Mercer & Sons

Lovers of classic style are a particular folk.

The very nature of classic clothing suggests that some things should be immune to the vicissitudes of fashion. So those of us who venerate the classics don’t undertake change lightly; we lean hard on tradition.

Consider the button down collar shirt.

Finding a shirt with just the perfect roll–the ideal compromise between collar length and button position–is a challenging proposition.  Many bemoan the existing Brooks Brothers shirts; according to popular lore, the company tampered with perfection, and the modern version is a walking shadow of what it once was.

Nearly 35 years ago, David Mercer was among those who were aghast at changes in the iconic polo shirt (the button down shirt in Brooks Brothers’ nomenclature), particularly to the collar. But he turned his lamentation into action.

So, in 1982, Mercer & Sons began, resolving to produce a shirt with all the classic details: an unlined 3 and 7/16″ collar, offset cuffs, a six button placket. It offers shirts in all the classic fabrics, including oxford cloth.

Mercer’s customer service is legendary, and my experience is illustrative.

Yea though I count myself among the lovers of traditional modes of dress, I favor a slightly trimmer shirt. But everything I saw online suggested that Mercer shirts were voluminous about the torso, so much so that they’d be comically large on me. The measurements provided by the company reinforced that.

So I contacted David Mercer, and he offered a simple, but elegant solution. He would make a shirt for me with a 16″ collar and a 33″ sleeve, but with a body that normally accompanies a 14.5″ collar, which, based upon the measurements he provided, would produce a shirt only marginally wider than my custom shirts from Hamilton.

I ordered a shirt in a blue oxford cloth university (candy) stripe with a button down collar. About six weeks later, the shirt was on my doorstep.

The results?

Generally, quite solid. The collar is everything I hoped it would be, with a roll that is nothing less than sublime. I do wish the shirt had gauntlet buttons, and the buttonholes are a little ragged. But otherwise the construction appears first rate.

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As for sizing, the shirt is only slightly larger than my custom Hamiltons, and the shoulders are almost perfect, with the sleeve seam hitting at just the right point. I can easily see adding a few more of these to my shirt rotation, particularly because Hamilton is a little thin in the oxford cloth department.

While Mercer has moved several times since its inception (they currently reside in Bozeman, Mont.), its commitment to American manufacturing has never wavered.

10 thoughts on “Mercer & Sons”

  1. I’ve yet to try Mercer, but I am a rather big fan of Michael Spencer, who has a much easier ordering process. Their shirts are excellent and american made, but I don’t know how they compare to Mercer. The collars on Mercers seem most excellent.

    1. I hadn’t heard of Michael Spencer, and I appreciate you bringing them to my attention; I’ll have to check them out. I wouldn’t characterize the Mercer order process as particularly difficult though. David Mercer was a genuine pleasure to work with.

      1. My apologies, I should have been clearer so I would not sound disparaging. I meant to say that Spencer has a nice ecomm website that makes ordering simpler, for me at least.

        1. No apologies necessary. Admittedly, Mercer’s website is not on the cutting edge of e-commerce. I can easily see how a more modern website would streamline the ordering process.

  2. For a nominal price David will add gauntlet buttons, local loop, rear color button, seven button front … you name it. I’m a OCBD OCD. Tried them all; to the extramarital of having one shipped from Japan. My research is complete: call Bozeman.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Bruce. That’s a point well taken. Mercer allows an almost infinite range of customization options for its OCBDs.

    1. I’m not altogether sure, although I think there’s something a bit charming and idiosyncratic about the idea of a “local loop.” 😉

  3. Thanks for your review.
    I am interested in your sizing of the Mercer&Sons shirt. Could you tell me your chest and waist body dimensions? Thanks a lot!

    1. Max, thanks for your comment. I have a 41.5″ chest and a 36.25″ waist. The shirt is 46″ across the chest and 42″ across the waist. All in all, a tad baggier than I normally prefer, but certainly acceptable. In fact, I’m already thinking about another shirt from Mercer.

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