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

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

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 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

Outlier Grid Linen Towel

Note: this item was provided by Outlier for this review.

I’ve actually been using Grid Linen Towels for almost a full two years, both for travel as well as everyday. Outlier’s pitch for this towel is that it dries faster, weighs less, and packs down more. Ostensibly they have designed it to be the best beach towel you can buy, however, I’ve found mine are at home in my travel bag and hanging in my bathroom.

Material

This is a 200 gsm towel made of 100% woven linen. This towel isn’t a standard linen towel though, as the ‘grid’ part of the name is important. Here’s how Outlier explains it: “We chose a box weave linen, its three dimensional structure maximizes the surface area of the linen fibers.”

The fabric itself is very rumpled and light. When you hold the towel dry, it’s decently hard to believe it’s capable of drying your entire body. It’s also rough feeling, especially when new, but over time (my almost two year old one is decently soft) the fabric breaks down and gets softer.

Why

The story is that Outlier set out to make a better beach towel — one that dries you off well, without collecting half the beach on it. This towel does do that — though I have only used it at the beach one time. A bigger story with this towel is that it is very lightweight and packs down pretty small, especially when you consider the utility of it. All of this leads to a towel that is very versatile.

A lot of travelers like to take towels with them, this is better than any travel towel I have tried. Many beach goers need extra bags just to carry a beach towel, you won’t with these. And honestly, it’s a better bath towel as well.

So the reason you want this is because you want to use a better towel, and you don’t accept that plush and fluffy is necessarily better.

Use

I’ll break this into two sections: at home, and travel. Let’s start with travel first.

I initially traveled with the size large towel (56” x 36”, or about bath towel size) and found that while compact, there’s not a lot of utility for the type of travel I do with this large of a towel. I quickly switched to a size small for travel (15” x 15”, like a handkerchief) and then bought an extra one after just the first trip.

The small towel shines in travel because you always have a wash cloth with you, but one that dries fast enough that you don’t need to worry about carrying a sopping wet rag in your bag. One of the biggest uses I get with mine is a quick wash of my face with water after a long flight. I’ve also cleaned up many near disaster spills on planes from turbulence and carelessness. The towel absorbs water quickly and dries very fast. I mean it when I say: I do not travel without one of these towels, and I use it about every time.

At home, I use one of the size large towels after every shower and I have done so for almost two years now. I actually have 3, including the one Outlier sent me for testing. After just the first use, I knew it was going to stick around as the towel for me. It takes a little getting used to though.

For one, the linen is thin, and though it can absorb mountains of water, you need to move the towel around — not use just one area — when you dry your body off. Otherwise it stops absorbing water in those spots. This isn’t a big deal, but it will amaze you how long it takes to adjust to this.

It’s also scratchy feeling, especially when it is new. That’s quite nice when you are drying your back — who doesn’t like a back scratch — but can be completely off putting for some people (like my wife, who thinks I am nuts). Overtime it softens, however, it never feels plush and fuzzy like those luxury hotel bath towels. Though, if those hotels knew anything, they’d be using these towels.

Lastly, this towel dries really fast and that has a lot of benefits. The first is that it dries fast enough that gross smells do not tend to build up very fast on it. I did a test a while ago, and found that a standard cotton bath towel could last me about 3 showers at most before it started to build up a smell. This towel can last past 7, and honestly, I stopped testing because I started to feel a little weird about it.

Another benefit is that if you take multiple showers in one day, you might have noticed that your standard bath towel may not have had time to dry. This towel tends to be dry after using it in a few hours time — which is awesome.

Caveat

There are just two caveats with this towel:

  1. It’s scratchy feeling. I don’t mind it at all, but there are going to be many who can’t fathom why you would want anything that is slightly scratchy. You likely know who you are already.
  2. Outlier notes that you should avoid washing this in top-loading washing machines. I honestly didn’t know that until Steve pointed it out when we got these towels from Outlier. I’ve been washing several of these in top loading washers for 22 months — not a single issue at all, other than the tag starting to come off one. Your mileage may vary, but I’ve seen no ill effects.

Lastly, drying these is interesting. I’ve tried drying them by hanging them (Outlier provides a nice loop for doing so) and putting them in the dryer. If you use the dryer, the towels come out really soft and nice. If you hang them they have a scratchier texture to them until you use them a bit.

Drying with the loop stretches the material a bit.
Drying with the loop stretches the material a bit.

Hanging from the loop works great, but will tend to slightly stretch the towel in weird ways — though not in any way that seems to be a deal breaker. However, hanging from that loop dries the towel very quickly, especially if there’s any type of air movement around the towel.

Overall

I love this towel, and I have for a long time now. The small ones are fantastic for travel, and the bigger ones are the only towels I like to use for the bathroom. I’ve taken mine to pools as well, so that I know I can get myself and the kids dried off — because honestly there’s not a lot of bulk added with taking these. They work great at theme parks with kids too.

I’ve tried clear blue, medium gray, natural, and gray rock. I like the look of the clear blue the best, the medium gray did get some discoloration as did the gray rock. The natural is also great and would be my second choice of colors.

Bottom line: if you aren’t turned off by the thought of a towel that isn’t pure plush fuzziness, then you can’t get a better towel for yourself.

Outlier Grid Linen Towel