Guide: Shirts for the Business Casual Office

Note: some of these shirts were provided at a discount or for free, please see the original reviews for more information.

Finding the right shirt, a good performance shirt, for wearing into a business casual office environment can be quite the task. This guide walks you through each of the shirts we have tested, and how we think they fit into office environments. For this guide, we assume you are washing shirts after each wear, therefore odor resistance is less of a factor.

Outlier NYCO Oxford

Our review.

The Good: The pivot sleeve on this shirt is fantastic, the material is very durable, the collar is solid, and it has a flattering cut.

The Not Good: The look trends more casual, the short body length makes it hard to tuck in, and the heavy material can make it a non-starter in warmer climates.

Overall: While this is no longer made, it is worth mentioning as it is the perfect smart casual shirt, but doesn’t blend well with business casual. The body is cut shorter making it hard to tuck in, but the pivot sleeve is worth noting alone. The best way to think about this, is that if you can get away with wearing your shirt untucked, this shirt should be near the top of your list.

Proof Performance Oxford

Our Review.

The Good: The collar stands up nicely, the stretch is very impressive, and the price is worth noting.

The Not Good: The colors are less than ideal, the buttons don’t quite contrast correctly, and the material is slightly too stiff to pass for a standard oxford.

Overall: Take a standard cotton oxford, add some DWR to resist light water and stains, and then add a ton of stretch. That’s what you get with this, and it is impressive. It doesn’t perform as well as the others in general, but it does have that cotton look to it that many do want if you can be OK with a stiffer (like starched cotton) drape. If you want to stay as stealth as you can, this is perhaps the best option, but I do wish they had a larger selection of colors as I find the offering very limited.

Wool & Prince Button Down

Our Review.

The Good: Comes in a variety of classic styles and sizes, the merino wool is thin and wrinkle resistant, and the performance of the fabric to manage your body temperature is amazing.

The Not Good: While good, the wool is still wool and not as luxurious feeling against your skin as other options, the shirts look great, but don’t quite look standard. Overall the cuts also trend towards a boxier look, which can be tough depending on your body shape. No white option.

Overall: Classic style and a classic cut, this is the most conservative of the options and the most odor resistant. It’s 100% merino, but not obviously something non-standard so it blends in quite well. It is perfect for travel and multi-day wear. It resists wrinkles well, and unlike some of the others I have yet to see it actually look dirty. It is the most performant shirt here.

Ministry of Supply Aero

Our Review.

The Good: The shirt is incredibly light, and the vented armpits really make a difference. The material looks fantastic and blends in well, a wide variety of styles and cuts. The collars are top notch and unmatched on this list. The cuts are very flattering and more modern.

The Not Good: It picks up odors faster than others on this list, and can often start smelling after an active 10 hour day, so if you commute that’s something to note.

Overall: The cuts, collar, and style options are robust and cannot be ignored. The shirt is also extremely comfortable, especially in warmer environments. The only downside with these is that they pick up smells quickly, but if you can, or are OK, with washing a shirt after each wear, these are hard to beat. They never wrinkle and the collars always look crisp as do the bodies of the shirts. Great shirts.

Bluffworks Meridian

Our Review.

The Good: There is no better fabric on this list, it feels amazing against your skin and drapes and looks perfect. There is a large offering of cuts so that you can find something that fits you well.

The Not Good: The collars tend to lay out after prolonged wear and don’t stay as perky as others on this list, and the lack of styles is a big issue.

Overall: If someone can tell by looking that this is not cotton, then they are someone worth talking to. This is a quietly performant shirt. If the collar was button down this shirt would be at or near the top, but as it is it doesn’t hold its place as well as others. The comfort of this shirt is fantastic and it won’t stink too bad after a day, but will require a quick rinse to rid the smell if you want to wear it again.

Mizzen+Main

Our Review.

The Good: Lots of size and style options, with a larger variety of louder styles and brighter colors. The stretch is awesome in these and makes the shirt quite comfortable.

The Not Good: The cuffs and collars are overly thick, and the material has a synthetic look and the shirts pick up odors very quickly — even odors from exterior smells like a BBQ place.

Overall: Looks crisp, but also doesn’t look like cotton. The collars and cuffs are thick and a turn off for many. While the shirt stretches well, there are better options out there.

Outlier S140 One Pocket

Our Review.

The Good: Luxurious feeling merino wool, smart cut, and pivot sleeve.

The Not Good: Expensive, limited color options, and a very causal look.

Overall: The cut and styling is perfect for the office, as are the color options. However the fabric is soft and has a heavy drape which makes it look more like a pajama shirt than a crisp office shirt. While I like the fabric and the fit of the shirt, it is almost athleisure levels of casual.

Outlier Albini Hidden Placket

Our Review.

The Good: The material is amazing, and odor/wrinkle resistant. The cut and fit is fantastic.

The Not Good: The price is very high, and the style of the shirt overall lends itself to a more casual untucked environment.

