We work with a lot of brands here at Heddels, but no other brand gives you the fully bespoke offering that SOSO does. That’s why when we connected with SOSO, I had to try out the tailor-made process for myself, because, if I’m honest, it just seemed too good to be true.
I’ve pieced together a fairly solid wardrobe through years of being passionate about well-made, heritage-adjacent clothing, but there is always room for improvement. Ideally, I’d like to reach a point of sartorial nirvana, where I have a solid core of pieces that I wear into the ground year after year and there aren’t any drifters. I’m there with most pieces to a degree, like jackets, caps, sweats, pants, etc, but somewhere I’ve always struggled is shirting.
Finding perfect shirts and overshirts has always eluded me. Sleeves too long, sleeves too slim, a good fit in the chest ruined by tight shoulders, and of course, problems with the length. Shirts (especially work shirts) are often available in great fabrics, but they’re made to be tucked in, leading to super lengths that don’t suit my style. As you can tell, I’ve struggled to find that perfect, reliable overshirt that I can rely on forevermore. I figured going on my own tailor-made journey could possibly change that.
So, here’s my experience going tailor-made with SOSO, in this instance making what I hope will be my perfect overshirt.
Concept – The WorkStern
I’ve always loved Western Shirts, but for some reason, I’ve never felt completely comfortable in them. This article isn’t about my personal image issues, though, it’s about a custom-made overshirt, so, just know I love Western Shirts but don’t wear them. What I do feel good in, though, is relaxed-fit work shirts. I have a couple of vintage 90s work shirts from brands like Levi’s and Wrangler — which aren’t made from the nicest fabric — but they fit amazingly, so I figured that the silhouette of these pieces would be a great place to start.
So, I got to thinking, what If I took iconic features from a western shirt and spliced them with a custom relaxed fit and the simplicity of a classic work shirt? A WorkStern! I’m not going to take credit for this name, our very own Daniel Rockburn applied this moniker to a hickory-stripe Western Shirt by Warehouse, but I figured I could sure as hell flesh out the idea myself.
Measuring Up My Reference Piece
This is the aforementioned Wrangler work shirt, a pick-up from a vintage shop that has become a fairly regular piece in my rotation. Whilst the indigo tone isn’t perfect by a long shot, the roping on the button placket and seams make it look really nice, and the not-too-dark, not-too-bright color tends to drop well with everything. But the main thing I like about this piece is the fit — hence why I used this as the blueprint for my tailor-made SOSO project.
The above images are the standard measures – pit to pit and back length. You can see the silhouette of this shirt is very boxy and almost square. The below grid includes some of the measures that are also crucial to the relaxed fit of this shirt. The armhole and shorter arm length create a wide, shorter-fitting sleeve that sits at the wrist rather than stacking up. The hem width of the shirt is about 1″ slimmer than the chest (pit-to-pit), leading to a subtle taper that offsets the super boxy fit. I also measured the shoulder width as part of standard measuring procedure.
Design: Choosing Silhouette, Fabric, and Details at SOSO
Once I had my measurements and silhouette in mind, I went ahead and started formulating my creation. Now, this part really was exciting for me. SOSO lets you go down to a pretty granular level with your design, with detail parameters like thread color, snap/button material, pocket placement(s), collar style, cuff type, and Selvedge ID placements if you are building from a selvedge fabric.
Considering I wanted to create a blend of an overshirt, a work shirt, and a Western shirt, I was pleased to see all of the archetypal western shirt details on offer — like curved pointed yokes, snaps, and pocket types — in addition to all of the other shirting parameters. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t spend a couple of hours deliberating on which details to include and which to omit, but as you’ll see below, it was worth it (in my opinion).
Using the measurements from my vintage Wrangler shirt, I applied these to my custom-made overshirt using the tools on the page, adding a percentage to each measurement for the advised shrinkage of my chosen fabric. There is a cost to edit each measurement, but if you’re someone who struggles with something like sleeve length or shoulder width, I’m sure $10 won’t be a deal breaker. I was really happy to see the option to alter the ‘arm hole’ measurement, too, as this allows you to control the overall silhouette of the arm. I copied the armhole measure from the Wrangler shirt and trusted that SOSO would produce a sleeve with the right amount of taper toward the cuff.
