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

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

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’

Outlier AMB Hidden Placket

Note: Outlier provided this shirt for review purposes.

The Outlier Albini Merino Broadcloth Hidden Placket shirt is a mouthful, and perhaps the most luxurious 100% merino shirt you can buy right now. It’s made from a very fine material which doesn’t feel or look like any other wool shirt on the market.

Material

This is a 100% merino wool shirt, but to stop there would be disingenuous to this shirt. Outlier’s detailing of the fabric is: Made with Albini Merino Broadcloth, 100% Super 140s, 16.5 micron merino fabric, 130gsm, woven in Italy. If, like me, that’s a pretty confusing statement for you, then let me break that down a little more.

The ‘Albini’ portion of the naming (the ‘A’ in ‘AMB’) is representative of the Albini Group in Bergamo, Italy who wove the shirting material. The material itself is 100% 16.5 micron merino wool — a very fine micron to use for shirting of this type. The Super 140s refers to the fineness of the material, and since I am quickly getting out of my depth I will say that means the material is made of very fine strands of wool. The broadcloth, is the type of weave which is seen as dense and soft.

Now, let me translate all of this for you, assuming you still are a little unsure about what all this means. First, this is a 100% merino wool shirt, and it is made with a very fine merino wool strand — this leads to a very soft and luxurious wool. The weave of this shirt, means that it lays down very flat and looks very fine. Further, it is light in weight at just 130 gsm — it’s thin. Translating this further: this shirt is closer to my white button up dress shirts (my cotton ones) than it is to any other wool or synthetic shirt that I own.

The hand feel is smooth, more so than soft, and the drape is a not nearly as rigid as most merino shirts, and especially less so than cotton. It doesn’t ‘stand’ on it’s own, so gravity will always be guiding it. Overall, it’s actually quite a unique and impressive fabric.

Fit and Comfort

I not only love the fit of this shirt, but it is also extremely comfortable. There’s two reasons for this:

  1. The cut of the shirt is excellent, and when you combine that with the natural drape of the material it feels great.
  2. From a comfort perspective not only do you get the great merino wool properties, but there is subtle give in the shirting, and the thinness of the shirt really makes it quite comfortable to wear even in warm weather.

Overall, I have nothing bad to say about the fit or comfort of the shirt — top marks.

Style

Outlier offers this shirting material in two styles: button-up, and hidden placket. They are wildly different looks. The button-up could likely easily be worn into the office, the hidden placket — which I chose for this review — is another beast entirely.

What’s hidden is the buttons on the front, as they have an extra flap of material that sits over the top of them — some might be familiar with this look from more formal shirting. Additionally, this shirt has a front pocket that is a slash pocket — which means instead of it being a more traditional swatch of material sewn on to the face — there’s a slit at the top, and a pouch on the inside of the shirt to make up the pocket. It also seems as though the collars are slightly different between the two shirts, with the hidden placket having a shorter collar.

I personally like the style — it’s a little odd and not something I would typically pick, but I think it is for that very reason I like it. My wife, on the other hand, isn’t the biggest fan of the style. This is one of those: it looks like the pictures, so if you like the pictures then you’ll like the shirt — cases.

Durability

I have noticed that people often ask about the durability of the shirt — likely because it feels so fine and thin, people assume it is not durable. As you might know from my other reviews I have an older top-loading washing machine with an agitator. I washed the shirt in that — no issues. Further, I think this shirt is more durable than at first glance — though I certainly won’t want to wear it with a rough GORUCK style backpack.

If worn and used as a dress shirt, or without a backpack, there should be no problems at all.

Overall

This shirt is among the more luxurious shirts I own — not only from a comfort perspective but from the overall look and feel of the cloth itself. It is thinner than expected, but more substantial than other ‘thin’ feeling wool shirts I have experienced.

This particular shirt lends itself to more casual wear, whereas the ‘button-up’ variant would blend better in the office. Either style you chose, the material is likely not like anything you have felt before, and feels incredibly high quality.

I love the fabric, the cut, the comfort, and really the entire shirt. You do pay for this level of quality though, which is reflected in the $225 price tag. I don’t think most will fill the entire closet with these shirts, but many of us surely would like to fill them with this shirt. It is quite special.

Outlier AMB Hidden Placket

Triple Aught Design Traverse Tech T

I picked up one of Triple Aught Design’s merino blend shirts, the Traverse Tech T, while it was on sale. Like all other blends, these shirts perform well, with varying compromises in each. Let’s dive into the particulars of this one.

Material

The shirt is a 150 gsm material of 86% merino and 14% nylon. There’s no listed micron for the merino, but if I had to guess I would put it at the rougher end of the spectrum, likely somewhere around 18 micron. Overall the shirt is very thin feeling and smooth with no sheen at all. On my body the material feels a little rougher, and those bothered by wool in general will likely want to pass on this as the merino is not so fine as to remove all the wool scratch.

