Product Review: Lipson Shirtmakers

As men have lost the suit and sport jacket over the last 20 years or so, the shirt has taken centre stage. In times of old, little imperfections in a shirts fit could be hidden underneath ones suits, sport jacket, or even his sweater. A little billowing in the waist? Not a problem, simply do a military tuck and move the fabric to the back. Sleeves a little long? Simply slide on some armbands (yes, these were a common thing) and hide it under your jacket. It really was a simpler time, when fit was more relaxed and little flaws could be negotiated to be deemed liveable. However, in this modern world and the penchant for many men to want to wear tailored clothes extremely, well, let us say, form-fitting.

Now, ready-to-wear have always been a compromise between fit and cost. The best that could be done was to strike a decent balance between the two. Also, off-the-rack shirts can be tailored (and at John McNabb Clothier we do alter shirts bought at our store, free of charge) brining in the waist a bit, shortening the sleeve length, putting in darts, and so on. These minor alterations work just fine and can significantly change the fit of a shirt making it almost a night and day difference. However, with the off-the-rack option you will always be limited, not only in fit, but also in regards to fabric, collar & cuff choices, and so on. This brings us to Lipson Shirts out of Toronto, Ontario. Yes, yes, another Canadian company, and like the others we have reviewed, this one has a long history and a product that delivers.

I recently had a shirt made for myself to see how well I could get the fit and details. The process is like that of getting any other custom garment from us at John McNabb Clothier, you start by by choosing your fabric. That is the foundation. However, with Lipson, there is a nice twist. Instead of just leafing through small swatch cards, which can be hard to discern and even harder to get a feel and weight for, with Lipson, the fabrics that your shirt will be made out of are actually in store, the whole fabric. This is part of Lipson's Tower program (see photo). This way you really get the feel for your fabric and how it will look when it is made up in to a shirt for you. The fabrics available for the tower program are breathtaking. The source the bulk of their fabric from Spain and Italy. They have lovely broadcloths, substantial oxford cloths, herringbones, checks and stripes, 80 and 120 two-plys and higher, Egyptian Cotton well let us say that there is literally a fabric for every occasion and taste.

Once you have picked your fabric, you will now get your measurements taken by one of us at the store. We take your neck, arm, length measurements and we will also talk to your about how you would like your shirt to fit. Do you prefer a slim, modern fit? Or perhaps a classic fit? Either way, we can suit you. Due to my body shape, I went with what they call the Fashion Fit. This is narrower around the waist and has more tapering in the arms.

Once you have chosen your fabrics and your measurements have been taken, you now move on to the really fun part picking your options. Lipson has a host of collar options, which is really one of the great parts of getting your shirt custom made. Many shirts on the market come with a semi-spread. A great collar to be sure, but something that can get a little played out. Lipson has collars ranging from a small semi-spread to a large English-style cutaway. They also have a very handsome button down that has the right amount of lining and creates a nice roll. For my shirt, I decided to go for a hidden button-down. What I like about the hidden button down is that you get the best of both worlds. The shirt can be worn comfortably with a suit/sport jacket and a tie and not look out of place something that cannot always be said in regards to a regular button down. Conversely, it can be worn tieless without encountering the problem of having your collar flapping around as can be the case when it is not fixed in place. I also chose no breast pocket (you can choose between 2, 1, or none), regular button cuffs (you can also get French Cuffs and Convertible Cuffs), and a subtle monogram on my cuff. Then I simply boxed up the fabric with my measurements and sent it out via FedEx. Within a day or so it will arrive at the Lipson plant in Toronto where they will upack it and get to work. Three weeks later, I had my shirt.

Now, however all the cool features and fabrics in the world would not mean a thing if I did not fit right. So how did it turn out? I think great, but have a look for yourself. I found that the collar was a great choice. The hidden button down, while never a perfect invention, is easy enough to button and unbutton. One gripe I always have with dress shirts is the length of both the shirt itself and the sleeves. The length of the shirt, because a dress shirt should always remain tucked in. The problem is, many shirt makers now save a few pennies by 'short shirting'. With this shirt, the length is perfect. It extends to my posterior and allows it to stay tucked in all day keeping me from constantly re-tucking. The sleeve length is also spot on. I always suggest to customers at the store that you get your sleeves a bit longer. A bit of laundering usually takes out that excess half an inch or so. After wearing the shirt for a month or so, it is holding up well. No loose buttons, no stray threads, it irons wonderfully, and is in regular rotation. I am a happy camper.

I strongly recommend that if you are thinking of getting your shirts custom made, that you at least stop in if you can get here. Our Lipson Custom shirt retail for $225.00 for one, or 3 for $550.00. I must warm you though...those that have got them made up, rarely go back to off-the-rack ;)

Jason Byron Reynolds


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