I used to have the S120 No-Pocket Pivot shirt from Outlier, only selling it because the color was simply too dark for my liking and for versatility with how I dress. So when I saw this S140 One Pocket, merino wool, pivot-sleeve, shirt from Outlier, I snatched it up right away.
Outlier states the shirt is “100% Super 140 merino woven in Thailand with non-mulesed Australian merino” which doesn’t mean much to me reading it, but wearing it I can tell you it means “insanely soft and super comfortable”. At 200 gsm this shirt is heavier than the likes of most Wool & Prince button downs, but you hardly notice that when wearing it.
The big question: is it worth $198?
One of the biggest draws of merino wool is the inherent comfort you get from thermal regulation, but there’s simply more to the S140 than that. For starters, as mentioned above, the fabric itself is luxuriously soft. It’s not soft like a nice cotton dress shirt, it’s soft like a well broken in flannel shirt.
Add to the above the pivot sleeve — a design Outlier uses to allow greater range of motion in the shoulders, without adding stretch — and what you have is something that really moves with you. Put another way: this is my preferred shirt to fly in and wear around my house. It’s that comfortable.
Ok, so it feels amazing and is insanely comfortable, but how does it look? It looks fine, unless you need to have it look more formal than a flannel shirt — because the drape is all wrong. Whereas a merino button down like Wool & Prince has a crispness to the fabric, which allows it to wear as business casual, the S140 is too slouchy for that. It looks casual, and I’ve yet to be able to pull it off in a more business casual setting.
The softness simply comes at a price.
However, the design details of the shirt are great. The buttons, hidden buttons for the collar, and the overall cut of the shirt looks fantastic.
I wore this shirt on a cross-country trip, and on the first leg I noticed that there was a pull in the yarn on the sleeve. I assume my backpack strap snagged it somehow and pulled it. I was able to mostly fix it with the needle and thread kit in the hotel (I pulled the loop back to the inside), but you can still see a minor run on the sleeve. You’d never notice it if you weren’t looking for it, but this does give me pause wearing this shirt in situations which require a bit more durability (namely, travel).
Back to the question then: is this shirt worth $198? That’s largely going to depend on where you need to wear it, but for me as someone who works from home and has two small kids around: worth it. I can look nice when I need to jump on a video call but be far more comfortable than most other people in any shirt with a collar.
When I first tried Outlier’s Ultrafine Merino T-Shirt, I understood what the fuss was over a $100+ t-shirt. It wasn’t that it was a really good or the best, merino wool t-shirt you could get — it’s that the UFT is the best t-shirt you can get period. The S140 is the best button down shirt you can buy, the only caveat being that it will only be a casual shirt. I’m quite fine with that.
S140 Long Term Update
I originally reviewed this shirt in March of 2018, and I still have this shirt as of February of 2021. Rereading my original review, I think that it holds true even today.
I’ve experienced no further durability issues since those initial ones, and almost 3 years later, that says something. Inspecting it now, it looks no worse for wear. The only possible sign of wear I can see is around the cuff as the color looks to have possibly faded a shade, but it’s very hard for me to tell.
I still do see this as the most comfortable button down shirt I own. It’s easy to spend your entire day in this shirt, but the trade off is that it doesn’t look dressy enough, crisp enough, to be wearable for date nights or offices. But, it is the ultimate work from home shirt — video call ready with pajama level comfort. I love it. It’s a tough shirt to justify given the limited use, but it should be a shirt to keep an eye on when/if Outlier brings it back into stock — especially if you are long term work from home now.