Overall: The fabric is amazing, but the style pulls it more towards casual and an untucked approach which doesn’t work well in offices. The shirt is very thin, and silky smooth, so it is worth considering if your office is more jeans and t-shirt levels of casual.

Bonobos Tech Stretch

Product.

The Good: It’s cotton, so you can get it in crisp white, and there is also stretch so it is slightly better than a standard cotton shirt.

The Not Good: There is a general lack of wrinkle resistance despite it claiming otherwise, and it can be more difficult to get the shirt to press flat.

Overall: If you are scared by everything else, this is a cotton shirt with stretch and a more comfortable option, but not worth the up charge over a standard cotton oxford.

My Pick

My pick is the Ministry of Supply Aero without a doubt. The cut and wide variety of options while keeping the price in check makes these shirts a good bargain for any office worker. They offer both button down, and poplin styles which increases the versatility of the shirt. While they are designed more to keep you cool than warm, they still layer quite well.

Bluffworks would give the Aero a run for its money if they offered a wider selection of patterns, and perhaps added a button down collar option. Likewise, Wool & Prince would be hard to beat if they offered trimmer cuts to their shirts.

When I want to look sharp in the office, I grab an Aero dress shirt and pair it with my Futureworks.

Some Other Options Not Reviewed

  • Ministry of Supply Composite Merino: Not tested, but looks rather casual. If this is the same fabric as the Composite Polo, it is definitely too casual for a business casual environment.
  • Ministry of Supply Apollo 3: I previously had one, and found the drape to make the shirt look too casual. However, the fabric is stellar from a performance and comfort perspective.

Getting Started: What to Buy

I would recommend starting with three shirts, with this base you should have no problem handling a full work week and could even get away with only washing a load of laundry once in the week. Here’s what I would buy:

  1. Bluffworks Meridian in Highland Gray Check: this is one of my most worn shirts. The coloring will stand out a bit but it goes with everything and hides any potential stains/dirt well. It can be dressed up a touch for business or dressed down easily for evenings.
  2. Ministry of Supply Aero in White: The thing about this shirt is that it rocks in the heat and dries insanely fast. You could have just this shirt and wash it every night and hang it to dry and wear it the next day. That’s the bonus of a white shirt, everyone assumes it is a different one because they assume you own a few. I linked to the polyester not the nylon version, as I have yet to try the nylon.
  3. Wool&Prince Button Down in Light Gray: versatile color which will work well for the evenings and the day. This shirt can be worn 3+ times in a week without washing and still smell and look fresh. My only complaint is that I bought a patterned color when solid would have been a smarter choice.

Those are the shirts and colors I would start with to build a wardrobe for business casual — they will serve you well.

Guide: Shirts for the Business Casual Office

Nomad Pants

Proof is owned by Huckberry, and they have been making the Nomad pant for quite sometime. For most of that time, it was a fabric very similar to Olivers Passage Pant, or Outlier’s OG Fabric. That is to say, it was very technical, stretchy, and had a hard time passing for business casual. And then, quietly, Proof updated the pants and it caught my eye as something I should get right away to test.

So, here we are…the new Nomad Pant.

Material

Proof now makes the Nomad Pant out of Toray Polyester Stretch Twill which is 100% polyester — when first released Proof simply noted these were a Japanese Twill, so I am glad to see the refined explanation for what they are. Now, you likely think 100% polyester, no thanks, but you should look past that because the fabric content tells a lie about the material performance.

These pants are the stretchiest pants I own, and par with Outlier’s beloved OG Fabric. They are also very smooth both in looks and hand feel with a subtle twill texture to them. The only part that belies the polyester nature is the slight sheen the pants have. Fortunately there are no sounds associated with wearing them.

Fit and Style

The style of these pants is very chino in nature, and the slant pockets make for a dressed up look that is easily worn in business casual environments. The fit, even for the straight variant I ordered is slim, so if you are looking for a very slim pant the slim version of these is likely to be your cup of tea.

From a style and fit perspective I love these. They would be near perfect if they had a matte finish, but it is hard to find fault with them. The drape is also aided by the thickness of the pants, and gives a very nice look.

Performance

Performance wise, these are among the most comfortable pants I own. Even the waistband has a lot of stretch, and they never feel restricting. Which is why they are now my go to pant to wear on a plane, as they are easily the most comfortable pant I have worn for travel.

Beyond the stretch, the fabric is rather thick, though they breathe decently you won’t be finding me wearing these much about 80 degrees F. They repel and shed water and other spills admirably, and stay looking clean basically at all times. The caveat to that, is that they are prone to picking up lint at times — especially from tissues.

One great thing about the fabric weight is that they hide what is in your pockets better than many other slim fitting pants. There is also a hidden pocket in the right pocket which is very well done and luckily not at all visible.

I do have two gripes about this pair of pants:

  1. The zipper tab for the hidden pocket gets in my way more than I would like. I think if they reversed the direction of the zipper this would be much better (pull up to unzip instead of down), which should also make it even more hidden.
  2. The back pockets are secured shut with a snap button in the center. I hate this. It means you cannot put your phone in your back pocket as that pocket has metal in it, which is beyond annoying.

