January 3, 2012

Favorite Finds: Raglan Woven

I have gotten a lot of feedback asking for recommendations on where to find pieces similar to those featured on the blog.  So this new segment of the blog, Favorite Finds, is really about featuring pieces that if you like, you can head to the store and buy them. For this series, I want to highlight pieces that I personally find interesting and currently available in stores to share with you and give you all the details (good and bad) about perceived quality, fit, features, and value.

For the first installment, I went to Bloomingdale’s where things were a little crazy with the after-Xmas sales still going on. I found a few great pieces to feature, but on the way out, this light lilac shirt by Paul Smith Jeans caught my eye. Not only does it have interesting design in the collar and hem, but I have never seen a woven with raglan sleeves.

The tag identified it as a ‘Tailored Fit’ and it certainly is. There are two darts in the back, giving the cut a visible nip at the waist. On the Medium that I tried, the armholes are a little high and tight and the raglan sleeves are not cut on the bias so my mobility was slightly limited when reaching across my body, but not enough to bother me.

The placket and cuffs are stitched on in the opposite grain direction from the body of the shirt (indeed the button placket is stitched down the center with both sides different directions) providing a slightly variant sheen when placed next to each other. The details continue with a rather small button-down collar that is somewhere between a club and point and a hem in the front that is rounded (another thing I rarely see on wovens). One thing that I found particularly interesting is that the buttons are natural mother of pearl that are farmed rather than taken from the sea to minimize resource depletion.

It is a little pricey for a woven, at $215, but I was really into all of the little details that make this shirt unique and loved it so much that I was ready to actually buy it. I make it a habit to check the care instructions before I buy any garment because they can sometimes surprise you. It was when I looked at the care tag that a major problem (at least for me) developed.

This shirt is 100% cotton and is a solid medium-weight cloth that feels like it will wear well and hold up for quite a while. The care instructions say machine wash and do not bleach, tumble dry, or dry clean. Fairly standard, but the inability to dry clean always gives me pause on light colored shirts. I looked at the symbols again to double-check myself and that is when I saw it: “Allow 5% for shrinkage.”

This shirt fit me almost perfectly, but how could I expect to calculate what 5% shrinkage will translate to? I tried a Large and while it fit pretty well in the body and sleeve length, there was an inexplicable amount of extra fabric in the arms from the shoulder to the elbow that was not present on the Medium. It may shrink minimally and still fit great, but there is no way for me to tell.

I still think that this is an amazing shirt, and if you have a bit more room in the body than I did off the rack, I would definitely suggest making the purchase. For me though, at that price point I could not justify taking the risk, but if it is still in stock on clearance later in the season I might be persuaded…

Stay stylish,
- JJ

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