Friday, June 3, 2011

The Great Shirt Hunt Continues (chapter 5)

Finding crisp cotton shirts in feminine colours that button all the way up and down!

RM Williams Stockyard
Australia's Bush Outfitter

I venture on an expedition to Farmlands (NZ) about once a year. Last time the result was a promotional featuring the Butterfly Shirt by*. This month I compared long sleeved shirt styles from RM Williams with what I'd seen in the RB Sellars catalogue (featured last week).

*Farmlands no longer stock OT womenswear. RD1 has a small selection.

I decided to purchase the RM Williams Ashville Shirt. It cost me NZ$80 when I could have had something similar from RB Sellars for nearly half the price, but I had three reasons for buying locally.

1) I prefer to try before I buy. I tried 3 sizes and checked for sleeve length (I have unusually long arms). I bought a size smaller than I normally would.
2) I wanted to be sure the colour worked for me.
3) I was able to compare a half-placket shirt (similar to the RB Sellars featured Workshirt) with the full-placket Ashville shirt and decided I preferred a full placket.

The Ashville looks similar to the Sandy Workshirt with identical collar and breast pocket shaping. The Ashville adds a little class with contrast collar and cuff lining in navy stripe, a button tab on the sleeve for rolling the sleeve up, and contrast-stitched buttonholes in navy. The Binalong Shirt is exactly the same styling as the Ashville and offers 3 colours of stripe or check minus the contrast features.

I didn't find the RM Williams webstore easy to navigate and I couldn't find an enlargement option (unless it was the camera in the bottom corner which did nothing when I clicked it). There's more detail in the catalogue, which you can download or view online (or if you've got a Farmlands (NZ) or RM Williams (Aus) store in your town, pop in and ask for a catalogue), but it's not set up like a ladies clothing store with garment description and close-up views.

Other shirt styles include the Broken Hill and plain Work Shirts (half placket), and the semi-fitted Willalooka and Bathurst shirts in check or plain with smaller chest pockets than the Ashville and Work Shirts. All but the plain (Brigalow) shirts have roll-up sleeve tabs. If sleeve tabs annoy you, unpick the stitching and remove the tab and button.

RM Williams shirts don't offer as many buttons on the placket as RB Sellars do, but for a small chested person like me that's not a problem. I like the double-buttoned cuffs, allowing for more wrist space if I've got layers underneath or want to push the sleeves up without undoing the cuffs.

You can order from the RM Williams website, or if you prefer to try before you buy, see the Store Finder for RM Williams womenswear stockists in Europe, the UK, South Africa, and the USA, as well as Australiasia.

In New Zealand, the most common RM Williams stockist is Farmlands in the North Island and CRT in the South Island. Some merino options are available at CRT online, but at the moment the online shirts are all menswear. You can view what's available in South Island CRT stores by asking for the Clobber Magazine at your local farm centre.

Are you wondering why I would pay NZ$80 for a shirt when I could get a button-up shirt from Ballentynes, Farmers, or the Warehouse for $40 to $60?

This shirt...
  • buttons from pelvis to collarbone;
  • is opaque and has breast patch pockets, meaning in the heat of summer I can go bra-less;
  • has long sleeves. Most fashion stores have stocked mainly 3/4 length or cap sleeves for several years now;
  • is designed for working comfort whilst retaining style. There's room to move but it fits me well without hugging my figure;
  • is quality cotton that shouldn't fade. (I'll let you know how that goes.) I've noticed that Ballentynes poly-cotton shirts fade very quickly;
  • will last a long time. It is very well made. No loose threads or buttons such as are often found on Asian-made garments;
  • I loooooooove the colour! No other store in this country has offered me this colour this century!
Next week, Outback Trading tops for women.

1 comment:

Narelle Worboys said...

I've just updated the where-to-shop details. RM Williams is more widely available than I realized. There are stockists in Europe, the UK, South Africa, and the USA, as well as Australiasia.

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