This week on the OCBD blog we have a Michael Spencer OCBD review from occasional commenter Steve. Michael Spencer is an advertiser here, but this post was neither paid for or promised, but comes from the truest place. Steve told me that he is not associated with Michael-Spencer, paid for his own shirt, and that the reason he wanted to review this shirt is to, “preserve an option that works for me so I’d like to see this business survive, and if my comments can help achieve that I’ll have been rewarded.” You can check out the Michael Spencer website here: Michael Spencer
Not all that long ago it was easy to keep a stock of well made, traditionally-styled OCBDs on hand. If one wore out, became irremediably stained, or sustained a catastrophic accident at the laundry, it could readily be replaced. Those days appear to be gone.
Taste is subjective so it’s a matter of opinion whether the changes Brooks Brothers have made to their OCBD, perhaps their single most iconic product, are for better or worse. But changes there have surely been, changes that render the shirt less distinctive and desirable for many men. Nowadays, a man wanting an OCBD made of quality fabric and featuring historically stylish collar points (and, even better, an unlined and unfused collar) must look elsewhere. And pay a premium price into the bargain. One source for for such shirts — with many satisfied customers — features a self-described “generous cut” that unfortunately isn’t for every taste or body type.
That’s where Michael-Spencer, a recently launched enterprise, comes in. M-S offers traditionally-styled Oxford cloth shirts made in North Carolina (by the same factory that makes BB shirts). What makes the M-S shirts different is that they can be customized in a wealth of different ways, none of which incur additional cost. For example, the shirts are available in three different fits ranging from a semi-slim cut to truly copious. Assuming that the chosen fit accurately complements the wearer’s actual physiognomy, none of them can be called “tight.” On a personal note: I am 6’ tall, 165 lbs., size 39, and the “Modern” fit, 15-1/2” x 34” shirts I’ve acquired are comfortable and tailored in appearance but still present an appropriate touch of rumpling. All that’s missing is the wad of excess fabric at the back of my waist that is present in shirts that seem fashioned for huskier builds.
The M-S collars are 100% traditional: they are described on the company’s website as featuring “3-1/2” of cascading cloth,” and that’s perfectly accurate. (Current production BB collar points are 3-1/4” long — down from 3-3/8” just a couple of years ago — and while 1/4” sounds insignificant, in fact it makes a pretty big difference.) The unfused, unlined versions are not just stylish but soft and relaxed as well. Other no-charge options include accoutrements such as locker loops, split yokes, flap pockets, and several cuff configurations. Moreover, hard to fit individuals can select personalized sizing (neck and separate sleeves) in 1/4” increments.
All this comes at a cost, of course. The financial blow is softened somewhat by the fact that shipping is included in the price and no sales tax is incurred. An additional, and not unimportant, bonus is the exemplary customer service that accompanies a purchase. Something about my first order got lost in translation (at the factory): sizing was way off. The problems were personally and expeditiously addressed by Spencer Bennett, owner of the company. If my own experience is any indication, he will spend as much time as needed guiding a customer to the right choices.
It’s not a question of “can,” but rather “would” the world want to go without the traditional OCBDs that have been around for as long as anyone reading this has been buying clothes? Many of the historical makers have given up; it’s nice to see that the baton is being passed, not simply dropped.