Editor's Letter | March/April 2012

Mary Hilliard

All I had really wanted was the perfect white shirt. To be honest, I live in a smallish two-bedroom apartment and share a closet with my wife, Jennifer. Most of that closet is taken up by—gasp! Is this a sign of modern times, or what?—my own clothes. Yes, I admit it: I love clothes more than she does, and if you compare inventory, I have the numbers to prove it. That said, what I don’t ever get right, have enough of or am entirely satisfied with is THE PERFECT WHITE SHIRT. “That’s because you let them make it, instead of making your own perfect white shirt,” says Michael Reslan, whose men’s-only atelier at 689 Fifth Avenue Departures reported on when it opened in 2010. The Lebanese-born ex–Brioni exec remains my point man whenever I face a sartorial conundrum. And now Reslan has the perfect formula for what he believes is the perfect white shirt. Really, I ask? “Really,” he says. “Because I listened to what my customers wanted and what they needed.”

Don’t get me wrong: I love the bold, brightly patterned shirts our style editor Tasha Green selected for this month’s “CLASH COURSE” portfolio, but I’m fascinated by the perfect white shirt. “Of course you are,” says Reslan, “because it’s difficult to ever get right.” What’s important is that a shirt looks good, feels good and has longevity. “When you buy a great suit,” he says, “it wears for a long time—if you take care of it. A shirt, on the other hand, must be able to withstand the butchery of most dry cleaners.” It must also have “a Viagra-strength collar, one that stands up and looks powerful and important.” Reslan, whose white shirts are made-to-measure but also available off-the-rack, uses the best sea island and Egyptian Super 170 or Super 200 cottons. “There are even higher grades,” he says, “but I like the fact that when these particular ones touch your body, it feels like heaven.” He also makes sure to use good, strong mother-of-pearl buttons that don’t break after a dozen visits to the cleaner. “Face it, when a button or two cracks and falls off and you’re in Dublin on business,” says Reslan, “what hotel cleaner is going to run around town looking for matching buttons?” And a few final pointers: A shirt shouldn’t be symmetrical but, rather, longer in the back, shorter in the front and, to keep the shirt from riding up when you move your arms, the armhole should be relatively small and high. Reslan, after all, has, for more than 25 years, fit everyone from Eric Clapton to American presidents. In fact, he introduced George W. Bush to Zimmerli of Switzerland. “They make the world’s best undergarments,” says Reslan. “When the president asked me why his shirts always felt bunched up when he wore them, I suggested a Zimmerli T-shirt, which clings to the body, but in the most comfortable, elegant way imaginable, especially underneath a white shirt.”

Whoever said dressing “white” right was, necessarily, a snap? Welcome to International Style.

Read the rest of this article

Having problems downloading the file? Download Adobe Acrobat Reader