The Life Span of the Man’s Dress Shirt

I read once (where, however, I cannot remember), that it is best to think of dress shirts as essentially disposable. For when a collar or cuff frays beyond the point where the shirt is reasonably wearable, when sweat stains elude even the most crafty of cleaners, too much emotional attachment to a shirt can tax the soul.

Of all the items in a man’s dress wardrobe (with the exception of footwear), the shirt takes the most abuse. It sits closest to the skin, so it’s subject to sweat and oil from the skin. It’s a de facto bib, catching splatters from all manner of meals.

According to the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute, the average life expectancy for a man’s dress shirt is somewhere between 35 and 50 washes. However, I expect my shirts to last at least twice as long. That’s largely because I wash all my shirts at home (avoiding the abuse common at commercial laundries), hanging them all to dry.

Consider this Hamilton dress shirt. It’s from my original order with Hamilton (completed more than 7 1/2 years ago). It’s nearing 100 wearings, a figure that owes as much to Hamilton’s craftsmanship as it does my washing habits. And it’s still going strong, with no end in sight for its wearability.


Seven-and-a-half years later, and still going strong

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