Buying shirts online

As I’ve noted in the past, I no longer wear ties to work, and have a range of different shirts.

Apart from regularly stocking up with Van Heusen and Gloweave shirts when the sales are on, I’ve been trying out Charles Tyrwhitt shirts — you know, the online shirt company that at one stage seemed to be placing endless ads in newspapers.

Some observations on Tyrwhitt shirts:

The orders have come through within about a week. Be aware that once you order from them, you will receive a truly incredible amount of advertising in the mail from them.

The quality seems quite nice. The 40/41 neck, regular sleeve length, slim fit seems to fit me well. They also do an extra slim version which I suspect wouldn’t sit on my slightly pudgy body so well. Classic fit is also okay, but I prefer the slim fit.

Charles Tyrwhitt shirt label

Despite proudly boasting their Britishness on all their literature, and pointing out items in the catalogues that are made in the UK, none of the shirts I’ve bought from them have clearly stated where they are made on the packaging or labels.

And despite appearing at first glance to be steeped in the tailoring tradition of Jermyn Street, London, they have only been around since 1986. Mind you, that’s still almost thirty years.

My most recent order was made when I probably wasn’t paying enough attention — I accidentally bought two of the identical white with blue stripes design. Whoops, But given Karl Stefanovic’s little experiment wearing the same suit on TV for a year, which went unnoticed, I doubt it’ll be a problem.

It appears that Tyrwhitt takes the Kathmandu approach to specials, but moreso. Basically nobody in their right mind would pay full price if they can possibly avoid it. Shirts evidently go on sale at full price for a while, then are heavily discounted down to a more “real” price, which most people end up paying. As Wikipedia notes: Tyrwhitt uses a high MSRP, high discount model (also called high-low pricing).

That said, the strategy has me sucked in. I’m happy to pay $35-40 for a good shirt. You could pay a lot more, though I suspect you’d get better quality.

I’d be more reluctant buying other items such as suits and shoes from them, given sizing issues, though I have bought a few pairs of shoes from Florsheim online, as they seem to be pretty consistent in their sizing (and I hate shoe shopping).

But I’ve been happy with the shirts I’ve ordered from Tyrwhitt, and will keep using them.

Update: As Philip says in the comments, once you’ve bought shirts from Tyrwhitt, you’ll be bombarded with catalogues in the mail (and email). Today I had something different — an unmarked envelope from James Way, Milton Keynes (UK), which turned out to be them again, with a $20 voucher for my next purchase.

Waterproof jackets

My old Snowgum waterproof jacket, which I got about ten years ago, is finally wearing out — self-destructing from the inside, a little like the Snowgum stores themselves.

It’s been so handy that I want something similar to replace it: reasonably lightweight (but not flimsy and featherweight) but waterproof (not just water-resistant), that can be packed down easily to carry in a bag. And I’m prepared to invest in something tough and durable.

It’s sale season, so I’ve been exploring the cluster of outdoor shops around Little Bourke Street.

Kathmandu’s prices at sale time go down to something reasonable (why would you buy when they’re not on sale?) — and they have a few options in the $100-150 range, but I can’t help think the linings on them look just a little flimsy.

Macpac has a few different coats, but their lightweight one (“Dispatch”) seems a little too small and lightweight, and the heavier ones (“Endeavour” and “Copland“) seem a little too heavier than my old jacket — not easily foldable, for instance. They’re a bit more expensive ($229+) but they do look very sturdy.

Nothing in the Paddy Palin shop leapt out at me. I haven’t looked properly in Mountain Designs yet, though there are some in the current catalogue and online that look okay — but unlike shoes (which I’m now happily buying online, in part because I hate shoe shopping with a passion) I’m finding I really need to see coats in person, particularly to see what kind of weight they are.

I’m not looking for a fully-blown stockman’s coat, but Drizabone also has a few options. At first I thought the Darby might be good (despite being described as a “traditional styled anorak” — hello gunzels!), as it looks like the right weight, but I looked at them in David Jones, and they’ve got a peculiar cord-type thing that goes under the arm. I think it’d bug me. Perhaps I should try one of the smaller oilskin jackets?

Any other ideas, preferably in the CBD?

