Non-iron dress shirts can be a tricky purchase – buy wrong and it will never pass off as a quality item at that important moment. But some brands have nailed this hardy travelling essential. Here are the best brands:
When there’s a big event looming – that wedding speech in Tuscany or business lunch in Paris – the last thing you want to be lugging through an airport is an iron. Thankfully iron-free dress shirts have made travelling to important occasions a lot less stressful – all of us have had that heart-sinking moment when a shirt comes out of a bag more wrinkled than a prize-winning shar-pei. Using different techniques, some just wrinkle-resistant polyester, others treated 100% cotton, manufacturers have mastered the art of ready-to-wear evening shirts. This means that whether it’s emerging from a hair-raising car chase and walk into the casino, just like Bond, or just having one less thing to worry about as Best Man, they save the day in style. Here are five of the Best Brands for Non-Iron Dress Shirts:
Brooks Brothers might seem like a very modern brand, managing to get one of its smart-looking stores onto most city high streets, but it’s actually the oldest apparel brand in continuous operation in the United States. It even claims Abraham Lincoln was one of its customers and someone as busy as a US President would certainly appreciate a shirt that doesn’t need ironing. Among the Brooks Brothers non-iron dress shirts are stretch broadcloth items, woven from a blend of spandex and American-grown Supima cotton, and clean-lined, minimalist cotton garments that also don’t need pressing. Despite it being an established and common sight on American sidewalks, Brooks Brothers doesn’t have high street prices though, so expect to pay premium money for that premium occasion.
For something more affordable, look to Banana Republic. The premium-ish brand hasn’t done so well recently, with stores closing down, but, just like its more famous owner The Gap, it often offers quality a step above its direct competitors. Take Banana Republic’s dress shirts: the 98% cotton, 2% spandex fabric is specially engineered to resist wrinkles, staying crisp and pulled-together no matter how drawn-out the special occasion is. But the price for these clean-cut spread collar shirts, with double-button barrel cuffs and button vents, is around 30 bucks, meaning you can even run out and buy one if your luggage goes AWOL at the airport.
Nordstrom went from being a small Seattle shop 100 years ago to an emporium of some of the best brands in the business. The company also creates its own products, including a fine selection of affordable non-iron dress shirts coming in a range of different fits. Arguably the go-to from Nordstrom is the Traditional Fit Non-Iron Dress Shirt. This regular fit item is rare in the world of dress shirts because it is engineered with plenty of room in the shoulders, chest and waist. OK, so you lose a bit of that figure-hugging fit but if you find yourself wearing it for travelling too the extra comfort is priceless. The fabric is 100% Supima cotton and the price is less than 50 bucks.
Lands’ End non-iron dress shirts are a good value companion for chucking in the suitcase wherever the destination, and they’ll last for years too. Perhaps not the one for really upmarket occasions – the less than $40 dollar price should be a warning sign for that – but for durability wear-after-wear the US -grown Supima cotton Oxfords take some beating. They also don’t flap about on the sleeves – no eighties-era New Romantic look here – thanks to two pleats on the sleeve rather than three for less blousiness. Lands’ End says its fabric stays smooth for 30 washes without the touch of an iron.
However much Calvin Klein gets plastered all over shopping malls and in those cheap designer outlets, the American brand still gets the essentials right. The perfumes, the underwear, it all stays class-leading, and you can add to that the elegantly simple dress shirts on offer. An absolute must-have in the wardrobe is the herringbone non-iron dress shirt which, thanks to the cotton construction, works well in even hot climates, with moisture-wicking fabric that keeps you dry and comfortable. It also stays wrinkle-free, even right out of the dryer. The best bit is the price, with these shirts often retailing for less than $40, although expect a slimmer fit than some so go easy on the buffet.