A nice stiff…..collar
Bringing things back in line sartorially, we’ll meander back to dress shirts. If custom made shirts are out of your reach, like they are mine, your best bet is going to the men’s department of a local clothing store. The most important information with which to arm yourself with is your shirt size. The best way to find this is to get sized by a professional. I have had great success in both Nordstrom and Macy’s across the country, but as my local mall only has a Macy’s, it’s where I head most often.
I find that it’s all about the confidence you exude; that’s what will help make your shopping experience top notch. Yes, you’ll encounter some homophobic assholes who don’t want to help you, but for the most part, many of these employees work on commission, so it’s in their best interest to treat you very very well.
Usually if you even stand in the department near the shirts, an employee will come over and help you out. When they ask if they can help, say “Yes, I’d like to be sized for a shirt please.” Now, it can get a little uncomfortable because well, they’re usually men, and you’re not, and they get a tape measure and get near to your body and if you REALLY hate this you can do it yourself at home BUT if they do it they will know which shirts they have that should fit you well. You can also sometimes just get away with a sleeve and collar check and move from there.
I don’t really have much going on in the chest department so I mostly gravitate towards fitted shirts that have a slim cut. I quite like the Alfani brand fitted dress shirt. For less expensive fitted shirts I also enjoy the selection at H&M, but you do get what you pay for and these are certainly not as high quality as the Alfani.
If you have a larger chest, then you’re going to require a more regular or fuller shirt – and trust me, the store employees will know which brands to steer you towards for the best fit. When I go the regular fit route I quite enjoy DKNY dress shirts, as well as the offerings at Banana Republic.
With a thinner waist and bigger chest, the challenge is finding something that fits up top but isn’t dress-like on the bottom; if you’re thick at the beltline, the problem is finding something that doesn’t bunch in the arms and chest area to make it fit around your waist. I encourage larger butches to tread cautiously when in big/tall sections of department stores as it can be hard to find something that fits that doesn’t go down to your knees. However, remember your friendly tailor? If you find a shirt that fits right but is too long, either in the body or the sleeve, they CAN take care of it for you.
It may take some time to figure it all out, but once you know your size and what works, you are pretty well-armed to find a shirt that fits right at almost any men’s store in which you find yourself in. It can also be helpful to bring a friend along with you who can help you judge what is working and what isn’t.
As for my favorite, favorite, favorite dress shirt maker? I LOVE Brooks Brothers dress shirts. They are slightly out of range for me for all-the-time wear but I love getting them as gifts, or for the happy days when I find them at my local Goodwill store. I JUST yesterday found out that there is a brand new Brooks Brothers outlet store not terribly far from my house. When I walked by it I pretty much um…well…if I could pop a stiffy over clothes I would have.
The best thing about Brooks Brothers is that their boys shirts fit smaller butches really, really well. So yeah, a little spendy, but you’ll look awesome in them.
As with any growing collection of clothes, start slowly. Figure out what works best for you and begin with neutral colors that are going to mesh with the clothes you already have. A black, grey, and white dress shirt selection can take you a long way as far as versatility goes, and then work in some blues, browns, stripes, etc. If you care for them well, as outlined in the “hot and steamy” post, you should have these in your wardrobe for quite some time, so this doesn’t necessarily have to be an expensive project to get started on.
What shirts fit you the best?