The Victor Besnard WOCBD Review

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).

If I even had a tickle of a hoarding inclination, I would have kept the box. As we move on past the pandemic, my hunch is that packaging for some items becomes more important as it is the substitute for walking into a store. With this box, you know you are not in an outlet. In fact, you know there aren’t outlets in the zip code of this box.

 

There’s a card.

Service and quality orientation. With just enough European distinction.

And the shirt is wrapped with a label.  80% of the Christmas presents I get from my family are not presented like this.

As someone who can only wrap sandwiches, the extra effort is appreciated.

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.

Great roll. I was in a conversation with a pastor yesterday, and she asked me, “How do you know you are better?” (from getting sick). I said, “Because I am now comfortable with posting pictures of myself to 28,000 people a day without a filter.” I am rethinking that.

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:

I thought it wasn’t going to work, it does. As I say, this is a dress shirt. In every sense. But it presents the knot of the tie with enough space to make it important without going over that line. You know the line.

 

And with a jacket?

Same thing. Correct proportionality. Enough formality to look just right with a suit, without going over the line. YOU KNOW THE LINE.

This kind of formal structure does not lend itself as well, in my opinion, to a bow tie.

For a bow tie in a less formal application, you want the collar points a little closer together. Of course for black tie you do not.

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:

Right? It looks very appropriate. And I swear I did not have this much gray until my 14 year old daughter started talking to this rapper from Maryland.

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.

If somebody wants to mention how much weight I’ve lost, I will listen.

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.

JB

 

40 Comments on "The Victor Besnard WOCBD Review"

  1. 170 euros and no individual sleeve length?

    I am checking on that. But the 170 euros, as I said, this is not a utilitarian wocbd that comes in clear plastic with black print. It is a dress shirt. – JB

    Got it sorted, please see Editor’s Note at the top. – JB

  2. Frederick J Johnson | March 4, 2022 at 10:43 am | Reply

    shirt appears to be about the same price as Mercer, and if the size chart can be trusted my 16 neck comes with a 26-1/2″ sleeve length? Something must be way off.. Get thee to J Press.

    Yes, EVERYONE should buy a J. Press. This is a different animal. I checked and I read it the same way you do. I have asked for clarification. – JB

    Got it sorted, please see Editor’s Note at the top. – JB

  3. Wow, what a shirt! The details elevate the whole concept. Agreed that this shirt is on the dressier end of the OCBD spectrum. …But isn’t there a photo in the earlier post about Mr. Besnard of him (or of someone) wearing the very same shirt in blue with jeans and loafers? It sure elevates the hell out of those jeans, but I think it works very nicely in that context, too.

    Totally. You need J. Press. You need Mercer. I will argue in a later post that you need Eagle. (I know, hang in with me til you read it) But you SHOULD HAVE one of these. – JB

  4. Thanks for the review. The shirt looks very well made. Sizing is challenging, as Tom notes. That said, great website and will be taking a flyer on a pair of trousers or two as the rise intrigues me.

    Agree, I am getting clarification on that. I will also check out the trousers now that you made note. THANKS! – JB

  5. If they made this shirt in a size 16-1/2-34, I would pull the trigger as I would know the cuff would be positioned properly relative to my sport coat sleeve. The “average” sleeve length doesn’t cut it for me, especially at that price point. I do have to say, it looks beautiful.

    Stand by, I am on it. – JB

    Got it sorted, please see Editor’s Note at the top. – JB

  6. I think some measure sleeve length from the center of the back and some from the top of the shoulder. If you’re a 16, your shoulder-to-shoulder width is likely in the neighborhood of 19 inches. Half of that is 9.5. Add that to 26.5 and you get 36 inches. That’s long for most who wear a 16, but not crazy. A narrower shoulder width would bring it closer to an average sleeve length for a 16.

    As a 16.5 x 33, I have learned this from staring at size charts as I was trying to decide whether to buy a particular sport shirt.

    Of course, I could be completely wrong. It certainly would not be a first. If someone wishes to correct me, they can join me later today at my local.

    I don’t want to correct you but can I join you anyway? -JB

  7. I’m sure the shirt is good but at that price point Carl Goldberg at Cego in NYC can do custom. Not sure if Mr. Goldberg is still flexible on his minimums.

