The Millennial Fogey: Introducing Michael Spencer

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While I’ve been told I’m conservative in my dress, I certainly don’t consider myself orthodox. I’ve got darted suits with pleated pants (from J. Press). And this depravity will almost certainly ignite the torches among the trad inquisitors: I’ve been known to wear blue oxford-cloth buttondowns with contrasting white collars. I make no apologies, as they add a pinch of Edwardian dandyism to otherwise stolid outfits.

The opportunity to add to my limited contrast-collar OCBD collection presented itself when Ivy Style connected with Michael Spencer, a new shirt company offering oxford-cloth shirts in many different manifestations, including tab, club, point and buttondown collars.

I’d read an introduction to the company on the blog Put This On, which brought up the point that there are an awful lot of custom shirtmakers on the web. Skepticism being the order of the day, I nevertheless reached out to the company to see if it had any relevance to us here. Turned out a lot of what I found sounds like something that could have come from a non-millennial fogey in our very own comments section.

Michael Bennett, the brand’s founder, grew up wearing traditional menswear. He mentions how when he and his wife were starting out after marriage, they would save up for higher-quality items, such as Alden tassel loafers, to look their best. Would that my lady would chip in on my shell cordovan, but I digress.

Bennett chose his two sons’ middle names as the company moniker when he decided to start making versions of the clothing he remembered from his youth. It’s clear he has a passion for oxford-cloth shirts. “I love the texture,” he told me via email. “I love how it feels when I wear it soft and unpressed, I love the versatility. I decided since it was going to initially be my only shirting that I needed to make it available in as many options as possible.”

And though not overwhelming, options there are. What piqued my interest was the option to have unlined collars, sleeves, and plackets. Is this readily available from other online makers? Sure, but there’s another difference that may interest my fellow millennials, if not my fellow fogeys. You can get a shirt in three different fits: vintage, classic and modern. That’s something that hasn’t always been easy to come across, and for younger gents that want a full collar roll without a full spinnaker around their waist, this is merry news indeed.

I prefer a full-cut shirt, but my heretical notions impelled me to ask for an unlined buttondown with a contrast collar. And to make it a real GTH shirt, I opted for a pink body. I also asked for a front breast flap pocket, a rear button on the collar, and a locker loop. These details don’t make or break a shirt for me, but I wanted to see if they could pull it off. I have plenty of shirts, so frankly if I didn’t love it I was planning on mailing it back and forgoing any type of review, but the shirt is a real beauty. The unlined collar rolls beautifully, thanks to longer collar points. The cloth is soft and heavy, very similar to Brooks Brothers’ OCBD, which is unsurprising as Garland Shirt Company is Michael Spencer’s current manufacturer.

The added details are spot-on and well executed, rather than feeling like vague nods to some “heritage” (I’m looking at you, Gant). Overall, it’s just a great shirt. Purists be warned: it has a seven-button front. Cheapskates be warned: this isn’t a cheap shirt. Comparable in price to Mercer & Sons, with slightly more cost if you opt for mother-of-pearl buttons. The main difference is that slimmer guys can opt for a less-generous fit.

Michael Spencer seems to know and love traditional American menswear. While the company hopes to down the road, it hasn’t yet begun making tweed jackets or penny loafers. But when and if they do, watch out. — DANIEL C. GREENWOOD

22 Comments on "The Millennial Fogey: Introducing Michael Spencer"

  1. The shirts might appeal to Millennials; however, it does them no good if they cannot afford to buy them.

    If I want a slim fit classic OCBD, I will buy it from BB on sale and have it tailored – all for well under Michael Spencer’s price.

  2. Josh Porter | June 26, 2015 at 1:42 pm |

    I also ordered and received a shirt from michaelspencer.us I chose these options:

    Color: Blue
    Collar: St. Andrew’s Club Collar
    Pocket: Standard pocket
    Cuff: 2 7/8” Wide Barrel with 1 Button
    Back: Box Pleats
    Fit: Classic
    Length: Long

    I love the look of the collar. The price is not that bad considering they offer FREE shipping in the continental US.

    I am all about supporting the American Dream of working for yourself and doing what you love for work. MichaelSpencer.us doesn’t disappoint!

  3. It almost sounds like you were paid to say that!

  4. Josh Porter | June 26, 2015 at 2:15 pm |

    Nope. Just found these guys on putthison.com. and really really like the shirt. I want to help out any new business. Especially american made companies

  5. Josh Porter | June 26, 2015 at 2:16 pm |

    They actually posted my pic on their testimonials page.

