New Michael Spencer Video Shows How Traditional Buttondowns Are Made

Ever seen an unlined oxford-cloth buttondown actually being made? Probably not, but you can now.

Michael Spencer has just released a video that examines its three shirt collar options: unlined, lined but not fused, and finally lined and fused. While purists like the comfort and nonchalance of unlined buttondowns, lining and fusing is often best for finer fabrics and dressier shirts.

Let’s have a look:

“The genesis of the video was the result of frequent requests to explain the difference between a lined and an unlined oxford-cloth collar,” says company founder Spencer Bennett. “With the advent of our new website, we added many other types of fabrics, and with that came our third lining option, the standard fused lining.

“I tried to view the topic of collar linings from a customer’s perspective,” he continues. “I readily saw how it could be a source of confusion. My first thought was to try to do a series of still photos to illustrate the difference, hoping that a picture would indeed be worth a thousand words. Eventually that lead to the idea of the video.”

A family friend who works as a professional videographer made the three-and-a-half minute clip, and narration was provided by Bennett’s uncle Larson, who does professional voice-over work.

As mentioned above, Michael Spencer has recently redesigned its website, so have a look if you haven’t visited lately. — CC

29 Comments on "New Michael Spencer Video Shows How Traditional Buttondowns Are Made"

  1. “You do have moves, right? …. Yeah … “

  2. MacMcConnell | March 3, 2017 at 4:42 pm |

    Thanks for that.

  3. Mitchell S. | March 3, 2017 at 5:48 pm |

    Thanks for the video, Mr. C.

    I heard a rumor that a secret process give Brooks Brothers OCBDs their unique collar roll. Supposedly a thin needle is inserted into the edge of the collar during the manufacturing of polo collars that gives BB shirts their distinctive bell shaped roll. Other manufacturers have tried to copy the process, but to no avail. I have no idea whether the rumor is true or just an urban legend.

  4. Woofboxer | March 3, 2017 at 6:21 pm |

    Very informative, I’ve always been a bit foggy about the different types of collar construction – now I know, cheers!

  5. How do those seamstresses get a straight line just like . . . that! If I tried to do the same thing it would look like the proverbial dog’s hind leg.

  6. Don’t Brooks and M-S use the same factory, or am I mistaken?

  7. Philly Trad | March 4, 2017 at 12:28 am |

    And then there are those of us who prefer an OCBD collar that is both lined and fused because we don’t want to look as if we’ve just rolled out of bed. Of course, we also starch them.

  8. Gibson Gardens | March 4, 2017 at 4:24 am |

    Extremely informative and welcome. Without a doubt Ivy Style is now the foremost (if not the only) Ivy forum on the web.

  9. The Shoo Guy | March 4, 2017 at 5:54 am |

    @Wootpoxer and Gipson Gardins. I agree. Suberp info and deffo troo that this is now thee Ivy wepcite.

  10. Gibson Gardens | March 4, 2017 at 6:48 am |

    Haha. I’ll forgive your spelling Shooguy. You are as right about this as I suspect you are about gunboats and loafers!

  11. @GS

    You’re thinking of Ratio.

  12. George Fencestack Stravine, IV | March 4, 2017 at 8:05 am |

    Good video. I have several OCBDs from Michael Spencer — a repeat customer. The shirts are excellent in every respect and a joy to wear.

  13. Lexophile | March 4, 2017 at 8:51 am |

    Now what we need is a detailed comparison between Mercer and Michael Spencer OCBDs.

  14. KK Mifflin | March 4, 2017 at 8:56 am |

    SFSteve: The sewing machine foot has an extra piece added along the edge. When you’re sewing, you simply run the edge of your fabric along that guide like a bumper. This helps you sew a straight seam every time.

  15. @Christian

    Are the M-S shirts no longer made at the BB Garland factory? It was reported here that they were:

  16. You’re correct. Faulty memory, especially when it comes to the stitches and threads side of things….

  17. So did M-S inadvertently reveal the secret behind Brooks’ collars? Or are they not the same since the Marks and Spencer years?

  18. I think I’ll order a couple. I am impressed with the seamstress skills.

  19. George Fencestack Stravine, IV | March 4, 2017 at 11:40 am |


    Mercer and M-S are more similar than different, and both are excellent shirts. This isn’t meant to be detailed, but gives you a sense of the differences. The oxford cloth may be different, but both seem identical to me. Mercer has six buttons down the front plaquet and M-S has seven. M-S’s buttons are thicker than Mercer’s; Mercer’s are more akin to a mother of pearl thickness (though both standard buttons are plastic and you can order mother of pearl from both at an extra charge). In any event, the Mercer buttons are thinner.

    I would say that the biggest difference between the two is in the cut. Mercer provides a very full cut, very similar to the old Brooks Brothers cut. Even in M-S’s “vintage cut,” the shirt is trimmer than Mercer. You still have ample shirt, just not as ample as Mercer.