Postscript Sunday 29/6/2014: I eventually got past Snowgum and Kathmandu in Moorabbin, near home. The latter had a jacket I hadn’t encountered at the city Kathmandu — the Andulo — it’s perhaps not the most perfect jacket ever, but given I really need to replace the old one, it’ll do the job for now.

No more tie

This week I stopped wearing a tie to work.

I’ve moved to a new office, where the norm is no ties. I could wear one, but would stick out. So effectively it’s the new uniform.

As I noted last year, when I started working in 1993, pretty much every male white-collar worker wore a tie. Not any more — particularly not in IT.

In some ways I’ll miss them. And it might be time to buy some more coloured shirts… I think white shirts (worn without a jacket during the summer) look odd without a tie.

And I’ll probably miss it when doing TV media. Would it be cheating to keep one in the drawer at work for that?


I have a love-hate relationship with ties.

When I started my working life in 1993, almost all white-collar male workers wore ties. Over the years this has dropped somewhat, and I’d hazard a guess that perhaps around 30% now do so.

I still wear a tie. I switched a few years ago to a Windsor Knot, and this is what I’ve taught my kids to use now they wear ties in high school. Apparently some of the other boys don’t know how to tie them at all, and just leave them tied up all the time. (The girls wear them only in winter.)

Ties can add some colour to an otherwise dull shirt and suit. And when chosen and presented well, can look really good. I think they can give one an air of authority. Such as on TV!

On the other hand they are fiddly, and I don’t find them particularly comfortable to wear.

Ties apparently originated in the 1600s. I wonder if they’ll eventually disappear from common use.

Clear the credit cards for action!

Do I walk a bit funny or something? The heels of the two pairs of shoes I most commonly wear (the Monday to Friday work shoes) are wearing away on the outside edges. Further, one pair is re-developing the same hole which I thought was comprehensively eliminated a year ago. And in the same position of the same shoe. Strange, since the repair bloke fully redeemed it and gave it an entirely new soul.

Since the end of financial year stocktake sales started yesterday, maybe it’s time to go on a shopping spree. Stock up on the stuff I need now at sale prices, rather than later at full price. Off the top of my head, I could do with buying:

  • New pair of work shoes and a new pair of runners, which are also aging. I’m a shocking shoe shopper, racked with indecision. For the love of God, if you know me, don’t volunteer to come along.
  • Something in the casual winter wear department. Maybe a nice shirt and a jumper or two — I’m not quite as bad at clothes shopping as I am at shoe shopping.
  • Perhaps some new work shirts, as some of my old ones will start to self-destruct before too long.Tick
  • A couple of nice new ties. Certainly at least one to replace the nice blue tie I had that got splattered with something very messy (but very delicious) one dinnertime, and I foolishly thought I could try and clean myself, thus avoiding drycleaning. Nuh uh. In fact the eventual dryclean got rid of the original stain, leaving signs of my cleaning attempts. Sigh. Don’t even try.Tick
  • A dressing-gown, for use in preventing freezing my arse off when moving around the house after getting up. My existing gown is unfortunately deficient in this respect, as it has developed a hole in precisely that location. Apart from the temperature factor, not very dignified when going out onto the driveway to get the newspaper.Tick
  • Perhaps look out for something in advance for the kids for their July allotted XBox game.
  • I’m not totally against the idea of, at some stage, obtaining a frying pan which has a matching lid, rather than a mismatched one from a different, long since disposed of, pan.
  • My cordless phone has gone ga-ga, so it’s probably time for a replacement, so I am no longer tethered to the kitchen counter to make untimed phone calls.Tick
  • Might be time to pick up a drill too, for those occasional… uhhh… drilling forays. And lazy screwdrivering.
  • Need a new couch, but will probably wait until I get into a new house. Umm. Whenever that happens.

Yesterday I ventured into Myer briefly, and fought through the crowds to obtain (at 25% off) the XBox game Halo for a bit of grown up MA blast-the-shit-out-of-aliens action. It got incredibly good reviews: the all-time highest rated game on Metacritic. Had a quick go of it last night, and it appears to live up to the hype. More on that later.

I left the rest of the merchandise in Myer and DJs to the hardcore nutter shoppers. But when I have time in the next day or two, further bargain-hunting will commence.