However, I have yet to have any issues with the wool on this shirt, and it is thinner than most offerings I have tried (with the Dreamweight being the only one thinner), while still looking like a standard tee shirt.

Fit

This shirt is cut with a more athletic style, which puts it closer to your body and not in the boxy shirt realm. I found the size Large to fit me incredibly well, exactly how I prefer t-shirts to fit.

Of all the merino wool shirts I have tested, this one fits me the best. I have no complaints at all. I will note that since the fit is less relaxed, you might want to adjust your sizing accordingly.

Where It Sits

This shirt performs as well as any merino wool shirt, and thus I’ll skip right over talking about that. At $70 new (I paid $35 for it on sale) it has a lot of competition. Notably the Outdoor Voices Merino T-Shirt, and the Wool&Prince T-Shirt. The Traverse can not compete with Outdoor Voices based solely on the price, at $55 your money is better spent on Outdoor Voices. Both have great athletic fits, and are thin and casual.

Wool&Prince is a different situation entirely, as I find this to be slightly less casual looking as it is heavier and adds a slight sheen to the material. Again, at $68, it is essentially the same price as the Traverse, but the fit isn’t as good.

There is nothing stand out unique about the Traverse, other than the thinness of the shirt. I do not know the weight of the Outdoor Voices shirt, but it is not lighter than the Traverse. The Traverse seems like a great shirt for those who want a thinner merino t-shirt with the added durability of a nylon blend.

This is not the best or softest shirt, but it is one of the thinner and better fitting shirts I have tried. There’s nothing wrong with it, but the fit is the only thing that stands out. Wait for another sale, or save some money and get the Outdoor Voices shirt. If you truly want a thin shirt, get the exceptional Dreamweight t-shirt I reviewed earlier. It is thinner and softer.

Triple Aught Design Traverse Tech T

Outlier Gostwyck Single Origin Merino T-Shirt

The item in this review was provided by Outlier for review purposes.

Merino t-shirts are among Outlier’s staple items, and it’s no secret that we love them. Ben wears the Ultrafine and Dreamweight T-Shirts, but I haven’t checked one out until Outlier sent me the Gostwyck Single Origin Merino T-Shirt to review.

Fabric

Let’s get the obvious out of the way — this fabric is so soft and stunning you’ll never want to take the shirt off. It is 100% 15.5 micron single origin merino from Gostwyck, Australia. This Gostwyck merino is limited in supply, but has been produced for over two centuries. The single origin nature also allows Outlier trace the fabric back to its source and ensure everything from the land the sheep graze on to the conditions the fabric was made follow all the best standards.

The premium nature of this merino, along with the extremely fine 15.5 micron yarn size and 205 gsm weight, gives the fabric a dense and soft handfeel. If you didn’t know it was merino, you might not suspect so at first. It’s almost hard to describe, but the closest I can come is that it’s like that well-loved heavy cotton t-shirt you’ve had since you were in high school and can’t bear to get rid of. But you really just need to check it out for yourself.

Fit

Like most Outlier shirts, this is a rather boxy cut. I don’t find this to be a negative though, because when paired with the excellent drape, I think it makes it more classic and dressy. I find it pairs well with anything from casual (paired with New Way Shorts or Slim Dungarees) to a more dressy look with Futureworks.

When choosing a size, make sure to note that Black is pre-washed, but Phantom (what I have) and Maritime Blue are not. The latter are cut a bit longer to account for the half size shrinkage when first washed. After washing mine, it definitely shrunk not only on the length, but also the width direction. So make sure you keep this in mind when choosing a size and color.

Comfort & Performance

This shirt instantly became my favorite T-shirt due to it’s smooth, luxurious handfeel and excellent drape. The smoothness makes it glide easily over your body as you move, so you never find it clinging. The weight of the fabric makes it feel sturdy and also gives it an almost cozy feel (while not adding too much to the warmth). It seems like it will hold up better than the average 100% merino t-shirt.

The performance is on par with what you’d expect from a 100% merino shirt, it dries fast for its weight and resists odor extremely well.

Drawbacks

As much as I love this shirt, there are two drawbacks.

The first is ‘bacon neck’, as Ben found with the Dreamweight, the front of the collar exhibits some ripples. I’ve found that even laying flat to dry (per the care instructions) doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. While not a dealbreaker, it certainly gives you pause in a shirt at this price point.

Even right after carefully drying flat, the ‘bacon neck’ is evident.
Even right after carefully drying flat, the ‘bacon neck’ is evident.

The second is the weight, while also a positive, the heavy weight of the fabric makes it dry slower than other merino shirts and has me wondering how it will perform in the dead of the summer (especially in the humidity). Time will tell, but I don’t see it staying my favorite t-shirt in the summer.

