Mail-order shirt tales

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The Independent Online
THE MEN'S range in new mail-order catalogues always includes a casual, 100 per cent cotton, machine-washable shirt; but you can't tell how good they are. We decided to find out by ordering a shirt from Racing Green and three other leading companies:

Racing Green: Twill Traveller, two box- pleat pockets, 12 colours, pounds 32. To order catalogue, phone 0345 331177.

Land's End: Denim, button-down collar, one pocket, six colours (one stripe), pounds 30. Phone 0800 220 106.

Hawkshead: Two breast (and one pen) pockets, six colours, pounds 14.99. Phone 05394 34000.

Boden: Twill shirt with one pocket, three colours, pounds 38. Phone 081-964 2662.

Our testers made these observations:

Practicalities: All the shirts washed and ironed well, but the Land's End seemed to have shrunk very slightly, and the Boden to have faded a little.

Style and fit: All did well, especially the Racing Green and Land's End. However, the Hawkshead bore a washing-instructions label 'made out of scratchy, synthetic material, irritatingly just on the belt line', and had some flaws in the stitching. The Boden was 'a bit short, and the collar was big and flappy'.

Fabric quality: Particularly good with the Land's End. For an autumn shirt, the Racing Green fabric was a little thin. Colour matches with the catalogues were very good, except for the Hawkshead , which was 'quite different from the catalogue, and much nicer'.

Other comments: The Racing Green was regarded as a very well-made shirt (with 'near- perfect stitching') but expensive. The Land's End was 'a bit M & S, but good value. I don't buy mail-order clothes, and I was surprised at its quality and cut'. The wearer of the Hawkshead was very pleased, and said it was'brilliant for the price'. And the Boden was 'good, but too expensive'.

(Photograph omitted)

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