Monday, May 13, 2013

Ordering a Custom Shirt

custom shirt

Steve decided he wanted to purchase a shirt from Ratio Clothing, after finding their website and exploring their custom-made suit.  He has written about his experience using the site, and will write a second review in several weeks after the shirt has arrived.

I recently decided to look into buying a new dress shirt for work.  I like my clothes to fit well, more on the slim side, and most of the dress shirts I have collected over the years have been from big name retailers.  While fairly good in price range, these shirts generally lack structure and tend to billow at the waist and arms.  A common problem I have, which I have noticed most other people have as well, is the large amounts of fabric bunching around the waist.  In order to address this issue, I decided that I will now begin putting in a little more work (and likely pay a bit more) for a quality shirt that fits well.

In my search for a quality dress shirt I came across the company Ratio Clothing, a custom dress shirt manufacturer.  I was intrigued by their shirt selection and their unique sizing method.  They use 5  measurements to ensure proper shirt fit.  This is compared to the typical two measurements for retail stores, neck size and arm length.  The reasoning behind Ratio’s method is that more measurements allow for a better fitting shirt, an idea that is simple enough yet not found in major retailers.  In this post I will review the shirt selection and purchasing process, and in a future post I will review the shirt fit and quality.

The Ratio website is set up well and is user-friendly.  The shirt selection process is laid out in the “How To” tab, and and can found by selecting “Getting Started.”  The steps are simple: select a shirt material and pattern, choose the style designs, and enter your measurements.  Each step is explained in more detail by clicking on links in the description.  The explanations were very detailed and I found them to be really helpful.  The fabric selection explanation page goes into detail about weaves and yarns characteristics.  Having no previous knowledge on these topics I found the information to be useful, but I feel that pictures would have been even more helpful to fully understand the textures of the fabrics.  The design guide was helpful as well.  It went into detail about all of the style options including collar type, cuffs, and placket.  If you’re like me and don’t know what a placket is this guide is a good reference.  The pictures in the style guide were very helpful in determining which details I wanted to include in my shirt.  The fitting guide described the five measurements needed: chest, neck, sleeve, shirt length, and fit.  The explanation of the measurements was helpful, containing information on what to do if you fall between sizes or need additional tips.

After reviewing the three steps for selecting a shirt, I began designing one.  The shirt fabric and pattern varieties are impressive.  They have a good selection of ginghams, including red, which I’ve found difficult to find in stores.  There are a few plaid options, a couple oxfords, and several solids and windowpane patterns.  There were 51 patterns to choose from when I bought my shirt with the majority of the patterns were lighter colors.  I am curious to see if they change their patterns according to season, and whether I will see darker patterns in the winter.  The patterns I could choose from were all very bright, and some darker tones would have been good to have as options.  It would have been overwhelming for me to have every pattern in every fabric option, so the limited fabrics for each pattern helped to make the choice easier.

After I chose the pattern and fabric, I moved onto the shirt style options and a computer-generated image of the shirt is shown.  This is a nice feature and helped me visualize the final shirt I had created.  After I input my five measurements, the shirt was ready to be purchased.  I had to create an account, but signing up for the newsletter during the process will allow me to get updates and special offers (always a plus).  The payment process is straightforward, I noticed they offer free shipping in the United States which cut down my purchase price by a few dollars.  The shirt cost $98 in total.  This price is competitive compared to other higher end dress shirts.  While a shirt from Express can cost $60, a BOSS or Canali shirt from Nordstrom can cost upwards of $120.  Considering that the Ratio shirt is a custom fit and quality fabrics are used in construction, I feel the shirts are reasonably priced.

Aside from creating the brand new shirt, Ratio also allows the option to email 9 measurements from a well-fitting shirt you own and they will make one exactly like it.  This is a great option for folks with a shirt they love but would like it in a different pattern.  This option is not advertised strongly on their website but I think it is a great additional feature.

Considering I could have made an error when taking my measurements, Ratio offers a liberal return policy for all customers (with even more benefits for first time customers).  First time customers are allowed to return their first purchase for a full refund, store credit, or alterations within 30 days of the delivery date.  The customer must pay for return shipping but there are no restocking fees.  Returning customers may also return shirts for alterations with no restocking fee, but to get store credit for a returned shirt requires the customer to pay a $35 restocking fee.  This return policy provides peace of mind when buying a shirt knowing that it can be altered for no penalty.

Overall, I was very happy with my design and purchasing experience at Ratio Clothing.  I like their 5 measurement method which will hopefully ensure a nice slim fit for my shirt.  I was pleased with their website, its ease of use, and the information it provided before I purchased their product.  I am looking forward to receiving my shirt in 3-4 weeks and will write a review on it as soon as a get it.

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