    Same as Mercer. I hear you, it is a ticket. But no minimum, and worth it for one or two. – JB

  8. How are the conical cuffs working with your watch?

    Well! Shoot, I took it off already. I will take a photo next time. THANKS – JB

  9. Charles Dana | March 4, 2022 at 12:57 pm | Reply

    I respectfully disagree with the notion that the Besnard WOCBD wouldn’t go well with khakis. Every OCBD (regardless of color) is inherently casual—or at least a notch or two below dressy. Thus, in my view, any OCBD—white or otherwise—is perfectly appropriate with khakis—and that goes for the Besnard version, meticulously designed and crafted though it may be. (I mean, JB is wearing his Besnard OCBD with jeans, and he presents a fine casual look. So no reason not to bump things up by substituting chinos for the jeans when the mood strikes.)

    You know what? I think you are right and I am wrong. I withdraw and will try it out when the shirt comes back from the cleaners. THANKS – JB

  10. I do not understand measuring sleeves form the shoulder, in that every man’s shoulders are wider than others, slope more than others, etc. How can a sleeve length be determined w/out measuring from the center below the collar? I have this problem with on-line thrifted shirts all the time, when the sellers do not know how to measure sleeves.

    Modern culture has a tendency lately to just go with common usage. A cap is now a hat. A lectern is now a podium. Biz casual is now whatever any one wants it to be. Balderdash. But math always holds up. 2+2 always = 4 And sleeves can only be measured by considering the entire length.

    At least that is how it looks from where I sit with shirt sleeves ordered on ebay an inch too short. 🙂

  11. My $0.02 for what it’s worth,
    WOCBD provides a little more contrast to blue jeans, while BOCBD likewise with Khaki chinos. With olive chinos, I think I would prefer the WOCBD. Both are entirely acceptable, but I prefer a little contrast…usually, but not always. I’ve never cared for BOCBD with a suit.

    That’s so weird, I feel the same way about BOCBD with a suit. Never liked it. Totally agree. And I take your point on contrast too. – JB

  12. Charles Dana | March 4, 2022 at 4:51 pm | Reply

    Hardbopper, you made excellent points about color contrast. I wouldn’t wear a white OCBD with stone chinos, but I certainly would (and do) with British khaki chinos. And a blue OCBD with blue jeans might give me the blues, but not if the jeans are dark blue.

  13. This looks like a fantastic shirt but it’s too bad they don’t offer more specific sleeve lengths. These sleeves are about an inch too long for my collar/chest size. Dealbreaker for sure.

  14. Is it just me or do the collar buttons seem rather large? Nice looking shirt, though. I can only assume it is a must iron cotton. Not sure what my size would be as a guy who fluctuates from a 15.5 to 16 35.

    Wives and sweethearts,

    Will

    Hi Will! The buttons are standard size – I think the mother of pearl gives them a sheen that makes them look bigger in the photo perhaps? – JB

  15. Charles Dana | March 4, 2022 at 6:26 pm | Reply

    sacksuit, I don’t see anything amiss with the collar buttons. Maybe the light reflecting off of them makes them look more prominent than they really are.

  16. Re: white button-down worn with khakis. There is a wonderful movie from the early ‘80s, a Pat Conroy somewhat autobiographical book on the Citadel, turned into a movie, “The Lords of Discipline.” In that film the characters meet on a Charleston front porch and are wearing white OCBDs with khakis. I have worn them ever since.

  17. I just checked their size chart for 16 1/2. The chest measurement is 48″
    shoulder 19:” I mostly wear Hilditch and Key shirts which have 50′ chest
    and 19 1/2 in” shoulder in their “contemporary” (trimmer) model. So, it
    wouldn’t work for me. Note: Mercer has a 54″ chest in 16 1/2 but the
    shoulders are only 19″. Even for a “stocky guy like me that’s enormous.
    I’m going to contact Besnard to see if they could make something in my
    size without going to full bespoke prices.

  18. BTW, that’s a perfect roll.

    Right? Let me know how you make out? – JB

  19. Boston Bream | March 4, 2022 at 9:15 pm | Reply

    WOCBDs do go well with chinos/khakis.
    Also the old wives’ tale about white shirts not looking good on men of certain complexions deserves to be laid to rest.

  20. @Boston Bream, I think you’re right re: certain complexions with white shirts. I went years without ever wearing a white shirt because I believed it would make me look sallow. Then, during a decidedly non-sunny month of the year when I was at my most anemic-looking, a wedding came up in which I had to wear one. Seeing the wedding photos after the fact, I kicked myself for how wrong I was. White OCBDs look good on literally everybody, even me with my Casper-like complexion. …Now, ecru OCBDs? Yellow OCBDs? Those I truly cannot wear without looking like a ghost.

