November of Dressing Nicely -or- Guys in Chicago Don't Care How They Look

I've recently had the pleasure of meeting (online but soon to be in person) a writer/social media director for Metromix, which is somehow related to RedEye, which is a faction of the Chicago Tribune essentially concerned with cool stuff for younger adults in the city. Ernest Wilkins could tell you better about what he does than I can.

Anyway, he is someone who has an interest in dressing better and wants to bring as many people as possible along for the ride. Much like Will over at Momentum of Failure with his 100 Days of Ties Project, Ernest has launched his own initiative. Enter November of Dressing Nicely (NoDN). The movement was inspired by a visitor to his office:
A guy from LA came into the office a few months back to take some meetings with my bosses. He was the best-dressed dude I've seen in years. I mean, suit was tailored, shirt had a monogram, sick longwing brogues, and a clean shave. The women went bananas. "Who is that guy?" "Is he working here now?" *wolf whistle*. A comment rang out that stuck with me. Upon finding out the gent was from LA, a co-worker stated, "Oh of course, no guy who lives here would look like that."
One of Ernest's #NoDN photos
Disturbed by this comment, Ernest asked his peers about Chicago men and their apparent disregard for dressing well. The general consensus was that "Guys in Chicago don't care how they look". Hell bent on being the exception rather than the rule, Ernest vowed to dress better for at least an entire month beginning November 1st, 2010. He has posted his photo every work day and has invited any one else to do the same. I've been submitting my self-taken photos and it's really encouraged me to avoid falling victim to laziness when I dress myself in the morning. It has already been a very positive exercise.

As I've stated before, my office environment is very casual and it would be easy to slip into a groove where a t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers become a uniform. I now refuse this possibility and try to look good all the time. However, I still lean toward casual dress (I'm not wearing suits to work) so I'm not scaring my coworkers too badly. In fact, I'm probably wearing jeans more often than not. Even so, the ignorant will still assume I have a job interview if I'm wearing a coat and tie as well. Anyway, it is interesting to see the photos submitted by the others who participate (there's a loyal community of maybe 6 people) because of the range in level of formality and perspective on what "dressing nicely" is to them.

I see NoDN as a continuation of the Tie Tuesdays I've observed since last fall. It serves as a reminder to take extra care in laying out an outfit that I know will look good. I'm not sure how many of you follow my Tumblr but I've been posting most of the photos I submit there along side the ones that end up on the NoDN Gallery that Ernest has set up. Below are some of my better submissions (please excuse myself looking like a complete ass in most of these, it's just the way I am).

If you're a Chicagoan trying to get in on the action, e-mail Ernest with your photo attached and he should post it right up. Prove to the land that you care about what you look like!



Shirts Bigger Than Your Jackets

Allow me to preface this with saying that I am primarily an online shopper. I mostly hate going to brick and mortar places for a number of reasons I will not explain here. I'm usually pretty good at judging sizes based upon vendor-supplied size charts on websites and have generally been very successful in getting my size right while buying online. 

While discussion around these parts seems to settle on pants most of the time, inconsistencies in shirt sizing aggravate me as well. The rest of this rant data-driven study explores just one example of the root cause of this aggravation.

As far as sport shirts in the realm of an everyday essential, I could not stop hearing about how great Brooks Brothers was (most notably the extra slim fit). Sport shirting at Brooks Brothers comes in standard, nonspecific sizing (S, M, L, XL, etc.). Consulting the size chart on the site (scroll down to MEN’S SIZE TRANSLATION CHART) and you'll see that the large (L) would be best for someone between a 42 and 44 inch chest and 35" sleeve. This is nearly perfectly describes my sizing. But ah yes, the cut of the shirt...how is that? Directly above that size translation chart, you'll see a description of all the cuts offered at Brooks Brothers. I've transposed them below (I've omitted the Luxury Fit because it is the same as the Traditional Fit only available in longer sleeve and body lengths).
  • Traditional Fit
    •  Our fullest cut sport shirt
  •  Slim Fit
    •  Measures 3” slimmer through the chest, 5” slimmer through the waist and 2” slimmer through the seat than our Traditional Fit Sport Shirt.
  •  Extra Slim Fit
    • Measures 2" slimmer through the chest, 2" slimmer through the waist and 3" slimmer through the seat than our Slim Fit Sport Shirt. Higher arm holes and narrower sleeves complement the trimmer silhouette.

So it would stand to reason that the Extra Slim is 5" slimmer through the chest, 7" slimmer through the waist, and 5" slimmer through the seat than the Traditional Fit (simple addition of SF to ESF reductions). Now, I'm not exactly a slim guy but I'm not cut like an action figure either. I was actually debating originally between the Slim Fit in large and the Extra Slim Fit in large. One of the reasons for this debate was that I saw a friend who had one of these very shirts (Brooks Brothers Extra Slim). He had one in medium and he reported to me that it was very trim through the chest and that he probably should have gotten the Slim Fit in medium on account of him having an unusually large chest for his height (shorter than me). So using this information and the information on the Brooks Brothers site, I ordered an Extra Slim Fit oxford cloth buttondown in large.

Upon receiving the shirt, I was disappointed to say the least. Not because it was too slim through the torso but because it was way, way too full. I'll let the measurements do the talking. I took measurements of the chest pit-to-pit, the waist where it would tuck into pants, and the largest part of the sleeve, pit to outer shoulder.
A: Chest : 23.5"
B: Waist : 22.5"
C: Sleeve: 9.5"

At least for me, wearing this shirt has resulted in considerably annoying bunching around the waist while tucked in and sail-like excess through the sleeves. I never realized just how large it was until I threw a Levi's trucker jacket (size large) over it. This is actually what prompted me to measure the shirt in the first place. For reference, I've included the same measurements for the jacket as well.
A: Chest : 22.5"
B: Waist : 21.5"
C: Sleeve: 8.5"

Thus, the "Extra Slim" shirt (compared to the Levi's jacket) is 2" larger through the chest, 2" larger through the waist, and 2" larger in the sleeves! This shirt is larger than an article of outerwear of the same tagged size! I understand that different brands have different guidelines and that you can't assume that a large is a large is a large, always. Having said that, why on earth is this shirt described as extra slim? It's not even slim by conventional standards. Also, the minuscule collar with rear button that prevents all but the slimmest ties from fitting through is some kind of sick punctuation mark on this bloated, adverb-laden sentence of a shirt.

I am aware that Brooks Brothers is a traditional brand with generally traditional (see: full) sizing. But when heard repeatedly from young people on the Internet championing "BB-ESF" as the gold standard for off the rack sport shirting, I figured that Brooks was trying to target a wider demographic and hey, better for everyone, right?

What is the explanation for my dissatisfaction with this shirt? Is it just me? Do I just have unreasonable standards compared to those of my peers? Did I read the size chart wrong? Is there something wrong with the Large pattern at Brooks Brothers? Did my shirt get tagged wrong at the factory? Either way, this shirt fitting me properly will require it to be entirely recut through the side seam.