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Professional Opinion: Men’s Dress Shirts

Judge: Gwen Jurney, owner, Seize sur Vingt custom clothiers.

Illustration by Edel Rodriguez  
  • When it comes to judging the quality of a men’s clothier, there’s no better gauge than a white cotton dress shirt, from the fabric’s feel to the length of the stitches to the thickness of the (preferably pearl) buttons. To help pick the best, Jurney inspected several samples, priced $59.50 to $300, with the labels and price tags obscured.

  • Fifth Place

  • agnès b.

    103 Greene St., 212-925-4649

    Despite a $250 price, this shirt “does not seem to have good fabric or construction,” Jurney said. Plus, “its styling is sporty, exemplified by the top-stitched seam on the back of the sleeve and large buttons. Not recommended with a suit.”

  • Fourth Place

  • J.Crew

    30 Rockefeller Plaza, 212-765-4227

    Our lowest-priced entry ($59.50) didn’t fool Jurney. “It has a soft feel, but I don’t think it’s a good quality,” she said. “The buttons are clearly plastic. The stitch length is quite large. Not very distinctive.”

  • Third Place (Tie)

  • Prada

    724 Fifth Ave., 212-664-0010

    Prada’s $300 contender scored high with Jurney, mainly owing to its silky fabric—or “nice hand,” in her parlance. Jurney was less impressed by plastic buttons. “This is plain front, and some people like that as a cleaner look,” she added. “Stylistically, it’s not my preference, but it’s not uncommon.”

  • Third Place (Tie)

  • Charles Tyrwhitt

    377 Madison Ave., 212-286-8988

    Value-wise, this $99 style scored well. “For an inexpensive shirt, and I do think it’s inexpensive, this one has basic style qualities that I like, and the fabric doesn’t feel bad,” Jurney noted. “It has a little gusset at the side, something they do to strengthen a shirt, that’s sometimes considered nice.”

  • Second Place

  • John Varvatos

    122 Spring St., 212-965-0700

    High-end detailing put this $225 version in second place. “It’s a little too stiff, but this is a broadcloth, which is what I feel is good construction for a basic white shirt. Stylistically, this has everything I like: It’s simple, has no pocket, and has a two-button cuff.”

  • Winner

  • Paul Stuart

    350 Madison Ave., 212-682-0320

    Paul Stuart’s dress shirt is $267, and, apparently, worth it. “Clearly better than the others,” gushed Jurney. “It’s what you want in a traditional white shirt—very crisp-and-clean-looking. It has the nicest side seams, the nicest buttons, the nicest stitching. Everything is nicely done.”

From the 2006 Best of New York issue of New York Magazine