Daniel Craig re-introduced the world to tab collar dress shirts in Skyfall, and it looks like they’re back in No Time To Die. But finding tab collar dress shirts is a bit of a struggle because most brands don’t make them—you have to do a fair bit of sleuthing to find good options (or check out my article, “Tab Collar Dress Shirts”).
That’s one of the reasons Paul Fredrick is so appealing. Whereas most brands don’t even carry tab collar dress shirts, they offer 10 different styles with two or three color options on most of them, and the choice between one-button or French cuffs. That’s a great selection to choose from if you want to build a wardrobe of tab collar dress shirts. But are they a good option?
I received Paul Fredrick’s Slim Fit Pure Cotton Pinpoint Solid Color Snap Tab Collar Dress Shirt for Christmas last year, so I’m going to focus my review specifically on that product.
This Paul Fredrick shirt is constructed from 100% 2-ply pinpoint Oxford cotton available in blue or white. It features one-button rounded cuffs, a snap tab collar, a split yoke, and a single rounded breast pocket. The shirt also comes with removable collar stays.
The shirt design has a classical sensibility to it—it immediately gives you the impression that Paul Fredrick has been making dress shirts for much longer than 30 years because it feels very old fashioned. That’s not a bad thing. In a lot of ways, it feels like the only “modern” feature of the design is the slim fit.
That said, there are three design features that I feel detract from the shirt’s otherwise high quality: the tab, the pocket, and the collar.
This is a personal thing, but I think a snap tab seems cheap and lazy, and somehow childish. I can’t help but think of snaps as meant for children (just think of the last time your trousers had snaps instead of buttons). Of course there are exceptions to this—snaps are great for certain kinds of outerwear—but they feel out of place on a dress shirt. A button tab would be much more elegant.
Again, this is my personal preference—I really don’t like chest pockets on dress shirts. They’re unnecessary when you’re wearing a suit because you could put anything you might put in a chest pocket in your jacket pocket. Also, I think it looks awkward when you see the outline of a pocket poking out from behind a suit jacket. I prefer my dress shirts without chest pockets.
This is my biggest complaint with this shirt—the collar is too stiff. When you fasten the tab, the collar is too stiff to follow the natural curve of your neck, so it creates a gap between your neck and the front of the collar. It makes an accurately sized collar look like it’s too big, which is very frustrating. I’ve been tempted to order another shirt with a half-inch smaller collar to see if that makes a difference, but I also don’t want to spend the money to wind up with two shirts I can’t wear.
Like I said before, the fabric is 100% 2-ply pinpoint Oxford cotton, which you can feel because the shirt has a bit of weight to it. I have the blue shirt and what you can’t tell from the product photo is that it looks different depending on how the light catches it. It looks like it perhaps wasn’t dyed evenly because sometimes the blue looks vibrant and others it looks a little faded out like a worn chambray. It’s not a dealbreaker by any stretch, just something I wasn’t expecting.
One word of caution I have for you if you buy this shirt, DO NOT dry it in a dryer. The shirt doesn’t actually have a tag with care instructions (which seems like a significant oversight), but it’s 100% cotton so it will shrink even if you dry it on your dryer’s “delicate” or “low heat” settings. Better to air dry it and iron it afterwards to avoid any issues.
I think the fit of this shirt is OK—it’s not the most fitted slim fit I’ve worn but it works. The shirt could be a bit more tapered through the waist to eliminate excess fabric, but I’m generally more forgiving of fit on dress shirts because I wear them tucked in with a suit jacket, so the jacket can hide any excess shirt fabric.
The Bottom Line
I really like the variety of tab collar shirt options Paul Fredrick offers—it surpasses anything off-the-rack you’ll find from another retailer. However, I just can’t get around the collar. If it were just a little softer, it would curve around your neck instead of jutting out and creating a gap when you fasten the tab. It’s a shame because I could overlook all my minor issues with the shirt if the collar was better. As it is, it’s just not worth the money. If you’re looking for tab collar dress shirts, I recommend going with another option.