  6. Ward Wickers | June 26, 2015 at 2:17 pm |

    I especially like Mercer shirts, but am intrigued by Michael-Spencer since there are options available that Mercer doesn’t have (or would charge extra for). The locker loop is one. It reminds me of shirts I wore as an adolescent and the girls at school would pull them off and collect them, which made my mother angry, of course, because I’d come home with rips in my shirts and she would have to sew them, though, at the time, I was fine wearing shirts that were ripped in the back. Sort of a badge of honor, or something like that. That locker loop was the first of many differences my mother had with the women in my life …

    Anyway, I notice there is a split yoke option. Can anyone explain what the split yoke does in a shirt? I looked through my wardrobe and see I have some yokes that are split and some that are not. Truthfully, I haven’t notice any comfort difference when wearing, but I am wondering, is there an advantage to a split yoke?

  7. NaturalShoulder | June 26, 2015 at 5:11 pm |

    DCG – thank you for your review. Like Mr. Wickers, I am a Mercer fan and love the unlined collars and quality of fabric and the fact I am supporting a small business. Even with some adjustments to help with the sizing of the body, I still usually wind up having my tailor take in the Mercer shirt in the body. I may give the Spencer shirt a try with the modern fit option.

  8. Another option is Ratio Clothing. They don’t have it as an official option on their web site, but if you ask, they will do a 3.5 inch collar point that is unlined. Made by Garland and you can customize any measurement. $98

    I will be giving MS a try though.

  9. Bags' Groove | June 26, 2015 at 5:22 pm |

    These shirts will amuse financial wizards in London and New York. Michael Spencer is head of the world’s largest inter-dealer brokers.

  10. I understand that ANYTHING is possible, but after changing from Brooks to Mercer, it would be amazing to wear and OCBD even close to a Mercer. Just an opinion, cannot find a reason to change from Mercer. Guess I am so happy I am rigid and “stuck in a box” with Mercer!

  11. speaking of button down shirts…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gNZorRmSxA

  12. Love real traditional fabric shirts and style.

  13. There is absolutely nothing in the world like a old, worn and un-ironed OCBD. Nothing in the world.

  14. DCG – I commend you for having some fun with your clothing. This is a sign that you enjoy them. Very important. We would love to see some pics!

    I am working on a project that I think you will appreciate based on this post.

  15. NaturalShoulder | June 27, 2015 at 9:09 pm |

    @ S.E. James is certainly the better dressed of the Buckley brothers.

  16. Roy R. Platt | June 28, 2015 at 11:51 am |

    Ward, a split yoke makes an interesting pattern on the back of the shirt if the shirt is made from striped fabric. However, since you can’t see the back of the shirt when you are wearing the shirt and since others can’t see the back of the shirt because you don’t take your jacket off in public, it’s just something that’s there and that only you know about, rather like monogrammed underwear.

  17. To those who have ordered these, what’s the turn around time? I’m considering ordering one, but I’d need it in time for an early October wedding.

  18. Ward Wickers | August 30, 2015 at 1:06 pm |

    Thanks, Roy. that’s what I thought. I have shirts that are single and split yoke from JPress and see no real difference.

  19. Moinsqueparfait | August 30, 2015 at 2:03 pm |

    @RWK
    In the heyday, people avoided jargon like “turnaround time”.

  20. @Moinsqueparfait,

    We should also avoid “price point” like the plague, if we wish to speak in a manner appropriate to our garb.

  21. These shirts are very fine indeed. Those inclined to consider them are also no doubt familiar with the Mercer & Sons offerings. Mercer’s Oxford cloth is more textured, “nubbier,” while the Michael Spencer fabric is finer, silkier (but not scrawnier–the shirts weigh the same). Each has its place. The Michael Spencer shirts are as close to custom made as I’ll ever get (or need): with three fits, sizing to within one-quarter of an inch, and no-extra-cost options including collar, cuff, and pocket styles, split yokes, locker loops, and more, there are no doubt hundreds if not thousands of ways to configure a shirt. Customer service is exemplary–there was a hiccup in the production of my shirt and Mr. Bennett was immediately responsive (the man sent me e-mail near midnight on a Saturday). The shirts offer good value for what you are getting. Many lament the passing of the old Brooks Bros. shirts with unlined collars. I had a few; these are nicer.

  22. A great review. Thank you.

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