Now Available: Our Pullover Work Shirt

CCC workers in the 1930s with some nice pullover shirts. Killer trunk scaling calipers, too.

Editor’s note: Today we are launching our pullover work shirt, which is in the warehouse and ready for shipment. Because of massive delays in the country’s delivery systems, we cannot guarantee delivery before Christmas. You can read all the details about the shirt’s construction on the page in our store. It is, of course cut and stitched here in Cincinnati from high-quality materials. Below, you can read our clothing designer’s account of how he developed the shirt.

— Christopher Schwarz

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When Chris and I talked about designing a work shirt, we knew we’d want to make a pullover style. That’s been a good choice for hundreds of years. No placket or buttons to interfere with planing, shaving or hewing at belly level. Simple in cut and detail, not festooned with living history museum ruffles. Sleeves that can be easily rolled up. Unstructured and comfortable, but presentable, too.

Havasupai man with a pitch-lined water basket and a very nice shirt, c. 1900

I found a rich mid-weight indigo cotton from Japan, and the team at Cincinnati’s own Sew Valley cut and sewed a batch of shirts. It took a lot of development. Like wood’s worst warping happening between felling the tree and drying the lumber to a reasonable moisture content, fabric’s big shrink happens at the first wash after weaving. During the first wash of this fabric shrank it by 3″. That was startling. So we calculated that big shrink into the pattern, sewed up some very odd-looking shirts, then laundered them all down to normalcy before sending them to the warehouse. The shirt you receive won’t shrink hardly at all, especially if you follow the instructions (wash cold, hang dry).

Another CCC group, from Maine in 1938. Nice shirts, fellas.

This is a real indigo – not a vegetable dye, but chemically identical. It will rub off if you grind your shirt on a white couch. In everyday life, it shouldn’t be noticeable, but do know that the dye can transfer. It’ll fade like that old pair of blue jeans – slowly and handsomely.

Look at that nice square bottom placket. This is what I based our placket on.

The cut was intended to have enough room for easy work while not feeling like a balloon or a costume. It’s long enough to tuck in, but not dress-like. The sleeves stay rolled up pretty well thanks to a shorter cuff placket than is typical on a dress shirt. The collar is unstructured. It’s as simple and steady as a shirt can be.

We’re not taking much of a margin on these. They’re made of good fabric, by a factory that pays its workers a living wage, and that ain’t cheap. But we think it’s the way to go.

— Tom Bonamici


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