David Mercer is simply a great, great guy. And has the bona fides:
“Not being a math major, I figure it’s always safer to say I was born in 1946. My Mercer&Sons designs and manufactures shirts and boxer shorts. I was fortunate to enjoy a classical secondary education and studied the liberal arts and law in Boston in the heyday of the Ivy League look in the late ’50s and ’60s. Growing up in New England and Boston and Cambridge, the Ivy League look was a natural. And New England, contrary to the fashion centers of the world, and especially in the ‘50s and 60’s, stressed value and traditional good looks over flash and indulgence. The more classic the look, the better the make, the older the item, the more prized it was.”
So the first thing I will say about the Mercer WOCBD is that it is driven by a guy (and his wife) who GETS IT. And that matters, and you can tell.
“My wife Serena is my partner in our small business. She has a very good sense of style and impeccable taste, myself excluded. My son and daughter love our small business, wear lots of Mercer shirts (a Mercer shirt looks fabulous on women, much more stylish than the tight-fitting women’s blouse which the industry pushes), and each is building his and her own just out of college experiences in Bozeman, Montana.”
This grounding in Ivy is exactly the DNA that reflects an authentic, in fact one of the two (J. Press being the other), authentic WOCBD’s in the series. This is not an interpretation. This is not leveraging a style. This is The. Real. Deal.
It wrinkles in the right places. Once you finish the review, just go buy at least one here. You do not have a full collection without the Mercer, which is the tallest candle in the centerpiece of WOCBD’s .
Everything about this shirt is traditional. The fabric has enough heft to be four seasons, and wears and ages like your ball glove. Stitching, collar size, spread, fit, all the quintessential American White Oxford Cotton Button Down.
First, open collared.
Second, how the shirt presents a tie knot:
One thing about the weave. It is distinctive, it has the feel of made by hand. The texture has that autumn in the commons look, but with a suit, it says I-know-what-the-commons-are. The button placement is classic too – it is very comfortable unbuttoned just at the top. Which is good, because that is all one should unbutton. Ok, I referenced a suit. Here.
The whole bow tie thing is tricky. You have to get the collar just right to support a bow tie, which is the sodium pentothal of a true Ivy OCBD. Everything matters because the line is horizontal instead of vertical. With a bow tie you are not trying to draw attention downward or compensate for an unfortunate waist, with a bow tie the point is two things: the tie and the collar. To that end, no shirt does the bow tie as much justice as the Mercer. Here:
Another thing. I think I have an issue with things around my wrists. My daughter and I wear bracelets of Japanese paper for specific events. I wear a watch to bed. But I roll the sleeves on every shirt I have because it bothers me. I wore the Mercer all day yesterday, and forgot to roll up the sleeves until the very end. It just felt comfortable. Same with the fit. The drape is right down the middle. There is no mistaking, this is a traditionally cut shirt with NONE of that slim nonsense anywhere. On the other hand, it does not hang like it was designed with a T square. It flatters at the same time that it reminds you, there is no difference between this and Yale in ’56.
Here it is untucked.
The shortening of shirt tails amongst WOCBD manufacturers and designers is subversive. At least Untuckit had the stones to say it out loud. We are wearing these things untucked a good deal of the time. The Mercer, as a famous guitarist once told me about my own playing, “wasn’t made for that.” In a very, very good way. The tail does not care about your waist, it is meant to be tucked into good old fashioned whatever and stay right there. Which it does. Still, end of day, this shirt tells the story of a person who, while casual now, certainly wasn’t in down mode this afternoon. Mr. Mercer in an interview said that women look fabulous in this shirt as well, but he didn’t mean it the way I mean this: the only person who will look better in this shirt than you is your partner if they wear it to get up to get a glass of water.
In my next review, I am going to pan, and I mean pan, a shirt. Which is a good place to put that energy, since there is literally nothing negative to say about the Mercer. If you are building an Ivy wardrobe, this MUST be included. Unlike the Besnard or other shirts that are nice accents, this is not an accent. This is the sentence. They are worth every penny you pay for one. These are lifetime garments.
The Mercer shirt is a commitment to perfect American style, to Ivy style in particular, to American manufacturing, to a good American family, and to looking just that much better.