  21. Craig Fulton | March 5, 2022 at 2:59 am | Reply

    @Nevada
    I fully agree with you and Boston Bream in what you said about white shirts.
    I too avoided them because I thought they’d make me look sallow. How wrong I was! Unfortunately, it took me years to make this discovery. I’ve totally given up on blue OCBDs. I only wore them because they were considered to be the basic OCBD color. You’re also right about ecru and yelloe; I would add green to the list. From now on, it’s only white for me.

  22. Old Bostonian | March 5, 2022 at 4:32 am | Reply

    Europeans also measure the length of trousers differently:
    In the U.S. we measure the inseam; in Europe it’s the outer seam (from the bottom of the waistband) that’s measured.

  23. Shoutout to the always reliable JB for not being even remotely knowledgeable enough about the topic to understand that people are complaining about sleeve lengths being one-size-fits-all for each collar size and not complaining that they don’t know how to measure their own sleeve lengths. I’d say this is embarrassing for you but you are probably not even bright enough to know what I’m talking about.

    I’m torn. There is a pattern here, of explaining the obvious to you. It leaves me at a fork in the road. On the one hand, unlike every other reader here, perhaps you don’t have the capacity. In which case this site would certainly frustrate you, what with all the big words. And then you would write silly notes. But what am I supposed to do, delete notes just because you have certain challenges? On the other hand, if I don’t delete them, I am forcing the other people on the site to scroll through your mommy-didn’t-hold-me-compensation-commenting. It’s tough. I suspect it is the former and not the latter. What that means is, I think you can’t read. – JB

  24. Of late, a woman has can designated a “Karen” for petulant, stupid and irrational behavior. However, I don’t think they have come up with a corresponding name for a man who behaves in such a way.

    I think “Kent” would fill the role perfectly.

    I second the motion. – JB

  25. JB,
    Do we really have to be exposed to Kent’s insulting remarks?
    I’m certain that many/most followers of this site had no idea whatsoever about the difference between European and American ways of measuring sleeve lengths, and I thank you, whiskeydent, and Mr. Besnard for clarifying the matter.

    Agreed. On the other hand, I can’t just delete him because he is a tool. It’s a balance. -JB

  26. Theresa in Tucson | March 6, 2022 at 10:32 am | Reply

    The equivalent of “Karen” is “Kevin” at least on Reddit.

  27. Jim Bob Jump Back | March 6, 2022 at 4:17 pm | Reply

    No thanks, prefer J.Press over Mercer. Current J.Press OCBD with flap pocket , no trim fit is the closet facsimile to old B2. Furthermore, prefer the heft of J. Press vs Mercer. No reason to candy up a shirt. Enuff said.

  28. Grown men should be able to dismiss disagreeable people (assholes) without requiring their being silenced/banned. Grow a pair guys.

    Success to crime,

    Will

    On the one hand, sure. On the other hand, it ain’t just men. And on the other hand, why do we have to keep scrolling through the nonsense? I left it up because the shot was more at me than it was at anyone who doesn’t warrant shrapnel. But, I do hear the argument for deleting people who are not having authentic disagreements. – JB

  29. It has already caught on.
    A male karen is a ken. So close enough.
    If the loafer fits…

  30. A male karen is a ken. close enough.
    If the loafer fits…

  31. Craig Fulton | March 7, 2022 at 12:57 pm | Reply

    VEA:
    A bit of grammatical English would be appreciated.
    Instead of: Aside from not liking the tone, what about Kent’s comment was wrong?
    The sentence should have read:
    Aside from not liking the tone, what did you find wrong about Kent’s comment?
    This is not about being a grammar policeman, it’s about respect for the English language and for the readers of comments on this site.

    100% agreed. VEA will not be joining us here anymore (well, he may pop up but it won’t last long) but your comment stands 🙂 – JB

  32. ALL,
    Please feel free to correct my grammar at anytime. I frequent IS not just for the threads, but also for the classical school edification.

    I didn’t prior, but I sort of get the vibe now. And I like it. Of course, web writing is different and one must account for style. But still. I like it. – JB

  33. a couple of uncapitalized proper names…on-topic comments…I would be too, were I using…

  34. There is a dilemma of sorts here– well, not really. Not a big one, I mean. Relatively speaking, small. But still, since this is what we’re here (IS) to discuss.