    One of the things I really like about M-S is the ability to customize your shirt. You can order: one sleeve longer than the other, split yoke, and box pleat. Also, neck sizes can be ordered by the quarter inch. I think you can probably do the same sort of customizing with Mercer, but you would need to discuss with them.

    Both have different collars available, but since I have only ordered button downs from both I can’t comment on other offerings. In terms of collar and collar roll, both roll wonderfully in the oxford cloth and seem to me to be equal in that regard.

    Mercer has more options with cloth and patterns. M-S has started to add more patterns and cloth types, but Mercer clearly has more selection at this point.

    Again, both are excellent, comfortable shirts. I get compliments wearing both shirts all the time.

  20. Good voiceover.
    The most pleasing tone of voice (there’s data on this) is a raspy baritone. Morgan Freeman’s craggy almost-bass baritone is sufficient to inspire faith in God.
    Call forth your words from the gut.

    I wish the Spencer shirts were a tad less expensive. Ratio uses Garland and they make one hell of a shirt.

  21. Too bad Freeman has kind of over-exploited this quality of his in the work he has taken. It’s become a cliché.

    What is the quality of raspiness and why is it considered pleasing?

  22. Not sure. But it’s a real thing.

    Sam Elliott too.

  23. @George Fencestack Stravine, IV

    Not entirely true. The Mercer&Sons cut is virtually the same as the Micheal Spencer vintage fit, save for an extra 1/2″ on the yoke and 1/4″ at the waist on the former. Both are copies of the Brooks Brothers traditional fit, which is available. Also the notion that these cuts are those of the old days is not correct in my opinion, they were definitely slimmer up until the 80s. Frankly the $17.95 that Mercer charges for shipping is ridiculous.

  24. whiskeydent | March 5, 2017 at 9:46 am |

    Is it more difficult and/or expensive to make an unlined collar? I wouldn’t think so after watching the video.

    Is oxford cloth that needs to be ironed more expensive than oxford that has received extra treatment to make it no-iron? Again, I’d guess not.

    If I’m right on both, why does Brooks charge significantly more for the unlined, must-iron “Oxford” shirt? That also does not even have a pocket?

  25. .weston.pecos. | March 5, 2017 at 10:35 am |

    I have looked at M-S in the recent past and found that one has to pick from “fits” with measurements that the manufacturer has pre-determined. Those do not work for me. I need a larger neck, that is forward oriented, but going with their fits still leaves the rest of the shirt like a tent even if I use the slimmest fits. I looked at the Ratio site just now, played around with the measurements and have found that they, unlike M-S, will let the buyer customize the individual shirt measurements just like Proper Cloth (where I buy my shirts) will let the buyer do. Proper Cloth does have a few more customization available for the buyer to specify compared with Ratio, but both companies would probably work for most buyers. PC lets the buyer rotate the neck forward 0.5 or 1 inch, and I need the 1 inch. Ratio can only rotate it forward 0.5 inch. So for me, Ratio might not work right when I want to wear a tie, which is basically most of the time I put an OCBD on. If you are like me and need a bigger neck than most people who wear a given size/style of OCBD, either Proper Cloth or I suppose Ratio would be good for you. Interestingly, both sell shirts less expensively ($85 for PC and 98 for Ratio) than M-S or Mercer, and certainly less than Gitman which does not permit much customization of measurements at all.

    Also, as someone who started wearing OCBD to school in the 70’s and has been wearing them all along since then, I agree with the commentator who noted above that the “tent shirt” aspect of OCBD (i.e., the roominess) was NOT a traditional feature of the shirt until the later 80’s. Also, it did not matter when most men wore either a suit or a blazer or sport jacket with the shirts. Now that most wearings of OCBD are probably not covered by a jacket of any kind, it is just plain sloppy looking to have a billowing tent around the lower abdomen/waist area of a shirt.

  26. Ratio produces a solid shirt! They have even more collar types available (and Southwick made-to-measure for that matter) if you stop by their showroom. They are pretty much a cheaper, better Brooks with top-notch customer service. Living in Denver, I find it easiest to just schedule an appointment and have them measure me. So far, I have yet to be disappointed.

  27. NaturalShoulder | March 5, 2017 at 5:46 pm |

    I have the same issue as Weston.Pecos. Even with David Mercer’s willingness to go with a smaller body than neck size, I still fit the fit much too voluminous. I did order an M-S shirt with the slim fit option and that was better than Mercer but less than ideal. I know see they offer an extra slim which looks like it may work. Ratio is perfect for me with the customization on fit, but I find I prefer the Mercer and M-S fabric to that of Ratio.

  28. .weston.pecos. | March 6, 2017 at 12:01 am |

    Natural, try Proper Cloth. The shirt material is really very nice.

  29. Somewhat related

    My local BB store is pulling their stock of old new oxfords. They are still available but apparently $140 for a shirt does not appeal to customers even in this affluent area.


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