One last thing to mention: these dry faster than any pants I own. Which is quite impressive.

Overall

Here’s the last thing you need to know about these pants: they are $98 at the time of writing. So even with the small issues I have with the pockets, for that price these pants are very hard to beat. As long as you don’t need pants for really hot weather, I don’t see how you can go wrong with these. They dress up well, as can be dressed down equally well — just like chinos. I snagged the navy colorway, and am very happy with that.

They won’t replace Futureworks for me, but if I didn’t already have two pairs of Futureworks, I would have two pairs of these Nomads — they are very good and very inexpensive.

Nomad Pants

Western Rise StrongCore Merino Tee

This shirt was provided by Western Rise for review purposes.

Western Rise is one of the many new-ish entries to the technical clothing market, introducing many of their products through Kickstarter. We have reviewed their The Evolution Pant (our review), and they recently sent us their StrongCore Merino Tee. It should be noted that this is the second version of this shirt (the first version had a pocket), made in their new LA factory.

We had inquired about the DryWeight Merino Tee, as we were looking for more tees for hot weather (to compare with the Outlier Dreamweight and Ramielust). However, they informed us that they were discontinuing that shirt.

Fabric

The fabric of this shirt is 89% 17.5 micron merino/11% nylon. The finer merino used here makes the fabric very soft and never scratchy, however, it is not the softest on the market (that title goes to the Outlier tees).

Coming in at 170 gsm, the weight of the fabric gives it a nice drape. The only indication that if isn’t brand new after numerous wears and a few washes is that light “fuzzing” most merino exhibits. This is a good sign for the long term durability of the shirt.

Fit

I was on the borderline between L and XL in the Western Rise size chart. I chose an XL and am glad I did. The shirt shrunk a little when I washed it the first time (cold, air dry) and it fits me well, but would probably have been a little tighter than I like after a wash if I had picked L.

Overall, the fit seems on-par with other merino tees I own, and I would probably compare it most closely to the Outlier XL cut.

Comfort and Performance

I’ve been wearing this shirt for a few weeks now and it performs as expected for a core spun merino blend shirt. It has all the odor resistance of a 100% merino shirt with the extra durability of nylon.

The weight of the fabric makes it a good all-around tee, but it is probably not the best pick for the warmest weather, as midweight merino tends to soak up sweat and get heavy (this is where ultralight merino or synthetics shine).

The v-cuts at the bottom on both sides of the hem are supposed add some performance by breaking the “fabric tube”, but I didn’t find any benefit other than adding a little different look to the shirt. Maybe if you wear your tees more snugly across the waist/hips, this would make a difference.

Overall

Overall, the Western Rise StrongCore Merino Tee is a worthy contender, but with the sheer number of good merino tees out there now, I don’t think it rises to the top.

At a lower price point, this tee might rank better, but for $96, it wouldn’t be my top pick. To me, the Outdoor Voices Merino T-Shirt (our review), which can be had for $55, and is a merino blend with a great balance of price and performance. I’d also throw the Wool & Prince Crew Neck ($68) and the Outlier Runweight ($88) in this price range as competition.

The merino t-shirt market certainly is putting out some tough competition right now. If the v-cuts on this tee make a difference for you, this is definitely a shirt to check out.

Western Rise StrongCore Merino Tee

What We’re Wearing: May 2019

Ben and I have been talking about our packing lists, and realize they’ve become quite repetitive. In order to remedy that, we’ve come up with a new idea to replace both our packing lists and guides. We plan to publish this “What We’re Wearing” series about every quarter, to give you an idea of what we are wearing and what we are excited to be trying out for the next couple of months.

Steve

With the crazy weather swings we’ve been having so far this spring, I’ve been moving back and forth between my winter and spring gear. I’m looking forward to getting outside more and here’s what I’ve been wearing.

Business Casual

The Outlier Futureworks (our review) are still my favorite pants for business casual dress, however, the recent price increase to $148 moves them up market some. I’ve recently been finding the Western Rise The Evolution Pant (our review) to suit some of my business casual needs where a 5-pocket style is appropriate. This is especially true as the weather warms as they are the lightest pants I own.

For an even more classic chino look, I’ve just started testing the Wool & Prince Slim Chino (provided for review by Wool & Prince) and no one would ever know they were made from a wool/nylon blend. I’m quite impressed so far, and am interested to see how they perform as the weather continues to warm since the fabric is fairly heavy.

The Mack Weldon SILVERKNIT Polo (our review) is the polo I was searching for last year. The cotton content keeps it looking jut like a traditional polo, and the silver anti-odor treatment gives me multiple wears. For long sleeves, I still go to my Wool & Prince Button-Downs (our review) for their odor-resistance. If I want something less fussy (but only one wear) I go for my Bluffworks Meridian 2.0 Dress Shirt (our review).

