Perennials: Shirts

Perennials: Shirts

 

Even though you likely wear one most days, the humble shirt rarely gets the recognition it deserves. Not as exciting as tailoring, not as expressive as knitwear, and not as purely decorative as a necktie, the shirt’s predestined role is to tastefully disappear into an outfit. It’s unlikely to be the thing that draws the eye, garners compliments, or makes a statement of any kind. And yet, they’re inarguably the cornerstone of most men’s wardrobes.

The moments in which we most appreciate the importance of a good shirt are perhaps those when we are confronted with a bad shirt. From time to time, we’ve all come across such shirts – the fit not quite right, or the collar too small; the placket too narrow, or the cloth a displeasing texture. It’s then that we realise there is more to the shirt than meets the eye.

Shirts are deceptively complex. Unlike the intricate structure of a tailored jacket, or the meticulous design of an overcoat, a shirt can seem like a yard or two of cloth, and a handful of buttons. How hard could it be to make a good shirt? Well, quite hard, as it happens (the same reason why good shirts can sometimes be hard to find). When we acquired our very own shirt factory in 2013, it took us a while develop our first shirt. There are far more considerations than you might think (once you’ve seen the trial and error that goes into shaping a shirt collar, you’ll never take for granted a good collar roll ever again). But – to cut a long story short – we got there in the end, and we’re now extremely proud to offer shirts that we feel are difficult to improve upon.

What goes into a good shirt?

 A handful of our most classic styles have been enshrined in our newly launched Perennials collection – 'here today, here tomorrow' – and as such will always be available. Perhaps foremost amongst these is the oxford cloth button-down shirt (or ‘OCBD’, if you wish). It was one of the first styles we produced, and remains far and away our most popular shirt (among customers and staff alike). Since the early 20th century, the oxford shirt (or ‘polo shirt’, as it was known then – not to be confused with the modern iteration) has been a near ubiquitous piece of menswear, perhaps reaching the peak of its popularity in the midcentury heyday of ivy style. The problem was that by the dawn of the 21st century, the oxford cloth button-down shirt had become a shadow of its former self. Gone were the elegant, rolling collars, heavyweight fabrics and real mother of pearl buttons that typified those commonly seen in the ‘50s and ‘60s. These had been replaced by diminutive collars with fused linings, plastic buttons, and ‘non-iron’ fabrics. Of course, you could still hunt down vintage examples, but locating the genuine article was sometimes like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack, and as a renewed interest in ivy style blossomed, prices soared.

This was a problem we sought to address with our first shirts. Our button-downs follow the tried and tested formula of the OCBD golden age, albeit with a slightly more contemporary fit (genuine midcentury versions very much erred on the blousy side). We opted for a hearty oxford cloth woven the old-fashioned way, with plenty of texture and character. The collar points are elongated to achieve that much sought-after roll, and the collar itself has a brushed, floating interlining (as do the cuffs). The buttons are genuine Australian mother of pearl, and the fit has been meticulously refined to create a classic silhouette.

 

Why buy a Drake’s shirt?

All of this hard work happens in our aforementioned factory in Chard, Somerset, and the resulting level of quality is visible not just in our button-down oxford shirts, but in all our many styles: our chambray shirts, denim shirts, linen shirts – you name it. Many of our highly talented shirtmakers have decades of experience in the business, and that’s all there in the finished product. Against the backdrop of our ailing native textile industry here in the UK, we are proud to be making shirts on single-needle machines in the heart of Somerset.

The shirts you can purchase from us today will no doubt remain in your regular rotation for many years to come. A Drake’s shirt is perhaps the item that best sums up the ethos of our Perennials collection – it’s expertly made, understated, and enduring in its quiet stylishness.

How to style a Drake’s shirt.

It might be obvious, but the simpler a garment is, the more adaptable it is to different situations. Our pale blue oxford-cloth button-down shirt, for example, can be worn with tailored flannel trousers and a jacket, or jeans and a shawl collar cardigan. Equally it works a treat with cords and a chore jacket, or in summer with just a pair of shorts and some suede loafers. Shirts such as this are so versatile, it’s almost impossible to pair them with the wrong thing. In our recent collaborative campaign with New York’s Aimé Leon Dore, our shirts were styled with terry cotton sweatpants, and why not? The beauty of investing in timeless, quality garments is that getting dressed in the morning becomes that much easier. When all of your clothes work in harmony, then every outfit is an effortless success, every ensemble a perfectly balanced combination of proportions, textures and colour. Our Perennials collection is – in a sense – our version of an ideal wardrobe. Of course, everyone should also have those more unusual pieces which might not see daily wear but nevertheless elicit joy (otherwise what fun is there?), but first you must lay the groundwork.

Whether you’re short on shirts or have an entire wardrobe overflowing with them, one from our Perennials collection will make a fine addition, and will no doubt earn its place among your favourite shirts – one you can wear to the office, to the pub, to a wedding, or just for lounging around at home.

 

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