emciosn wrote:This thread has pretty much transformed my wardrobe this summer. Thanks everyone (especially Pufer).
Question: I really try to stick with non-iron shirts because I lack ironing skills and don't get my shirts dry cleaned. A lot of shirts that advertise they are non-wrinkle in fact are not. I was walking through the mall the other day and the Jos A Bank lady told me that their wrinkle free shirts have been voted the best for like three years. Anyone know if the shirts are really very good?
I am not aware of anybody who has ranked wrinkle free shirts each of the last three years. The only thing I can think of is that Consumer Reports has reported that JAB Traveler shirts are among their five recommended wrinkle free shirts in their last three big review books, but I think it's based on only one review back in 2007.
CR basically found that the BB wrinkle frees are no better than the Stafford or LL Bean wrinkle frees, but for double the price. The JAB Traveler were found to be the most wrinkle free of the wrinkle frees (the only one they found that you could leave in the dryer for a while after it finished and not worry about) and comparatively soft and supple, but CR couldn't bring itself to crown the JAB shirts with the win because of the list price.
Various other reviews of wrinkle free shirts come up over time, and you generally find LL Bean, BB, Nordstrom, and the JAB Traveler line amongst the finalists. It's typically between the JAB and Nordstrom shirts for the win.
In my opinion, the LL Bean shirts are better than most other wrinkle frees at their price range, but are nothing to write home about (i.e., they're slightly better in finish quality than what you could get for $10 at Ross/TJ Maxx, but they're quadruple the price).
The BB wrinkle frees probably have the best finish quality and attention to detail of the lot, but they also have the worst-feeling/most brittle cloth of the bunch (a sentiment agreed with by most reviews, who also tend to question the longevity of the BB wrinkle frees, which is something I can't speak to). As such, I feel that they're wildly overpriced, and most reviews agree.
There is nothing at all wrong with Nordstrom wrinkle frees. Issue is that they're a bit on the pricey side and (this most recent sale notwithstanding) rarely go on sale. Their wrinkle free line is also fairly limited in color/cut/style choices, but the basics are definitely there.
The JAB Traveler line (there's also a Signature line of wrinkle frees that aren't worth the price) is every bit as good as the Nordstrom line (and at least a couple reviews give the JAB line the edge on longevity), except that you can get a Traveler shirt in any color of the rainbow, with any style that JAB makes. Going back to the CR review, the issue is, again, the list price.
Of course, it's JAB. You could pay $75 for a JAB Traveler shirt, or you could just wait a couple weeks for them to dip below $50. At the sale prices, JAB Traveler shirts are by far the best choice amongst the common wrinkle free shirts. That said, I wouldn't make a blanket endorsement of them.
The issue with the JAB Traveler shirts is that they are cut like all other JAB shirts. The regular fit is among the hugest of the huge. The "tailored fit" is all but necessary for anyone under double their ideal weight, but still won't be mistaken for a slim fit shirt. If you're average-sized to fat, JAB is definitely the way to go. If you trend towards rail-thin, the Nordstrom line will have more for you, albeit at a higher price.
As to Banana Republic, regardless of how great the fabric may be, you shouldn't buy a dress shirt sized simply "XL." Banana Republic's sleeve lengths are too long at every size (the average sized guy, regardless of girth, has a sleeve length somewhere around 33 or 34; an XL shirt from Banana has 35.5 inch sleeves, quite possibly 2-2.5 inches too long
for the average American (and the average American does wear size XL) who would buy one - if he wore size small, however, the average height guy would have perfect sleeves). Banana has some nice stuff (although I think their ties have fallen off these last couple seasons), but I'm not sure that it's really the place to go for professional garb.
The traditional case against wrinkle frees is that (1) they don't breathe, (2) they are short-lived, and (3) a few wrinkles shows off the quality of your shirt. As to 1, that may still be true with whatever wrinkle frees they sell at Sears or something, but most quality wrinkle free shirts breathe as well as any other three-season shirt nowadays. It might still matter if you regularly deal with 100% humidity during the summer, but, if you're wearing a suit anyway, the breathability of your shirt probably isn't what you'll be worrying about.
As to 2, yeah, they're not as long-lived as regular cotton shirts. You'll only be able to wear your wrinkle free every couple weeks for the next three years instead of four. This is not something I would worry too much about, especially if you're like me and don't wear shirts for their full usable lives to begin with.
As to 3, even I'm
not going to notice that shit, and nobody else will either. Further, the average person on the street will think less of you if you have a few wrinkles to show off that you're not common enough to own a wrinkle-free shirt, as most folks figure that you shouldn't be wrinkled.
My own thing is that wrinkle free doesn't really mean iron free. You can totally get away without ironing a wrinkle free shirt, but I just think they look better when they are ironed/pressed (i.e., everyday use is fine without ironing, but I'd get that shirt professionally pressed for an interview/trial, even if it is wrinkle free - no starch). For me, the benefit of a wrinkle free shirt (and about half of my shirts are wrinkle free) is that it doesn't wrinkle during the day
, not during a wash. Thus, if you want to take off your suit jacket at 2 PM to be more comfy while you take care of some brief writing at your desk, your shirt still looks totally fresh and acceptable should the boss walk in with that new client. Big plus in my opinion, without too many tradeoffs in this day and age.