Shoe wise, my Allen Edmonds Higgins Mill boots are holding up well and still are my go to, always with Darn Tough socks.

Casual

For casual wear, I’ve been testing a bunch of new T-shirts so I haven’t been wearing just one or two recently. My Pistol Lake One-Bag Henley (our review) is still going strong and works well for spring wear.

I’ve found the Western Rise pants to also work well for my casual wear, and wear those or my Outlier Slim Dungarees (our review). For shorts, my Outlier New Way Longs (our review) are always my favorite (although they haven’t gotten much wear yet this year).

I am still looking for a nicer pair of casual sneakers/shoes that look good with shorts, but I’ve been wearing my Merrell Trail Gloves (our review) and Bedrock Cairn 3D Adventure sandals.

Exercise

I’m still wearing and loving my Y Athletics SilverAir Merino T-shirt (our review) and Long Sleeve for all my exercise needs. They have been holding up well (with minimal abrasion from my GORUCK bags) and give me more wears than I care to take between washes.

My go to shorts are the Myles Apparel Momentum Short 2.0 (our review) and sweats the Momentum Pant (our review). For hiking I’ve been wearing the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pant.

Shoe wise, I’m also wearing my Trail Gloves (gym) or Altra Lone Peak 4 (rucking/hiking).

Outerwear

Going into the spring, I picked up a The North Face Ventrix Jacket as a light and breathable insulated soft shell. I had been eying the Arc’teryx Proton LT all winter, but it never went on sale. I figured the sale price of the Ventrix jacket made it much easier on the wallet than the Proton LT and it seems to be reviewed favorably. I plan to be writing a review once I give it a good try.

As far as rain wear, I find myself going for my Outdoor Research Helium II (our review) when I want a hood or packability and my Myles Apparel Elements Jacket (our review) when I want something nicer looking or just need something to break the wind. I’m debating if I should also try and pick up a light and thin windbreaker for when I don’t need something waterproof.

Travel

I’ve been wearing and packing the above when traveling. Of course, still carrying my trusty GORUCK GR1 26L backpack. The Trail Gloves pack down nicely if I want to bring a pair of exercise shoes.

Formal

I recently was in a wedding and bought a Indochino suit for it. Since I don’t live near a store, I did my initial measurements at a store when I was traveling, but had to do the remake measurements myself at home (the first jacket and pants fit horribly). The suit turned out better than off the rack, but if I were to buy another suit from them, I’d definitely take the one I have into the store to have my measurements further dialed in before ordering. Overall, the process went pretty well and I’m happy with the quality of the suit.

Ben

While the weather has been steadily warming here, I have also been flying back and forth to Houston on a very regular basis. So I have been wearing cool weather clothes, and hot and humid clothes off and on. As it keeps warming everywhere and I prepare to move to Houston, here’s what I have going on:

Business Casual

All of my wardrobe for business casual is happening in Houston where it is substantially warmer than where I live. I have been wearing both Futureworks and Proof Nomad pants to the office — both are pretty great but I still lean towards the Futureworks as I think they look better. As I mentioned I pair them with the Thursday Boots I recently wrote about and a pair of Darn Tough socks as always. I have been using my Slidebelt, but I am starting to think I need to switch to something else as that belt can’t make it through the metal detector at the airport every time.

On the shirt side of things I have been torn between wearing the Bluffworks Meridian, and the Ministry of Supply Aero shirts. I usually wear both, but they both have replaced the Wool & Prince shirts when I am in the office. I prefer wearing them to the wool dress shirts. No one was more surprised by this than me, but the non-wool shirts wear cooler and have more flattering cuts for me.

Casual

At home, whether I am working or hanging out — or for family vacations — I have been testing all sorts of new stuff. My bottoms have remained pretty much the same, with Slim Dungarees most days, Strong Dungarees on cold days and mixing in New Ways if it is hot, or the Bluffworks Departure Jeans when I want to go relax on the Washington coast. All of them are killer and I will mix in the Olivers Passage Pants when the weather warms up more. If I had to pick one pair of these pants, it would be the Strong Dungarees, they are killer.

My tops are where they has been a lot of shuffling recently. I still wear a lot of my merino tees, and the Wool & Prince polo, but I have also been testing the Outlier Ramilust T-Shirt, the Northern Ramie Pivot, a few linen shirts, and a hemp shirt as well. All of them provide all sorts of unique benefits, so there will be a lot to write about there.

Work Out

Nothing much has changed here, where I wear GORUCK Simple Pants, MACV-1s, TAC Hat, and either a Tough T, or my Y Athletics SilverAir Merino shirts. I love them all, and they have been holding up great.

Travel

I have found one area that holds very true, because if you see me in an airport I am most likely wearing Proof Nomad pants and a Wool & Prince button down (you cant beat never stinking with this shirt, no matter the travel delays). For travel, I greatly prefer this setup. The Nomad pants are extremely stretchy, and look sharp while resisting anything which could make them dirty. And the merino wool button down makes sure that I don’t stink, even when the AC stops working on a 4 hour flight as it recently did.

