At Milk Shirts, we specialise in tailor-made men’s shirts, so we know everything there is to know about the men’s tailored shirting business. However, we appreciate that not every guy does.  So often we have men come to us without really knowing what they want from their tailor-made shirt.  Every trip to the tailor can be a daunting one, especially when confronted with questions such as “Do you prefer a a split collar? A club collar?”  “Would you like a pleated yoke?”  “How about spalla con grinze?”  “Would you prefer pique or twill?”  If you don’t speak the tailor’s jargon, it can be a thoroughly intimidating and overwhelming experience.  We’re a big believer in doing your research and coming up with an action plan before going to the tailor.  Otherwise, when confronted with the overwhelming choice of endless customization, you can get lost in the moment and end up coming out with a shirt that is overcomplicated and not at all done in your taste.  Here are some of our top things to consider before you next head to the tailor to get a shirt made.


#1. Fabric: Every tailored shirt should start with making a decision about what fabric you’d like, as the type of fabric you choose may dictate whether you go for a more casual style, a more formal style or something in between.  Oxford fabrics are usually considered to be more casual, while piques are on the more formal end.  Most dress shirts are done in a twill or herringbone weave.  If you’re not great at visualizing the final product, ask your tailor to drape the fabric over your shoulder so that you get a sense if you like the color, pattern and texture.


#2. The Collar: As your shirt collar sits closest to your face, it is the one detail on your shirt that is most noticeable to others.  The key to deciding what collar style you like really depends on whether or you plan on wearing it with a tie or bow-tie and, if so, what kind of tie or bow-tie.  Skinnier collars look better paired with skinnier ties.  Button collars are usually deemed more casual.  Wings, of course, are typically reserved for black tie affairs.  Novelty collars such as the club collar are coming back in style, so don’t be afraid to experiment with these if you wish.  You can also consider going for a contrast collar; that is, a collar that is in a contrasting fabric to the rest of your shirt.  These are typically done in a plain white and matched with contrast cuffs, as well.


#3 Stitching: The stitching on your shirt can really make or break it.  Examine some of your tailor’s other work in their workshop to get an idea of whether or not their stitching is smooth and flat.  There’s nothing worse than bumpy uneven stitching; it’s a sure-fire way to make you look messy and disheveled.  You can also use stitching as an accent or detail.  For example, it’s not mandatory that your collar has visible stitching on it, however you can add that as a design detail.  You can even request that your tailor use a contrasting color to give your shirt that extra bit of personalization.


#4 The Yoke: Most shirts bought off the rack do not feature a split yoke (that is, there is no seam down the middle of it).  However, everybody has a different natural slope to their shoulders and, if you’re getting a shirt custom made, it is a great opportunity for you to make sure it fits the natural slope of your shoulders, so that you achieve maximum comfort; this is achieved through the use of a split yoke.  Alternatively, you can also ask for a pleated yoke, which will allow you greater flexibility in moving your shoulders.


#5 The Shoulders: You can decide if you prefer a flat sleevehead or a pleated sleevehead, which the Italians call “spalla con grinze” (see above).  A pleated sleevehead does, indeed, require more work from your tailor and should be more costly.  Whether you like a flat or pleated sleevehead is entirely up to you, but it can be a nice design detail to consider when getting your shirt tailored.


#6 Pattern Matching: Particularly when it comes to striped shirts, the hallmark of a good tailor is one that takes the time to match the lines on your shirt as best possible.  This does take extra time on the part of your tailor, but the result is much cleaner and sophisticated.  So, next time you choose a striped shirt, make sure to point this out to your tailor.


#7 Buttons: Many tailors these days simply smack some cheap buttons on to your beautifully tailored shirt.  While the average guy on the street might not have a such a discernible eye, you yourself will notice overtime the wear and tear that a synthetic button is subjected to, as opposed to a quality mother-of-pearl one.  Mother-of-pearl buttons are so strong they have been known to break sewing needles, while synthetic buttons have been known to break in the wash.  If you want a hassle-free, long-living, quality shirt, make sure you request quality mother-of-pearl buttons from your tailor.