Dalvey shirts – a detailed review

This page describes Dalvey shirts and all the fits and sizes available. [Disclosure: Dalvey contacted me and sent me some shirts to try. They don’t have an affiliate program, so I don’t receive any commission if you buy a Dalvey shirt.]

Not what you’re looking for? Try the shirtdetective search engine to find a shirt that fits you.

Dalvey shirt sizing

I spoke with Dalvey’s Neil Grant about Dalvey’s history and the design and manufacturing of their shirts and the interview is at the bottom of the page.

Dalvey shirt collars

Dalvey shirts have a half-fused collars like Charles Tyrwhitt and Brooks Brothers. Dalvey’s view is that half-fused collars offer the best mix of flexibility and stiffness.

Dalvey shirts – fits available

There are two different Dalvey fits.

  • The Classic Fit shirts are Dalvey’s wider cut, with a more generous cut around the chest and waist.
  • The Slim Fit cut is Dalvey’s narrower cut. It is around 6 inches slimmer around the chest than the Classic Fit.

In the tables below all measurements are in inches.

Table 1- Dalvey shirt sizes – Classic Fit

Collar SizeSleeve Lengths AvailableChest Size - Garment MeasurementWaist Size - Garment Measurement

Table 2- Dalvey shirt sizes – Slim Fit

Collar SizeSleeve Lengths AvailableChest Size - Garment MeasurementWaist Size - Garment Measurement

Shirts that fit like Dalvey shirts?

If you are looking for alternative shirts that fit like the Dalvey shirts use the shirt search engine, select your collar and arm length and then find the shirts that have similar chest and waist sizes.

Interview with Neil Grant of Dalvey

I spoke with Neil Grant, a director at Dalvey  recently, about their shirts.  It provided an interesting insight into design and manufacturing in the shirt business and I’ve written it up below.

Shirtdetective [SD]: can you give me a short history of the company?

Neil Grant [NG]: Dalvey was originally a musical instrument manufactory, specialising in the crafting of Highland bagpipes.  We exported to many countries, including North America, the Middle East and Asia.  My father, the current MD of the company, was a competing piper himself.  It was the high-craft skills of musical instrument manufacture (a very precise art) that provided the basis for our initial move into high quality men’s accessories – the original product to take us in this direction was the iconic Dalvey Flask.  Today, our largest single market is Italy, where the Dalvey range is carried by around 300 (mostly independent) retailers.  Other significant markets are the US, Germany and Russia.

SD: And the shirt side of the business?

NG: We’ve worked on perfecting the apparel side of the business for several years, and that’s the area I’m primarily involved in.  Shirts are one of our most important areas in apparel: our objective has always been to develop shirts that are perfect for a proportion of the market, rather than mediocre for everyone.  Our shirts are too slim for some men, but we’re happy to focus on a group of customers who care about quality, and who want a block (or silhouette) that looks fantastic on them.

Our blocks were originally created by our in-house design team over several months.  We’re lucky to have loyal customers whose feedback we’re always keen to listen to; over time we’ve made a few minor tweaks to the blocks in light of this feedback.  For example, the aprons and tails of our Slim Fit shirts were originally slightly shorter: they’re still shorter than on our Classic Fit shirts, both to allow customers to wear them untucked and to prevent an unnecessary accumulation of material below the waistline.

SD: Where do you see yourself in the market?

NG: In terms of quality, we’re at the top of the market.  In terms of price, we’re competitive and offer very good value.  All of our shirts use exceptional, long staple Giza or Pima cotton fabrics.  In crafting our shirts we use a technique known as ‘single-needing stitching’: it’s quite rare these days, as it’s more time-consuming and requires more skill than the ‘chain stitching’ you see on most shirts, but we think it’s worth it, as it creates exceptionally neat seams that avoid that train-track appearance after washing.  We ensure perfect alignment of stripes and checks, and employ a unique combination of German interlinings in our half-fused collars and double-cuffs.

SD: Collar fusing, that’s a technical area I don’t know a lot about. Could you explain a bit more about that?

NG:  For me half-fusing creates the perfect result in a collar.  Unfused collars very quickly look untidy, as the fabric is not bound to the interlining, and the inevitable result is a kind of flaccid, scruffy-looking collar, with folds and ripples that are difficult to iron out.  Fully-fused collars should theoretically be much smarter, but since the fabric is bound to the interlining on both sides, there is no ‘give’, and hence the fabric often sheers away from the interlining during laundry.  We fuse the face of the collar, but not the underside, allowing for flexibility (and comfort) while retaining an exceptionally smart, consistent outer appearance.

SD: Many people are interested in where the shirts are made? Where are Dalvey shirts made?

NG:  We manufacture our shirts in Hong Kong and Portugal.  I’ve looked at UK manufacturers, but couldn’t find the quality we were looking for.  The UK has lost a lot of its manufacturing skill-base, particularly in this area.  That’s not to say there aren’t niche players who can do a good job, but their proposition is not relevant to the majority of the market.  I’ve spent a lot of time travelling the world in search of excellent shirt manufacturing partners.  You’d be surprised – you can come across European factories which are terrible, and Asian ones that look like something out of Star Wars.  And the converse, of course, is true: in the end it’s less about where they’re made than the skills that you develop with a manufacturing partner, and their attention to quality throughout every stage of the process.

SD: You have a classic and slim fit range, but you don’t offer non-iron shirts.  What’s the reason for that?

NG: To get a non-iron shirt you have to apply chemicals to the fabric, which can be damaging in the long-run, and can affect the ‘handle’ or feel of the shirt.  The ‘non-iron’ attribute wears out after a few washes, and we’ve always wanted to provide customers with high quality shirts that will last.  Also, even ‘non-iron’ shirts ought to be ironed – they just might take a bit less time to iron.  Our customers care about their appearance and their clothes, and assume that ironing is something that needs to be done to shirts.

SD: I noticed you have recently opened a shop in Manchester? Given your Scottish background, why not Edinburgh or Glasgow?

NG:  We looked across the whole of the UK when deciding where to launch our first store, and we found a fantastic site in Manchester: it has a wonderful return frontage, it’s an attractive building, and it’s well-positioned to be convenient for our key demographic of professional men.

SD: I would have thought that Edinburgh would have some good options?

NG:  Edinburgh is a beautiful city, and we’d love to open a store there at some point, but at the moment the city centre is very compromised by the tram works.  George Street is the only place that would work for us, and openings there are rare, largely because many international brands use it to site their Scottish flagships.  Glasgow is an incredible city for retailing in general, but to succeed on Buchanan Street you need to be much more mass market that we are, and every time we’ve looked at the Merchant City the footfall has just been too low.  Retail property is like residential property though – if you keep looking on a broad basis, sooner or later something that works for you is likely to turn up.

SD: Interesting, I hope you open in London soon.  Thanks for taking the time to talk to me.

NG:  It’s been a pleasure – thanks Steven, and keep up the good work on the site!