Editor’s Note: There were some questions about sleeve length and measurement here. For a guide on how to measure shirts and convert between European and American measuring, Mr. Bresnard published this piece. From his email response to me this morning: “I have noticed that Americans measure sleeves differently than Europeans. We measure from the top of the sleeve not from the middle of the yoke.”
The Victor Besnard WOCBD, which you can buy here, is not your every day WOCBD. And by that I mean, you wouldn’t wear one every day. Every detail is distinctive, the fabric is remarkable, (the buttons are Australian mother-of-pearl) and it is too punched up to go with khakis. Jeans, definitely. But you should own one.
If for no other reason than its arrival. Besnard and his shirts are in Italy which comes as zero surprise when the shirt arrives. There is absolutely nothing mass market about the shirt. I don’t know if you have ever climbed into a new Bentley. I have. It wasn’t mine. But if you have not, when this shirt arrives to you, you no longer need to climb into a new Bentley. Getting this shirt is the same thing.
Here’s the box (on my dining room table with a Nantucket puzzle – Gramercy and I had a snow day so we did a puzzle and now it is a centerpiece).
There’s a card.
And the shirt is wrapped with a label. 80% of the Christmas presents I get from my family are not presented like this.
On to the shirt itself. It presents as what it is: the product of design from a designer who draws with a pen rather than a stylus which is handed off to a sewist (that’s a word, decidedly not an old school European word, but it is a word meant to combine artist and sewer) rather than a factory. In fact, the collar, armholes, button attachment, and gussets are all hand made. Oh, here. (What is a gusset? A gusset is a diamond shaped or triangular piece of fabric that you sew into a garment in order to ease the movement of the arm or other body part. – from Fabrikated.com) The buttons are Australian mother-of-pearl, as I already noted.
Oh, here. (The Australian mother of pearl, also named MOP, is derived from a shell (Pinctada Maxima) harvested and bred in the pristine water of Australia. It is bred for pearl production but the same shell is very appreciated for its iridescence mother of pearl that is used for manufacturing high quality buttons.)
For all the European Tailor ambiance here, Besnard knows his Ivy WOCBD. First, he gets the roll right.
A word about how the shirt feels. Dry cleaning is an unfortunate equalizer in that it can make a lower quality shirt feel like it’s superior counterpart. Dry cleaning does not impact this shirt, the fabric and heft of stitching feel like opulence and not light starch.
My biggest question when I opened the shirt was the spread and length of the collar. In writing with Mr. Besnard, and you can see his answers in the article I wrote about him a few days ago, I came to learn that both are the result of an appreciate and study of American traditional design. Which sounds good, but how does it look with a tie? Here:
And with a jacket?
This kind of formal structure does not lend itself as well, in my opinion, to a bow tie.
Mr. Besnard mentioned the special cuffs on this shirt, and I wanted to show them to you as well. Far from a specious detail, the cuff actually brings with it an even stronger sense-of-Astaire (you GOTTA read the other article). Here:
When you buy a shirt from Mr. Besnard, you are entering into a relationship with its creator. I can tell you, if you want to talk more about the extra lengths he went to to create this special shirt, you can get him directly.
Finally, what it looks like untucked.
In summary. You have the nicer car you drive on weekends. This is that. It does not have the same sensibilities as the WOCBD you wore with a blazer that your partner then uses as a cover up at the beach. This is a dress shirt, meant not to showcase a tie or something else, but to stand on its own. Nothing went ignored or mass produced here. And you should treat yourself. Absolutely.