Having already established myself as a fat work shirt wearer with a morbid fear of being mistaken for a member of a demonised ironic sub culture, it should come as no surprise that my favoured casual shirt should be made from my favourite fabric and styled to accommodate a person of more “heroic” stature. The denim work shirt is one item of clothing that in my younger days I could never have envisaged myself having love for, it was once solely the domain of the stone washed lotharios who frequented seedy bars and even seedier night clubs, sporting pencil thin moustache’s and synthetic leather loafers which we lovingly mocked as being “brothel creepers”. No more though, in recent times the humble denim work shirt has lost its fashion focus and returned to its work wear roots where it belongs, it is plain, simple, practical and despite what the cool kids might popularise it goes very nicely with your favourite jeans. Plus, everyone knows that only a real bad ass wears double denim with confidence, it’s a middle finger to the world of sports wear and hoodies with big logos.
For my denim work shirt of choice I return to Iron Heart and their IHSH-75. Again, this was a purchase that I had did a great deal of research into before taking the plunge, I had seen efforts from various young and start up American companies which peaked my interest whilst a quick scout through Rakuten had revealed that more Japanese brands than I would have thought have also had a go at interpreting this classic piece of Americana but it was Iron Heart I went back to with good reason. The Iron Heart shirt is made from 12oz denim, this would be heavy enough for a jacket in most high street stores but for Iron Heart this is firmly shirt territory (their “light” denim jackets weigh in at 17oz). The extra bulk that using 12oz denim gives the shirt means that it keeps its shape extremely well through both wear and wash and also that it evolves really nicely and even gently, starting at the traditional stress points of collar, cuffs and pockets the evolution spreads like a quiet revolution becoming hints of electric blue in the creases of the arm, and those formed on the lap. Within relatively few wears you feel the shirt become yours and form a second skin becoming a chrysalis like security.
For such a simple shirt it also has some really nice details, again where subtlety is the watchword of the day. The constructional stitching is done with a muted brown poly cotton thread rather than the more regular gold thread with the result being that the aesthetic focus remains squarely on the denim and not drawn away to accents, it also removes the “framing” effect which gold thread can give and is something I have always found a little off putting, in this denim shirt it really is all about the denim. The buttons are also a really nice feature being both metal and cats eye style they somehow manage to be both contempory but simultaneously evoke a feeling of heritage wear, plus they just look really cool.
Much is made of the quality and longevity of Iron Heart garments, and much of their reputation is based around being tough and durable. I can only echo that this is certainly the case so far as the IHSH-75 goes, the only way I can emote it is by saying that it gives you confidence that it’s going to be around for a while, the denim is thick and tough but also soft and welcoming, every seam is stitched tight and every button is held fast. This shirt makes the list because I wanted a denim work shirt as my choice of casual shirt, and this one (in my opinion) is the best one available anywhere.