Bryan Davis got a traffic ticket – and a fast track to a great-fitting shirt.
When a Bangkok police officer pulled him over for speeding a few years ago, the style-conscious Davis noticed the cop’s button-front shirt fit especially well – close to the body without gapping between the buttons.
Davis paid the ticket – but then paid a visit to the Royal Thai Police tailor, where he discovered the secret to the shirt’s great fit: The buttons on the front were just for show – a hidden zipper was doing the real work.
“When I looked in the mirror and saw how tight it was and I didn’t look like I was busting out of it, that’s when I learned the zipper solved (the) problem,” he said.
Many men, including the athletic Davis, struggle to find an off-the-rack shirt that both looks and feels good. Traditional men’s shirts that fit properly in the shoulders are boxy in the body and hang loose around the waist, because they’re designed to “fit” as many people as possible. And when a shirt fits close to the body, it’s too snug in the shoulders, and produces an unattractive opening between buttons – aka the “pec-gap,” that makes it appear too tight. The problem is particular acute for people with truly athletic builds.
Back in New York City, Davis partnered with CEGO custom shirtmaker and tailor to the stars Carl Goldberg to create the “Zip Fit Shirt,” applying old school zipper technology for a new fashion look and fit.
“When you put the shirt on an athletic guy it looks like it’s tailor-made for him,” said Davis.
Davis is just the latest ragman in search of a perfect male shirt, a quest that began in the late 1800s, when the sewing machine gave shape to the modern dress shirt. Shirts were worn for days in a row; detachable collars were exchanged once they became soiled. The attached collar became popular in the 1920s, and has since gone through many iterations. About 25 years ago fitted shirts hit the market, and nowadays, every brand – from low-end Gap to expensive Gucci – makes its own.
Davis’ Teddy Stratford line is just one of many brands rethinking – and resizing – traditional men’s shirts. Hugh Crye, for example, has done away with the old way of measuring shirts, opting for three height variants and four body types – skinny, slim, athletic and broad – in an effort to find the perfect combination for each man.
The effort is worth it, Davis says: “When you wear something you feel good in, it completely changes your outlook on life and what’s possible. If you don’t feel like you look good, you don’t feel confident.”
It’s not for everybody – or every body. One of our editors, Gersh Kuntzman is forever complaining that off-the-rack shirts in his size are too tight in some places and too big in others. But the Zip Fit Shirt didn’t work for him (see video above) because of some fleshy baggage he carries in his midsection.
“People will say, ‘Wow, you look great in this shirt.’ And I say to myself, ‘I feel like s–t in this shirt.’ I feel like a sardine in a can that’s in a crowded subway car.”
But the Zip Fit did work for Daily News videographer George Goss, whose slender frame looked more sturdy and masculine. “It feels awesome,” Goss said.
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