Outerwear

Surprisingly I have only been wearing a few layers:

  • GORUCK Simple Windbreaker: this is great for travel and for shrugging off a light breeze or some light rain. I could make a case for this being the only jacket I need.
  • One other surprise for me is how much I wear the GORUCK Full Zip Hoodie in the light fabric they sell. It is a near perfect weight for cool, but not cold, weather.
  • Triple Aught Design Rogue RS: this is too heavy to travel with, but it is my go to for this warming spring weather, and will be for cool nights as well.

Looking to Get and Test

I am looking to get a couple more polo shirts, as soon as Steve decides which one is the best to get. And I am also eyeing the new Ministry of Supply Labs Dot Air Blazer which is made for warm weather — it looks killer.

What We’re Wearing: May 2019

Outlier Ramielust T-Shirt

Note: this item was sent by Outlier for review.

It is common knowledge, that when the weather gets hot, you should wear more linen because it will keep you cool. As many of you know there are some merino wool shirts which will also help, such as the Dreamweight I recently reviewed. But there is also something called ramie, and it destroys any other fabric for keeping you cool in hot and humid weather. Of course, Outlier brings us this unique fabric in their Ramielust T-Shirt.

Let’s dive in…

Material

This is a tough one, because it is ramie. But what is ramie? Outlier tells us: “It’s a nettle plant native to Southeastern Asia, the stalks of which can be processed into a fiber quite similar to linen.” So this is a 100% ramie shirt at 200 gsm — a shocking weight for a shirt made to be worn in hot and humid weather. Which is why I will also quote one other thing from Outlier’s description of this material: “For cold and humid this stuff is actually dangerous…” And Outlier is very serious about that statement because they also include a special card in the box to further warn you of this.

Exciting stuff, at least for clothing materials.

Style & Fit

If you are familiar with Outlier’s Ultrafine T then you know how this will fit. Slightly boxy, with good length. These shirts actually run longer, but they shrink after you wash them the first time and roughly come back to the same length as the Ultrafine.

The material itself has a slight sheen to it, and a hand feel that is a little rough because the weave makes for a strong texture. I got the purple and it is a great color, a nice change from the typical gray/black/navy hues you find in most performance shirting. When you hold the shirt up to light, you can see through it, as the knit is very open, but not enough that I had any issues with it being see thru.

Looking through both layers of the fabric at the window behind.
Looking through both layers of the fabric at the window behind.

For me the fit is excellent, and the shirt doesn’t stand out as anything out of the ordinary when wearing it.

Performance

Ramie is all about performance. I tested this shirt through theme parks with a backpack on and I was impressed. It lives up to the hype Outlier surrounds it with. At Seaworld I got wet, sat in the hot sun, sweated and all in all the shirt performed better than any shirt I have ever worn. This is inclusive of all performance hiking and athletic shirts. It breathes insanely well, it sucks moisture away and dries rapidly.

For a 200 gsm shirt it felt very cool, at times I was running a little cold. In fact, I was able to get two wears out of the shirt as it had accumulated no smell. And when I put the shirt on, after it hung in a closet in my air conditioned room, I thought the shirt was actually damp somehow. Because the room was cold, and the shirt made it colder.

Outlier is not joking when they warn not to wear this in cold weather, its like wrapping your body with an air conditioning unit when you are in a colder environment.

Overall

I was not excepting this shirt to perform this well, because not everything lives up to the hype. I think this shirt exceeds the hype around it, and it immediately had me looking at all the other ramie offerings Outlier has. Definitely two thumbs up on this, so if you are looking for a good summer shirt as the weather heats up, get this — but only if you live in the hot and humid climates.

Outlier Ramielust T-Shirt

Proof Performance Oxford

The Proof brand makes a very interesting set of clothing options in the performance realm. With some items, like this Performance Oxford, the performance amounts to very small changes over the standard. The goal of this shirt is to make something which looks completely normal while resisting stains, wrinkles, and being more comfortable. To some degree, it achieves just that.

Material

This is a heavier shirt with a dense weave to the material. It’s a 70% cotton / 27% nylon / 3% LYCRA® blend which offers solid stretch with a very normal look and drape. It also has a DWR coating to help resist staining.

Fit and Style

The fit is pretty standard for an oxford, it’s not overly tailored, but not at all boxy — I would put it around a tailored fit you would get from Brooks Brothers. On the style front this shirt looks good, certainly better than shown in the marketing pictures — I’ve received more compliments on my ‘looks’ while wearing this shirt than any others. The shirt is long enough to tuck in for me, but not so long as to keep you from wearing it untucked.

The big style issues with this shirt are twofold:

  1. The collar isn’t quite right, and that includes the buttons used to hold the collar in place. (I would also prefer contrasting colored buttons).
  2. The available colors for this shirt are not great and far from ‘standard’ which will make incorporating it into your wardrobe a bit more of a chore.

