The market for men’s button down shirts seems split on what ‘performance’ means. To some companies it means stuff it in a suitcase and wear it anywhere. To others it means building a shirt that is quietly more comfortable to wear. Proper Cloth seems to be in the latter camp. Their big claim to fame, if you will, is making fully custom sizing for their shirts.
I decided to take one of their more ‘standard’ sized shirts for a spin, and it’s quite interesting.
First, Proper Cloth has many shirt materials ranging from standard to ‘performance’. And then when you get to performance there are many varieties which makes this review tricky. The shirt I ordered is the ‘White Performance Twill’ which is listed as 95% nylon, 5% Spandex. You can find it directly here.
This material is not like any other I have encountered. It has no sheen or noise to it. It is incredibly thin, to the point where it is opaque at times. It is very smooth and crisp looking. It looks like a really nice cotton dress shirt, but feels like not cotton. The stretch is solid, but not earth shattering — it’s enough to be comfortable but not enough to be the type of shirt you feel you could do anything in.
Fit and Style
Ok, so style with these shirts is basically whatever you want it to be — to your hearts content. There’s a ton of options for the collar, cuffs, front yoke, and on and on. So style is always going to be exactly what you want.
Fit is where Proper Cloth looks to own the market, and I am impressed. I decided to take a lazy approach, and what I mean is that instead of sending in all my measurements I went with a ‘standard size’ which is nothing like most standard sizing. The reason I did this is because this is likely how most of you will buy these shirts, and my measurements were also close to their standard sizing.
I went with — Standard Size: 16.5 Collar, 35.5 Sleeve, Slim Fit. That nets out to:
- Collar Circumference 16.50
- Sleeve Length 35.50
- Chest Width 24.50
- Midsection Width 22.00
- Shoulder Width 18.00
- Shirt Length 32.00
- Sleeve Width 9.25
- Cuff Circumference 9.00
- Bottom Width 23.50
- Watch Allowance None
- Shoulder Slope Normal
- Forearm One Pleat
- Shoulder/Armpit Full
- Rear Pleats None
- Back Darts None
- Posture Normal (default)
- Top Button Standard
- Buttons on Front 8
So yeah, they have some detail on these shirts. When you get the shirt, it has very good info on how to send it back if the fit is not perfect. For me, the fit was surprisingly exactly how I wanted it to fit. It’s by far my best fitting shirt — if I had to change one thing I would add watch allowance to the cuff, but I didn’t realize that was an option until long after I had the shirt. Not a big deal.
This shirt is an odd duck for performance. It doesn’t do anything for odor resistance (wear once and wash it), but resists stink better than Ministry’s Aero shirts I normally wear. But this shirt is also wrinkle prone — more so than a cotton no-iron style shirt. You need to iron this shirt before wearing it, and then it stays smooth relatively well. Out of the wash, or after folding it, the shirt is a mess for wrinkles,which is odd for a performance shirt. That said, there’s more to this shirt.
For starters it is really comfortable. It dries very fast. The collar is excellent. But more than that the entire shirt moves and breathes very well. In the heat of Houston’s summer, it is easily the most comfortable dress shirt I own for that heat.
Where it falls down a bit is on the opacity, because I have to wear an undershirt to keep from my nipples showing through the shirt. I suspect a non-white color would remove that concern. The reason I chose white was simply because it’s not often a choice with the shirts I review, so I wanted to see if I could find something that would be a good shirt to wear with a suit.
This is easily the best white dress shirt I have found, and the best overall dress shirt if you want to take your wardrobe to the top end of business casual or wear something with a suit. I wear the shirt often, but I would wear it all the time if I had chosen non-white. The good news for me, I guess, is that I will be buying another one in a different color and style.
The thing about Proper Cloth is that they know the key to looking really good: tailoring. But tailoring has historically been a pain to do, and costly for most people. Here, you just need to buy a cloth measuring tape and you can get a perfectly fit shirt. It’s just icing on the cake that they make really nice performance fabrics too.