Overall

I love this shirt. The fabric takes it to a whole other level from any other merino shirt I own. The smooth handfeel makes it downright luxurious and easy to dress up.

If it weren’t for the ’bacon neck’, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this shirt at $125. Hopefully it is an anomaly in the shirt I received, and with Outlier’s great return policy, it’s at least worth giving this shirt and amazing fabric a hands-on test.

Outlier Gostwyck Single Origin Merino T-Shirt

Outlier Dreamweight T

Note: this item was provided by Outlier for the purposes of review.

The Outlier Dreamweight T takes all the luxury in the Ultrafine T-Shirt and stops it down to a t-shirt which feels too thin and too soft to exist. It’s extremely light, which is where the name comes from.

Material

This is a merino and nylon blend shirt, which is 75% 16.5 micron merino, 25% nylon for a 110 gsm weight. First, notice how fine the micron is on the merino — it’s insanely soft in hand feel. But the bigger deal here is the “intimate” process Outlier talks about with the nylon blending.

I’ll let Abe from Outlier explain it (from his comment on Reddit):

Lots of differences but the biggest is the intimate blend we use versus two different nylon filament techniques. This stuff is intimately blended which means chopped up nylon staples are mixed with wool staples before the mixture is spun into a yarn.

The most common way to combine wool and nylon is core spun, where there is a nylon filament in the middle and the wool is wrapped around. There are also some “beta spun” ones that invert that technique, the wool is in the middle and thin nylon filament are wrapped around the outside to protect the wool yarn. Both these techniques are good for making durable stuff but tend to lose some of merino’s softness. The intimate blend adds nylon strength but if anything it actually makes for an even softer fabric than pure merino.

Typically I can tell when a shirt has nylon in it, versus when it is pure merino. Had I not known beforehand that this shirt had nylon in it — I would have had no clue. It’s softer and thinner than any other merino shirt I have — blend or not. The material is amazing

Fit

I think the fit is the most interesting aspect of this. As I mentioned it is really light, so that lends the shirt to two primary use cases: a shirt for warm weather, or a shirt to wear as a base layer. The material works great for both, but you likely need to adjust the size you order based on how you want to use it. I ordered my standard Outlier size of XL and washed it and dried in on low per the label. The standard thought is it should shrink a bit.

It still fits looser than my Ultrafine T-Shirts of the same size, but not so much so that I would necessarily want to size down. However, if I wanted it as an undershirt, I would size down for sure. At my normal size, the shirt is a great fit for warmer weather where you don’t want your clothing clinging to your body.

The neck is wider on the dreamweight.
The neck is wider on the dreamweight.

Compared to my Ultrafine T-Shirts (I have two, different colors from different time periods) it is larger is most respects by a touch. It’s longer, and wider, with larger arm openings.

Performance

This shirt performs amazingly well — better than any other t-shirt I own currently. It’s cool and breathes very well. It dries very fast, and resists odor on par with any 100% merino shirt.

From a performance aspect it’s an extremely light weight version of the Ultrafine T-Shirt with no drawbacks for how much thinner it is. It’s the shirt you want for hot weather if you want to stick with merino wool.

There’s one other aspect, and that’s the hand feel. This shirt is amazing feeling. It’s not fragile feeling at all, and I do not think I own a softer feeling shirt than this one. It’s the kind of shirt that makes you wish you could wear nothing but this shirt all the time.

Drawbacks

There are two drawbacks to this shirt. The first is the sizing issue I mentioned in the fit section — you’ll want to wear it under stuff but will have a hard time doing that unless you size down. Luckily, this is as easy as ordering two shirts in different sizes.

The second issue is the collar of the shirt. I find it to be a larger opening, which from a style standpoint is fine. It’s great for under other shirts, or in warm weather. The issue is that this is a more casual look, which means it should look crisp and here is where the shirt fails. The neck is very prone to ‘bacon neck’ where the collar has ripples in it like bacon out of the fry pan.

It’s not a complete deal breaker, but it certainly is a setback for what would otherwise be a near perfect shirt. I have noticed that drying the shirt flat and being careful when you dry it will minimize this issue, but using a dryer on low exacerbates the issue.

Overall

I love this shirt, and if it were not for the bacon neck, I would likely only buy these going forward. However, the fit is a bit odd, and I would like to try one size smaller before I fully commit. That said, in hot weather I can’t see wearing the Ultrafine instead of this shirt.

It is fantastic and the hand-feel of the shirt certainly lives up to its name. The neck issue is not an issue for the most part if you dry the shirt carefully, and because of that, I would highly recommend this shirt to anyone looking for a nice undershirt, or a fantastic light weight t-shirt.

Go get one.

Outlier Dreamweight T