The dark navy color I got onto pairs well with lighter color pants or solid black. Even denim doesn’t work well with it.

Comfort and Performance

This shirt is comfortable. Both because of the stretch and because of the familiar materials. It doesn’t dry fast or wick away sweat well, but it moves with you freely and wears warmer for cooler weather.

I have yet to be uncomfortable in this shirt, but I have not wanted to wear it in warm to hot weather. The wrinkle resistance is OK, but not impressive compared to other shirts in this category. It does wash and hang dry nicely, without a need for further ironing or steaming.

Overall

At $98 this shirt is a bargain for what you get. Many have been lamenting the demise of the Outlier’s NYCO Oxford, and I think this is a good replacement. What this shirt lacks in durability it makes up for with the added stretch and better cut. This shirt is best for people who only want to dip their toes into the performance shirting world, and not let anyone else know their shirt is anything but standard. The biggest drawback of this shirt is the high cotton content which keeps it from being quick drying. For an everyday shirt where you have access to more than one shirt this is a great shirt.

Proof Performance Oxford

Ministry of Supply Aero Dress Shirts

Note: Ministry of Supply provided these shirts at a discounted price for review purposes.

Ministry of Supply was my first foray into the performance clothing realm, and they have a very science backed approach to clothing. They also make a large variety of clothing with a clear focus for office workers and business travelers. It is also worth noting that they have a robust women’s line offering (when compared to other performance brands). I first tried the Apollo line years ago, so for this go around I wanted to test the Aero line which seems to fit what I like best: hidden performance.

Material

The material on this shirt is a polyester and elastase blend (98% moisture-wicking polyester, 2% elastane), making for a comfortable shirt with excellent wrinkle resistance and good mobility. (Note: Ministry has a few newer Aero shirts that use a nylon blend, I have not yet tested those.) The hand feel on this shirt is interesting, as exterior of the shirt is very slick feeling, while the interior is softer feeling.

The fabric itself is very thin, perhaps the thinnest shirt I have tested yet, though it thankfully has no issues with transparency. Overall the fabric is very nice, with no noise when you move, solid stretch, and excellent dry times.

Fit and Style

Ministry sells both slim and standard cuts of the shirt, both I bought are size L Slim, and they fit very well on my body. The sleeves are long enough, the collars are sized correctly, and the shirt has a tailored look through the body. As far as styling goes, they have a huge selection of colors and patterns available, almost all of which are very classic business looks. Nothing about the design of this shirt will stand out in an office, which is good.

Crucially the collars are something worth noting, as Ministry has taken the time to try and perfect the collars of these shirts. I bought two styles, a traditional button down (where the collar buttons down), and a button up (where the collar has no buttons). Both are great, with the button down having a stiff enough collar that it always looks sharp.

But I want to focus on the button up, as those collars are notoriously hard to manage. Here’s what Ministry says about the collar: “Geometric design and built-in, never-warp collar stays remain crisp on its trips through the washing machine. (Yes, the washing machine.)” I will attest that this statement is not hyperbole or marketing fluff, it’s the real deal and has left me very impressed. The collars have built in stays which are not removable and are very flexible. I didn’t realize they were there at first. And the entire collar stays put just as you would want it to all day long. I am not sure what kind of magic this is, but it does feel like magic.

The material looks pretty close to cotton, but has a very slight sheen to it. Not enough that most would notice, but when comparing to cotton side by side you can tell. Otherwise the shirt is very normal looking, making it even better for blending in.

Overall, whether it be the style, or the fit, this shirt is perhaps the best looking and fitting of any I have tried.

Comfort and Performance

Ministry has three claims to the performance, so let’s tackle them all individually. The first claim is that the shirt is great for mobility, because of the stretch and cut. While the shirt is better than basic cotton, I do find myself wishing for a touch more stretch, but only in the most extreme circumstances like bending forward with both arms to tie a shoe. Otherwise I’ve not been restricted by the shirt in any way.

The second claim, as stated on the website, is: “Targeted laser-cut ventilation combined with moisture-wicking, breathable fabric pulls sweat away from your body, reducing stains and odor.” This is almost two claims in one, both that the shirt will resist odor and keep you cool and comfortable. Let me just state now that I don’t see a high odor resistance with this shirt, as I can only get one wear out of the shirt before it stinks. On the cooling however, this shirt is amazing.

As I mentioned this shirt is very thin, which means that it wears very cool. Couple that with how fast the shirt wicks moisture and dries, you can start to get a sense for how well it handles heat. But there’s also a series of laser cut vent holes in each armpit that you cannot see when wearing the shirt, to further aid with cooling.

I’ve worn this shirt both in a Seattle winter, and high 80 degree humid heat in Houston. In cold weather, this shirt is very cool to wear and needs layers. In hot weather this shirt is awesome, where even a slight breeze can cool you greatly. It is the best hot weather dress shirt I own, with only the linen shirts competing.

