For the past 30 years I’ve worn a white, round-neck T-shirt all day, pretty much every day of the week, either on its own or under a shirt.
The specific style I’m after channels Marlon Brando and James Dean: a thickish fabric and a high, tight, sharply defined collar, about 1-1.5cm wide, that’s visibly ribbed so I can’t be mistaken for a vicar.
But, surprisingly, it’s not an easy find – even in the US. Young, less portly men either side of the ocean have any number of thin, loose-fitting shirts with narrow collars and lower necks to choose from, but on chaps of my seniority and girth, these look hopeless.
The problem is that every brand I try, whatever the price bracket, the collar loses its shape after a few outings. Fashionable British friends suggested Sunspel, which are wonderful quality, but don’t have the right collar for me. American friends recommended Fruit of the Loom. I bought a pack of three for $5.99 and was encouraged by the sticker promising “the collar keeps its shape”. Mine didn’t. American Apparel in the States came closest with a $20 polycotton-blend shirt called 50/50 which has, unappealing as it sounds, some polyester in the fabric that makes it slightly stretchy. It was, until recently, my top choice, until I discovered a two-year-old Danish brand called Son of a Tailor.
Son of a Tailor T-shirts are made-to-measure and cost €53, delivered free anywhere in the world. The behind-the-scenes operation is also suitably international: the organic cotton is from Greece, the design is done in Denmark, the knitting and tailoring in Poland.
Measuring yourself is made easy(ish) with some clever tools on the website, but it’s best done with another person. And the shirts, when they arrive, are the nearest thing I’ve found to my ideal. The quality is supreme and, yes, the collars – along with the perfect white colour – stay pristine for months, even with repeated washing.
The made-to-measure service means you can be sure that even if you are thickening around the mid-section, you won’t lose length and suffer from T-shirts that are constantly losing contact with your trousers.
Interestingly, Son of a Tailor shirts have the same slight stretch element as the American Apparel 50/50, but in the Danish brand’s case, it’s due to just five per cent elastane, which co-founder Jess Fleischer says helps retain the shape.
Just don’t let the fact that Fleischer’s father was an air-force colonel, not the tailor of the moniker, put you off. He’s a T-shirt wearer, and that will do for me.
For a look at the perfect Alexander Wang T-shirt, go to One man’s quest for the perfect T-shirt reaches fruition.