress shirt is a bit like looking for the perfect suit - it takes time and knowledge. I remember my first OTR shirts I bought for work. I hated how I looked in them, they were all far too wide and too short. Constantly I had to tuck my shirt and I never felt like I looked good in them. Only later did I realise that OTR sizes just won't do it for me. My first online MTM experience was with Indochino and I knew custom shirts are really the only way to go for me. Since then, I've always been on the lookout for more online MTM tailors to choose from.
There are plenty of possibilities and the market must have become pretty competitive. I've heard some good things about CottonWork and wanted to give them a try. I was also especially interested in their premium fabrics, as the price point is very comparable to Indochino's premium shirts. Just as a disclaimer, I received the shirt for free for this review.
CottonWork has a plethora of fabrics to choose from. 3895 fabrics, actually. There is probably nothing you can't find. Luckily, you can also filter the fabrics, select on those with solid colour, only the blue ones, etc. That of course helps a great deal. Prices start very affordably at $65 and then go up $220 for super fine Italian fabrics.
As I'm still in Asia (and will be for a while), light and breathable fabrics are a priority for me. I went for a fabric from the Thomas Mason collection, a solid blue, medium weight fabric with a thread count of 120-140. The fabric is excellent, smooth and thin.
Next you can configure your shirt. Where Indochino keeps it rather basic, there is an abundance of options to select from at CottonWork - and quite a few of those are really great. It would take to long to list them all, but everything from fit to placket, collar stiffness, buttons, threads and much more can be selected. I imagine it can be a bit overwhelming for someone just looking for a great fit, but I found it very enjoyable to play with.
Sometimes it would be nice to have a little more info on what the option actually does, e.g. when selecting the back details. What's the difference between "Box" and "Two side" and how does it affect the fit?
What makes this shirt different from my Indochino shirts are probably these options:
- Collar height: high collar (I have a long neck, loved having this option)
- Armholes: slim
- Back Details: two side
- Button: thick MOP
Other than that I went for a button-down collar, making the shirt more casual yet versatile. As for the measurements, you can either measure your body, adapt a standard size, use an existing shirt and measure it or you can send a well fitting shirt for them to copy. I went with the first option and remeasured my body (I didn't take the Indochino measurements, as they are tweaked).
The Fit and the quality
Overall, I'm very happy. I did mess up the sleeve measurements as I was a bit confused by the "measure to you thumb knuckle" and it came out a few cm too long (will have that fixed by a tailor). Other than that, it's pretty much spot on. It's a bit less slim fitting than my Indochino shirts but that's not a bad thing, especially here in this heat.
Quality seems great with no loose threads, buttons sewn tight and what appears to be a very high number of stitches per inch. Nothing to complain here. Buttons are of great quality as well and sewn very carefully.
One of the essentials for me, when it comes to online MTM is a perfect fit guarantee, meaning you should be able to return your shirt for a free remake or for a refund. CottonWork is very flexible here, you even get a 60-day return window compared to 14 days for Indochino. They also mention free alterations, but I'm not sure if you'd have to send back the shirt for the alterations or if they reimburse you.
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CottonWork Custom Shirt Reviewed by Lorenz Loidl. Rated: 9/ 10 (Excellent) A great online MTM shirt maker that doesn't disappoint.