For all this awesome there is one issue I’ve had with the shirt: it shows sweat easily. So it is common to see armpit sweat on this shirt when the sweat is still wet, in both colors I own, and though it dries quickly and there’s no residue left behind. There’s no masking of it at all, which is rather unfortunate.

The last claim is wrinkle resistance, and I’ll be short in this one because this shirt resists wrinkles better than any other I have tested. They fall out quickly and are harder to get set in. If you often are annoyed by your bag causing your shirt to wrinkle, this shirt will remove that annoyance.

Overall

At just $115 this shirt is a great value and perhaps the best option on the market for office workers looking to fly under the radar with shirts that perform better. It would also be a killer travel shirt if it had a little better odor resistance, but unfortunately there are better options to keep you from needing to wash with every wear.

For me, I’m going to get one or two more of these shirts, because they are great if multi-day wear is not something you need to worry about.

Get one here.

Ministry of Supply Aero Dress Shirts

Mack Weldon SILVERKNIT Polo

If you’ve heard of Mack Weldon, it’s probably for their underwear. However, they offer a wide range of Men’s basics, including the SILVERKNIT Polo. I’ve continued my polo search for the spring as I didn’t find the perfect one last year. This polo is the first one I’ve tested this year and I think it’s a great.

Fabric

The fabric on this polo is 42% combed cotton, 42% Modal, 10% XT2 polyester, and 6% spandex. The key here is the Silver XT2 — it gives the polo it’s odor resistant properties. Just looking at the fabric, you’d think it was your standard cotton pique polo as there is absolutely no technical sheen. The high Modal content helps with the moisture management, and the cotton gives it that standard cotton look, drape, and feel. The spandex adds just a bit of stretch for extra comfort.

Fit

I would say the fit of the polo is classic, but not the boxy classic you see from brands like L.L. Bean and Lands’ End. I fall into the middle of the size range for the XL, and found the fit to be perfect. The length works well for either tucked or untucked wear. After washing cold and air drying, I didn’t notice any shrinkage.

Another key aspect of any performance polo is the collar, and this one passed the test. It stays sharp and doesn’t look unnatural or floppy.

Comfort and Performance

The is among the most comfortable polos I own. The fabric feels like a really soft cotton with some added stretch, but doesn’t ever feel moist like cotton can. It is lightweight enough that I can see it being very comfortable in the heat of the summer, as when it gets a bit sweaty, it dries fast.

I was skeptical of the anti-odor claims, but was proven wrong. Even wearing it during two long travel days, I was able to get 3 wears before washing (and could probably get more). In comparison, I also wore my Ministry of Supply Apollo 3 Polo (our review) on this trip and it smelled after just one wear (worse than this polo after 3 wears).

Overall

This polo has moved to the top of my list. It looks like your standard pique cotton polo while maintaining odor resistance, good moisture management, stretch, and has a good collar. If you are looking for a casual or business polo for the upcoming warmer months, the SILVERKNIT Polo is definitely worth a try and will be my go-to. It represents a good value at the $78 list price, but becomes an even better value at the 20% off that you can easily get with a coupon or a $200 order (once you spend $200, you also get 20% off all future orders as well).

Mack Weldon SILVERKNIT Polo

Natural vs. Synthetics for Tops and Bottoms

If you’re a regular reader of Everyday Wear, you probably notice some fiber bias in our choices for tops vs. bottoms. We typically find natural fibers to be the best for tops and synthetic for bottoms. Hopefully that bias can be explained in more detail here.

Tops vs. Pants

To start, the nature of skin contact of tops vs. pants is different. Think about any of your traditional cotton clothing — bottoms like jeans can go many wears between washes, but cotton t-shirts typically need to be washed after every wear.

This difference in how much sweat and skin oils accumulate is why tops typically need more odor resistance than pants to have a benefit over the traditional options. Most also tend to be more sensitive to the feel of fabric of a top vs. bottom as well. This helps guide our choice of fabrics.

Natural vs. Synthetic

A few of the big differences between natural and synthetic fibers — odor resistance, durability, feel against the skin, moisture management, and looks — help guide fabric choice based on the application.

Natural fibers like wool and Tencel tend to have more odor resistance than their synthetic counterparts while maintaining good moisture management. They also have the best feel as they tend to look better with a more natural drape and non-shiny finish. Where natural fibers can fall down is durability (especially wool).

The synthetics, like nylon and polyester, tend to have more durability (nylon) and excellent moisture management (polyester). Where they excel in technical performance, they can lack in feel and looks. No one wants a rough nylon shirt against their skin or a clingy and shiny polyester shirt for wear outside of active pursuits.

Blends of natural and synthetic can often combine the best of both worlds, but can also end up with the worst properties of both.

Tops

For all the reasons covered above, tops need to have excellent odor resistance, moisture management, and comfort. This is why many of our favorites are merino like the Outlier Ultrafine Merino T-shirt (our review) and merino blends like the Wool & Prince Crew Neck. The odor resistance and comfort of merino can’t be beat.

