Many people in the clothing world are skeptical of so-called innovations in fabrics — myself included. The rise of athleisure and city-to-mountain apparel has created an influx of performance garments designed to bring the best qualities of activewear into a professional wardrobe. But much of the time, the products have been less than desirable. Shirts with stretch don’t age gracefully like a traditional oxford. Garments that tout moisture-wicking and waterproof technologies don’t seem to last more than a season before those properties wane. But there’s a new technology that may turn all those preconceptions around. It’s called 37.5 and it’s made to keep the humidity at your skin to a minimum, wicking moisture away from your body before it becomes liquid sweat. This has the ability to keep you both cool and dry at the same time. Sounds too good to be true? That’s what I thought, so I found the best example of the innovative material in a casual shirt offered by Mission Workshop and put it to the test.
The Good: Because this shirt doesn’t use a chemical finish, the performance features don’t wash out or break down (like is common with other performance-fabrics). The shirt is durable, machine washable and doesn’t feel overly tech-y. The best part about it is that it works, and keeps what would be uncomfortably sweaty commutes relatively dry.
Who They’re For: This shirt is ideal for the active working professional. Like to bike to work, but don’t like to pack a change of clothes? This shirt is for you. It’s also ideal for people who live in variable climates where weather can fluctuate from warm and sunny to cool and cloudy on the same day. Also, if you’re someone who’s prone to sweating, this shirt could be a welcome addition to your wardrobe.
Watch Out For: This shirt has a tailored silhouette, so refer to the size guide before buying. It also has a more substantial handfeel than traditional oxford shirts — this is to say, it’s unique and isn’t a direct swap for your favorite cotton button-down. The pocket design is also individual and takes a little getting used to for those who don traditional button-ups every day. The $175 price tag is definitely an investment, so make sure this shirt aligns with your lifestyle before picking one up.
Alternatives: There aren’t many other business-casual or casual button-up shirts that utilize 37.5 on the market yet. If you’re looking for a more professional option, Japanese brand Mr. Junko offers a dress shirt for around $40. If you’re looking for something decidedly more casual, Tommy Bahama offers a camp shirt for $135.
Review: This summer New York City was in fine form. Many stretches of incredibly humid days in the mid-90s made going out in Manhattan very unpleasant, to say the least. During the afternoon, buildings radiated heat and sidewalks exuded the unique damp funk of trash and urine. A multi-block walk to the subway station was cause enough to pack a change of clothes and a fresh stick of deodorant. Sound unpleasant? It was. But it was also the perfect opportunity to test the Hayes shirt from San Francisco-based Mission Workshop.
I was skeptical when first donning the slim-fit shirt because of its slightly heavier-than-normal weight. I’d been wearing breezy linen and hemp t-shirts all summer — this shirt was exactly what I’d been staying away from. The look, though, was work-appropriate and would also be fit for a night on the town (better, some would say, than a t-shirt). My normal subway line was delayed and I had to take an alternate line to work, complete with a longer-than-normal walk to the office. Walking through mid-morning Manhattan, I found myself oddly surprised. Though it was uncomfortably hot outside, I wasn’t sticking to my shirt. In fact, my torso was not beaded with sweat and I appeared office-ready without much to-do when I got into work. After a summer of sweating through shirts, this was quite the revelation. As the days passed, I experienced similar positive results on equally uncomfortable commutes.
Verdict: While many technical innovations in fabric can seem gimmicky or ineffective when added to an everyday wardrobe, 37.5 actually works without feeling overly tech-y. Mission Workshop was smart to incorporate this material into a versatile style that is work-appropriate and tailored. Though it doesn’t feel exactly like an oxford shirt, it offers far more tangible performance. It regulates your body temperature and keeps you dry whether you’re biking to work, walking through a sweltering city or stressing about a crucial meeting.
What Others Are Saying:
• “If you have the cash for a great shirt that will keep you cool in hot conditions then look no further than the Mission Workshop The Hayes Shirt. At $190 it may be your priciest shirt but it will probably be one of your most comfortable when the thermometer rises.” — Bennett Colvin, Active Gear Review
• “I definitely am a believer in 37.5. Manage your expectation: it’s not going to prevent you from sweating, but it’s definitely going to prevent a lot of that perspiration from turning into liquid sweat.” — Mission Workshop Reviews, YouTube
• “I love Oxford chambray button ups, and I’ve been searching for years (even before I came to MW) for a fabric that has that ‘textured-yet-refined’ oxford look but that also peforms well enough to carry the MW label. 37.5 was the key component that we were able to use to finally make it happen.” — Jeff Roberts, Reddit
Fabric: 60 percent cotton / 40 percent 37.5 Polyester
Care: Machine washable
Pockets: Side-entry chest pocket, pen pocket
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