    It’s this: a button down shirt of oxford cloth should not be fancy, overly tailored, and/or expensive. As recently as the mid-90s, Brooks’ made-in-the-U.S.A. oxfords retailed for $50. Adjusted for inflation, I’m guessing that’s around $90 in 2022 dollars.

    I know, I know: THE PRICE OF EVERYTHING IS INFLATED THESE DAYS. I get it. Really, I do. And since an American made OCBD is hard(er) to come by these days, I get it even– well, even more. Really. I mean, sort of.

    The Mercer & Sons shirt is criminally overpriced, but I’ve bought them. I’ve bought OCBDs made by Individualized, Gambert (all of them, and New England Shirt Co. But only when-and-where a retailer has offered a decent deal (Buy six, get two free).

    The J. Press 3-OCBDs-for-$349 is a decent deal, and still allow J. Press to make a good profit.

    I want the Ivy-is stores to stay in business, but I’m not interested in funding second (summer) homes, grandkids’ college educations, or club memberships. Lots of Ivy retailers quit when it became clear they could no longer make the sort of $ their clients were making–or, if they were lucky, had a brand to sell to Japanese TRADitionalists.

    I like OCBDs. But too much…is, well, just too much. And for this price, it had damned well better be custom.*

    * like, for instance, CEGO

  35. * edit: instead of ‘criminally’ (by which I mean excessively), let’s go with…’very.’

    That said, in the spirit of honesty, I’ve found they last for damned-ever and have remain my go-to for tweed sport jacket days. And, again (to repeat): there’s the really wonderful story and heritage-appreciation and authenticity and all that. You get the idea. If someone ever decided to get creative about odd/country (tweed) jackets in the same way, I’ll rejoice. And be willing to pay the $.

    Also: the Mercer ‘cream’ OCBD is terrific. It’s a softer, mellower white. JB, maybe-just-maybe worthy of a JB/IS review.

    Mercer White OCBD is up in a week, I will ask about the cream. – JB

  36. Oh, by the way–
    here’s the OCBD page at Mercer. Please take a minute to take note of the ‘Cream’ oxford cloth:

    http://www.mercerandsons.com/swatches_and_pricing-oxfords.htm

    The copy reads as follows:

    “Our heavyweight Bulletprooftm two-ply cotton oxford in traditional Off-White so popular in 1950’s and ’60’s on Madison Avenue.”

    That’s clear, clean copy, eh? Now I want to buy like fifteen.

  37. @S.E., Understand where you are coming from, though don’t begrudge anyone the ability to fund second homes, etc. etc. etc. lest someone begrudge my ability to! That said, agree with you that the Press sale is a good QPR though wish they had more slim fit shirts available.

    Mercer is highly priced, and their “custom” isn’t really custom, but fear not – instead of buying 15 of the cream OCBD’s you could by 5 and use the extra material to make the remaining 10.

  38. True.

    Another observation is that the current J. Press OCBD is a close to the old Made-in-Paterson, NJ Brooks ocbd I’ve seen/worn. The 3-for deal is more than fair, and I recall that a few times a year, they offer (even better) 3-for deals.

  39. Upon reflection, I think the better strategy is to ignore the trolls instead of hitting back at them as I did with Kent. Responding merely gives them the validation they crave and an incentive to continue.

    So I will do my best to ignore them. It will be very difficult. This is why gawd invented whiskey, whisky, tequila, vodka, rum, wine, beer and all the others.

    I will do my best to keep them from bothering. Thanks for hanging in. – JB

  40. I, for one, vote for deleting the trolls. That is the optimum ‘no-response response.’ I also vote for the creme Mercer oxford. So much nicer looking than anyone’s ecru or beige, I think. Have looked at it on their site many times, but with two kids at home, just cannot justify $165 for a shirt quite yet, especially when I am sometimes clumsy with my felt tip at work, and my first Mercer shirt – a Christmas gift from the wife – frayed at the cuffs after less than 30 wearings. Nothing against Mercer, it might have been my fault, but still not worth risking. Still looking though, while living off a trove of ebay- sourced, Garland-made Brooks Brothers and a number of ‘cannot wear their skimpy collar with a tie but like their nicely fuller through the chest’ vintage RLPs. Wait, what is the definition of a trove? I might have exaggerated, but I have many. Also like to try some day the Tucker Carlson inspired – please don’t slam him here, I am not writing about his politics – point collar Mercers.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


*