We’ve also found some good synthetic and non-merino natural/synthetic blends that perform well for a top; including the cotton/polyester blend of the Proof Passage Tee (our review) and the polyester/Tencel blend of the Pistol Lake Minimalist Tee (our review)

Bottoms

Bottoms, on the other hand, can sacrifice some of the odor resistance and softness needed in a great top for more durability and structure. Our favorite pants include the Outlier Futureworks (our review) and OLIVERS Passage Pant (our review). These are both mostly nylon, which seems to us to give the best balance of comfort, looks, and durability.

Conclusion

Not a surprise, but the selection of the best fabric for a piece stems mainly from its’ performance. We favor natural fibers for tops for the odor resistance and comfort and synthetics for bottoms for the durability and structure.

Of course, this all comes down to personal preference, but we’ve found that we lean this way for our favorite pieces in our wardrobes.

Natural vs. Synthetics for Tops and Bottoms

Initial Impressions: Thursday Boot Company ‘President’

I’ve been wearing the President boots now for a couple of months, not long enough for a full review, but enough to give you some idea of what they offer. I went on the search for a pair of boots to wear into the office everyday, and was lead down the dizzying array of boot offerings. Ultimately I settled on a pair of Thursday Boot Company ‘President’ boots.

These are fantastic.

About Thursday

Started on Kickstarter a few years ago, Thursday Boot Company has a simple mission:

We started Thursday to offer an alternative: ridiculously high quality footwear at honest prices that could handle our busy lives in New York City.

I’d say they have done just that with the price range for all their shoes being $149 – $265. And for a a shoe company those are not only low prices, but a very tight price range. The boots I am reviewing here are $199 and offer a Goodyear welt construction — which means you can resolve them when the time comes.

There’s a few criticism of the company out there:

  • They are really young so the warranty doesn’t mean much yet. And their youth also means there’s not any way to know how these will be a decade from now.
  • At $200ish dollars their boots are not an insane value, which makes them compete with other established low cost offerings.

If you search around about this company you are going to hear negative things. These negative things really are not fair, as they mostly are complaining about Thursday differing from the promise of the Kickstarter campaign, and not on the actual quality of the boot. This is common with projects like this. But a few years on now, the consensus is: really solid boots at very fair pricing, with good customer service and longevity.

Or put another way, people have been wearing these boots since they came out, and they are still going strong. At $200, that’s a pretty sweet deal. Even better, all of their shoes and boots are designed to be resoled.

Fit and Buying

Thursday is of course one of those new companies that exist only online. You buy them online and they offer guidance on what you should buy as it relates to sizing and fit. I ordered the President in Brown, size 11.

However, the size calculator on the site encouraged me to order size 10.5, I have found the 11s fit me perfectly. I decided to go against the sizing as every shoe I have bought in a 10.5 has been proven to be too small. (Steve had the opposite happen, where it recommended a size which ended up too large.) I did worry these would initially fit fine, but stretch out and be too large.

Those fears were unfounded and the boots have fit great the entire time.

You can return/exchange your boots for free, assuming they show no visible wear. I hate that type of caveat as it is extremely subjective. So I would say putting the boots on, lacing them up, and walking across the room is about the limit before you can’t return them.

Luckily I guessed correct, and I would say that if you are new to leather boots, get something close to your normal dress shoe size, and order two pairs if you are on the fence about the sizing. It will save you a ton of hassle.

Style

Thursday offers a lot of classic styles, and the President is as simple as they get. From the moment I opened the box, and still today, I love the style of these boots. The designers hit the sweet spot with these boots, and the brown is a rich a vibrant dark brown that should age quite nicely.

Comfort

Out of the box these boots were very comfortable, so much so I had assumed I was doing something wrong. I broke them in by wearing them while working at home (I stand to work) wearing them for 4 hours the first day, waiting a full day, and then wearing them for another 8 hour day. After that I put them on for a work trip where I wore them for four days straight (not recommended, but I hate traveling with more than one pair of shoes). Not once did my foot get fatigued, or have any hotspots.

These boots broke in quickly and were comfortable the entire time. They have only gotten more comfortable since then, and I am very impressed with the comfort.

Durability So Far

On a recent trip I had to walk through a bad snow storm which left slush and deicing agents everywhere. The boots held up impressively well, with the deicing agents used wiping off with a damp towel. They have weathered many flights, my kids, and everything else.

They have the light scuffing you would expect to find on the leather at this point, and I have yet to try and remove those. Overall, they are holding up well, but it is certainly too early to tell.

Thoughts So Far

I am impressed, beyond what I expected. There’s a lot of value in these boots — not only from a price perspective but from a classic design, Goodyear welt, and comfort. I expected my feet to hurt after a full work week of wearing these boots everyday, walking all around, but not only did my feet not hurt, but they weren’t even fatigued.

I haven’t had the boots long enough to form a a definitive position on them, nor have I had them long enough to sort out what (if any) gotchas may lie ahead — I will say I am planning on my next shoe purchase being another Thursday Boot.

Initial Impressions: Thursday Boot Company ‘President’