The above image is the summary I was shown once I had finalized what to go for. All I had to do was wait and see if this would all work out.
The Result – The WorkStern
Well, as you can tell from my smile, it’s safe to say I’m pretty happy with my WorkStern. I went for the following details:
17.3 oz. vintage slub off-white selvedge denim
Choosing the fabric from SOSO’s roster of top-quality stuff was one of the toughest parts of this process. They had sashiko, a host of indigo selvedge denim, and other twills, but I went for this hefty, slubby selvedge denim for my WorkStern project. Sadly no longer available at SOSO, it’s a beautiful fabric and it’s surprisingly supple and comfortable considering it’s over 15 oz. per square yard and has just been washed. One concern I had was that the fabric would be too heavy for the snaps, but it works just fine. It’s the perfect weight for a heavyweight overshirt and will certainly get a lot of mileage in fall/winter.
Western details – pearlescent snaps throughout and a single Western-style yoke on the back
I wanted to infuse a work shirt with enough Western shirt detailing without going full Western, and these details pay homage to Western shirts while staying low-key. Snaps were non-negotiable, I had to have them. They’re one of my favorite details of Western shirts and I concluded that the white pearlescent snap closures would look handsome against the off-white slubby denim.
After some pondering, I realized that it’s the front yokes on Western shirts that don’t I don’t think suit my build. Maybe it’s the way they frame my fairly broad shoulders — I don’t know. Anyway, the great thing about this process was I could simply not include them.
Work Shirt Style Dual Flap Chest Pockets
Not much to say here other than I am a dual chest pocket guy, Western shirts typically have dual chest pockets, and thanks to SOSO, the choice was all mine.
Copper Stitching Thread
After omitting some of the more ornate details from iconic Western shirts, I felt I had to bring a bit of pizzazz to this otherwise understated piece, so I went for copper stitching thread which stands out in stark contrast against the off-white denim and emphasizes the details of the shirt.
Single Button Cuffs
Western Shirts (Yeah, there’s a theme here) typically have double or triple-button cuffs, but I went for classic work shirt styling with a slim, single-button cuff which looks great with the singular pearl snap.
I had to flaunt the selvedge somewhere visible, and this felt like the most appropriate place.
Boxy, 90s-Inspired Fit Through Custom Measurements
Honestly, this is the highlight of this whole process. There are a ton of brands out there offering crazy fabrics, but knowing that you are pretty much in full control of the measures across your garment is just a great feeling and SOSO smashed it with this piece.
SOSO said that the 17.3 oz. off white selvedge denim would experience 2-3% shrinkage with washing, so I simply added 3% onto my custom measurements and washed the garment on a fairly hot cycle when it arrived. I’ll admit I was worried when the shirt arrived as it was a bit roomy, but the fabric shrunk as advised and my WorkStern fits like a glove post-wash.
Regrets and Feedback
Overall, I’m stoked with my WorkStern. The details may not be for everyone, but it’s a winning formula for me, and that’s what tailor-made is all about. I may even revisit this silhouette in a lighter fabric next spring.
In terms of regrets and slight niggles, there aren’t too many. I would have liked to have the option of adding chain stitch finishing to certain areas of the shirt that are more visible. The hem is overlocked, which doesn’t look bad, but a clean chain stitch finish might have made it look even better. And on a more personal note, I feel I could have gone a bit crazier. However, I’m at a point in my life where I need no-nonsense, hardwearing garb that I can throw on without thinking too much, and an 0ff-white overshirt in a robust and unique fabric with some details chosen by me fits the bill completely.
If you want to consider your own tailor-made shirt, jacket, or raw denim jeans, head over to SOSO.
Whilst SOSO is an affiliate of ours, this is not a sponsored post and I received no discounts on this piece.